5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday

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Here’s the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Stocks set to pause after record session

Stocks looked to take a breather on Wednesday following a banner day on Wall Street. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down just 32 points, or 0.1%. S&P 500 futures hovered along the flatline and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.3%. On Tuesday, the Dow soar passed 30,000 for the first time, and the S&P 500 notched a record closing high. The small-caps Russell 2000 also jumped to a record in the previous session. Trading volumes are expected to be lower than normal on Wednesday a day ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which could lead to some volatile moves.

2. Fed minutes, jobless claims ahead

US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, DC, December 19, 2018.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Wall Street braced for the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting earlier this month as traders look for clues on what the central bank has planned for its bond-buying program. Speculation among market participants had been building about the Fed tweaking the duration of the bonds it is buying. However, the central bank is still expected to maintain the total Treasury purchases at $800 billion per month. The minutes are scheduled for release at 2pm ET. Investors also looked ahead to the release of the latest weekly jobless claims data. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect the number of initial claims to fall to 733,000 from 742,000.

3. Mortgage refinances and home purchases jump amid record-low rates

Prospective buyers visit an open house for sale in Alexandria, Virginia.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Mortgage refinancing applications jumped 5% for the week, reaching their highest pace since last April, as homeowners take advantage of record-low interest rates. Applications to buy a home also rose 4% for the week, and were up 19% from the year-earlier period. “Amidst strong competition for a limited supply of homes for sale, as well as rapidly increasing home prices, purchase applications increased for both conventional and government borrowers,” said Joel Kan, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s vice president of industry and economic forecasting.

4. GE warns of more job cuts

Larry Culp, CEO, General Electric

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

General Electric warned its aviation business could face further job cuts as the airline industry faces a long recovery due to the coronavirus pandemic. “As we continue to closely monitor market conditions, we are examining a range of options to appropriately scale our business to match the realities of the global airline industry recovery from the severe impacts of Covid-19,” GE said in a statement. The company warned in May it could cut as much as 25% of its global aviation workforce in 2020.

5. Gap earnings fall short, shares slide

Pedestrians pass in front of a GAP store in New York.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Gap saw its stock fall nearly 10% after the retailer reported weaker-than-expected earnings for the previous quarter. The company earned 25 cents per share during the third quarter, while analysts polled by Refinitiv had forecast a profit of 32 cents per share. Gap’s disappointing earnings came amid an increase in marketing expenditures, which offset gains for sales gains at Old Navy and Athleta. However, Gap said it is still “optimistic” about the future.

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