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IPOs boom and the Fed meets — five things to know about today

July 29, 2014, 12:22 PM UTC
A user checks a Twitter feed on a smartphone.
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Hello, friends and Fortune readers.

Steve Ballmer is getting ready for the NBA owners meeting in in mid-August. Late Monday, a judge ruled in favor of Rochelle Sterling and confirmed her authority to sell her husband Donald’s Los Angeles Clippers to the former Microsoft CEO. Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.

1. Earnings, earnings, earnings.

Today is a busy day of second-quarter earnings reports. This morning UPS (UPS) and Pfizer (PFE) will deliver their results. Pfizer, which failed to buy U.K.-based Astrazeneca to take advantage of lower tax rates, is expected to post earnings excluding one-time costs of 57 cents a share on $12.5 billion in sales. Analysts will be listening for how a thwarted tax inversion will affect the company’s plans. Techies can look forward to Twitter’s (TWTR) release after the market close. Analyst expect the company to report losses of 30 cents a share on top of $282.8 million in sales.

2. The Fed meets behind closed doors.

The Fed kicks off its two-day meeting today. When policymakers emerge and issue a statement Wednesday afternoon, the markets will be listening closely for any word on when the central bank will start increasing interest rates. In a recent testimony to Congress, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee is closely following developments in the economy and could raise rates sooner than expected.

3. The IPO craze.

This week marks the busiest for initial public offerings since August 2000. Twenty-five companies are expected to trade this week in New York and raise almost $7 billion, according to Dealogic data. The boom is being driven by growing equity prices and low volatility. The largest IPO this week is Synchrony Financial, the consumer credit arm of General Electric. It’s expected to raise about $3 billion when it prices tomorrow.

4. Russian sanctions get toughened up.

The U.S. and Europe passed tougher sanctions against Russia, targeting its energy, defense and financial sectors. Officials are taking a harder stance against the Kremlin after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Russia’s growing involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. The sanctions should be finalized today.

5. Blackberry may have seen its best days.

Blackberry (BBYR) has struggled as newer touchscreen smartphones took an early lead over its business-minded phones: Shipments of its products are expected to drop 50% this year to about 9.7 million smartphones. CEO John Chen admitted in a Bloomberg interview that he may not be able to turn the tide. “Whether it’s going to be good enough to be iconic again,” said Chen. “OK, that’s something I need to chew on. I don’t know the answer to that question.”