Stock Market Today: Will the Fed Finally Give In to QE3?

The stock market today opened flat awaiting minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) June meeting that will be released this afternoon.

Prior to the release of the Fed minutes, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that Spain will work immediately towards more government efficiency and austerity. After yesterday's announcement by the Eurozone finance ministers to inject Spanish banks with 30 billion euros ($36.6 billion), Rajoy declared that Spain would cut 65 billion euros or almost $80 billion from its budget in less than three years.

Rajoy said this would be done through cutting public institutions and social welfare programs such as unemployment, plus raising taxes. These decisions come a day after Spain was given an extra year to lower its deficit.

The Federal Reserve will release its minutes around 2 p.m. today and everyone will want to know if QE3 is on its way.

For over a year now investors have pined over the prospect of the Fed lifting the markets, if only for the short-term, through more quantitative easing measures. As experts have proclaimed this action would simply be another "Band-Aid" for a beaten down market.

Money Morning's Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald put the effects of additional stimulus very simply.

"It has never worked since the dawn of recorded time and it will not work now," said Fitz-Gerald. "You cannot debase your currency and work your way out of this for anything but a short-term basis."

With last week's underwhelming jobs reports and signs from corporate earnings and manufacturing that the economy is slowing further, it might be hard for Chairman Bernanke and the Fed to ignore the option of QE3 any longer.

If Bernanke continues to just hint at more easing that may not be enough to lift this struggling market.

In other domestic news the trade deficit shrank 3.8% to $48.7 billion led by lower crude oil prices, bringing imports down while exports held up well, increasing 0.2%. U.S. wholesale inventories rose 0.3% but these numbers did little to soothe investor's fears ahead of the Fed minutes.

While JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) are set to release earnings on Friday, Marriott International (NYSE: MAR) is today's biggest company reporting.

Marriott International (NSYE: MAR) will release its second-quarter earnings after Wednesday's closing bell. Analysts expect on average for Marriott to earn 42 cents a share, up 13.5% over the same quarter a year ago.

What might be even more impressive is that analysts have not changed their estimates over the last three months. Given that many companies are issuing lower guidance before reporting earnings, Marriott appears to be weathering the storm of economic uncertainties better than most.

Marriott has growing business in emerging markets from Latin America to the Middle East and just announced it will open its first hotel in Sri Lanka where tourism is booming.

Analysts do expect Marriott to report lower revenue compared to the year ago quarter but with an increase in profits expected this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Over the past year Marriott stock is only up a little over 5% but it is one of 2012's best performing stocks, up over 31% year-to-date. And while its dividend isn't spectacular at 1.35% it has steadily paid out one over the past 85 years, offering stability in a very volatile market.

Today MAR is up a slight 0.3% in advance of its earnings report.

The Dow Jones today was down 45 points, or 0.35% and the S&P 500 was down 1.7 points or 0.13% in early trading.

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