What's moving markets today: May 22, 2019

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7:13 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Target had a killer start to 2019

Americans may have slowed their shopping at Kohl's and Nordstrom during the start of 2019, but they flooded into Target.

Sales at Target (TGT) stores open at least a year rose 4.8% during the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period a year earlier. Target's digital sales grew 42% during the quarter, too.

Both of those metrics from Target beat rival Walmart (WMT), which also had a strong start to the year. Target said it gained market share during the quarter, which may have come at the expense of struggling department stores and ailing retailers.

Target's stock jumped around 8% during premarket trading on the sales and profit beat.

"Over the last two years we have made important investments," in remodeling stores and offering new ways to buy online, CEO Brian Cornell said in prepared remarks.

This year, Cornell said Target will "extend the reach" of same-day buying options as retail's delivery wars escalate. It also plans to introduce new brands, remodel old stores and open new small stores in cities.

7:44 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Lowe's tumbles after it cuts full-year outlook

Lowe's (LOW) shares sank 10% in premarket trading following a mixed earnings report, which included a weaker-than-expected outlook.

The home improvement retailer's revenue and same-store sales for the first quarter came in above analyst expectations, but its earnings per share was slightly below predictions.

For fiscal 2019, the company reduced its earnings per share guidance range to $5.45 to $5.65. It was previously expected to earn between $6.00 to $6.10 per share.

The company cited higher costs that hit margins.

CEO Marvin Ellison said its sales is a "clear indication that the consumer is healthy," but said the company had several "unanticipated" problems, which led it to cut its guidance.

7:18 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Qualcomm's stock sinks after judge rules its practices violates US antitrust law

Qualcomm (QCOM) shares are sinking 9% in pre-market trading after a federal judge said the company illegally charged companies sky-high prices to license its technology.

The company is the world's largest maker of smartphone modems and microchips.

In a case brought to court in 2017 by the US Federal Trade Commission, District Court Judge Lucy Koh said Qualcomm should not receive a percentage of sales of each phone a company sells; instead, it should receive a much smaller amount based on what Qualcomm technology exists inside the phone. It also must license its patents to rival chipmakers.

Qualcomm is expected to appeal the decision. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more here.

6:36 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Chinese surveillance firm's stock plunges after reports of possible US ban

Shares in Chinese surveillance company Hikvision plunged on Wednesday following a report that the Trump administration is considering banning it from buying US goods.

Hikvision stock plummeted the daily limit of 10% during early morning trading in Shenzhen. It recovered some of those losses to close about 6% lower.

The move would be Washington's latest attempt to curb Beijing's tech ambitions, and a further escalation of the US-China trade war as talks have stalled.

Hikvision manufactures surveillance cameras and security products powered by artificial intelligence. It's faced international criticism for surveillance operations in Tibet and Xinjiang.

6:35 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

The latest from the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve will release minutes from its meeting on April 30 and May 1 today at 2 p.m. ET.

At the meeting, central bankers led by Chair Jerome Powell left the Fed's key benchmark rate unchanged, sticking with the wait-and-see approach outlined earlier this year amid uncertainty about where the US economy is headed.

Investors will scrutinize the minutes for signs of the Fed's commitment to the status quo.

The meeting took place before new rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs reignited the trade war between the US and China, threatening global economic growth.

6:42 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Amazon's shareholder meeting begins

Amazon's (AMZN) annual shareholder meeting kicks off in Seattle. This year's proxy statement is a doozy, with 12 shareholder proposals on everything from food waste to hate speech.

Two proposals deal with Amazon's facial recognition technology, Rekognition:

  • One calls for a study of the effects of its use by government agencies.
  • Another goes further, requesting a moratorium on sales of the technology to governments.

Environmental concerns are on the agenda, too. A proposal supported by thousands of the company's own employees would require the company to report what it's doing to address and prepare for climate change.

6:34 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Checking in on global markets

🌍European markets opened mixed. Stocks were flat in Germany but dropped 0.2% in France. Britain's FTSE 100 index is up 0.4%, with multinational companies like BP (BP) standing to gain from a weaker pound.

💷Sterling dropped 0.3% lower to $1.26 on Wednesday as Prime Minister Theresa May's final bid to get a Brexit deal through the UK parliament appears dead on arrival. That could increase the odds of a messy exit from the EU.

🌏Stocks in Asia were also mixed, with the Shanghai Composite index falling 0.5% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rising 0.1%. Japan's Nikkei also edged up.

Tuesday's close: The Dow closed up 0.8% as tech stocks rebounded. The S&P 500 jumped 0.9%, and the Nasdaq rose 1.1%.