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Pre-Market: Toyota Recalls 6 Million Vehicles, Fed Minutes On Tap


Alcoa unofficially began earnings season on a good note.

US stock markets were set to open slightly higher this morning after Alcoa (NYSE:AA) unofficially kicked off earnings season on a positive note and investors await the release of minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

Before the opening bell, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up by 0.14% at 16,202. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) declined by 0.12% to 1,845.70. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.16% to 3,534.25.

Alcoa, the Pittsburgh-based aluminum giant, delivered earnings that surpassed analysts' estimates after the bell yesterday, sending shares up 3.1% in after-hours trading. In the first quarter, the company generated $0.09 in profit per share adjusted for one-time items, down $0.02 from the same period a year earlier. Analysts had expected it to post earnings of $0.05 per share. Revenue for the quarter fell to $5.45 billion from $5.83 billion.

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE:TM) fell 1.27% today after the world's biggest automaker announced that it will recall over 6 million vehicles due to potentially hazardous manufacturing glitches. The proactive, sweeping move by Toyota reflects US regulators' scrutiny. General Motors (NYSE:GM) is currently under investigation for withholding information that may have caused 12 deaths over a 10-year period. Just last month, Toyota paid the US government $1.2 billion for failing to disclose a glitch that caused unintended acceleration in some 2005-2010 models.

Senator Rob Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, called for an overhaul of the corporate tax code yesterday in response to a report by Audit Analytics that estimates that US firms held more than $2.1 trillion in profits overseas to avoid taxation. As the law stands, companies are not taxed on overseas profits until that money is brought into the United States. The firm says that Russell 1000 (INDEXRUSSELL:RUI) listed companies increased their use of this legal practice by 93% between 2008 and 2013. General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) held the most abroad, keeping $110 billion overseas. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) came in second with $76.4 billion kept out of the US, according to the report.

Today, LaQuinta Holdings (NYSE:LQ) will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The hotel chain is valued at $2.1 billion at the IPO price.

In economic news, the Fed will release its latest meeting notes at 2 p.m. Most economists don't expect any bombshell statements in the March minutes, as the central bank is adamantly against a rate hike in the near future. Fed members Charles Evans and Daniel Tarullo will deliver speeches in the afternoon that might further hint at the Fed's plans.

Wholesale trade numbers are also due for release at 10:00 a.m. The consensus estimate for February inventories is for 0.6% growth.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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