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5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday

A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, August 3, 2022.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Stock futures fall

Stocks appeared in for a rough Wednesday morning a day after the Dow and the S&P 500 finished higher. All three major indexes were in the red before the bell. The Dow is on a five-day winning streak, while the S&P is looking for its fifth straight week of gains. Investors on Wednesday are digesting earnings from Target and Lowe’s a day after Walmart and Home Depot posted their results. They are also looking forward to the Federal Reserve releasing minutes from its previous meeting, as the central bank considers its next steps to fight inflation.

2. Inventory reduction squeezes Target profit

Source: Getty Images

Shares of Target closed more than 4% higher Tuesday after big-box rival Walmart posted better-than-expected results and stuck by its forecast for the latter half of the year. On Wednesday, though, Target reported earnings that came in well below Wall Street’s expectations, even as revenue was in line with projections. Executives said they would rather take a big short-term hit to the company’s bottom line than stretch the pain over time as it looks to unload piles of unwanted merchandise ahead of the holiday season. Target did stick with its full-year forecast, however, and said it’s in a better position to rebound.

3. Walmart CEO: Everyone’s penny-pinching

Speaking of Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and grocer is also contending with excess inventory in some categories, but it is benefiting from grocery sales and an influx of new customers. With inflation at 40-year highs, more families with incomes of $100,000 or higher are shopping at the discounter, the company said. “People are really price-focused now, regardless of income level,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC’s Courtney Reagan on Tuesday. “And the longer this lasts, the more that’s going to be the case.”

4. Mortgage demand falls

Rates are down from their highs, price growth has slowed and sales are cooling, but that doesn’t mean people are jumping back into the housing market. The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday that demand for mortgages last week hit the lowest level since 2000. Fewer people are refinancing their mortgages, too, as rates are nearly double where they were early this year. The report Wednesday comes on the heels of new surveys showing that more people are backing out of deals to buy homes.

5. New Amazon union effort

Amazon workers at the LDJ5 Amazon warehouse rally in support of the union on April 24, 2022 in Staten Island, New York. The union vote at LDJ5 was defeated on May 2, 2022.
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Labor organizers at an Amazon warehouse near Albany, New York, filed a petition to form a union. The workers are looking to be represented by the grassroots Amazon Labor Union, which previously unionized an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island. The e-commerce giant, which relies on workers in its network of massive warehouses to distribute products to customers quickly, is fighting union efforts at various facilities, including in Alabama and Kentucky.

— CNBC’s Tanaya Macheel, Melissa Repko, Diana Olick and Annie Palmer contributed to this report.

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