The Dow is working its way towards another triple-digit loss today ahead of the “all-important” Fed Minutes due out at 2PM. Currently, the Dow is down 84 points to 12,744. Oil has passed $131 a barrel for the first time, no surprise there, and also seems to be weighing on the market. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 are also trading lower but are holding up better than the Dow.

The Federal Reserve will release its minutes from its April 29-30 meeting later today which should provide more clues into whether or not they think rising energy prices are a serious threat to the economy. Rising food, energy, and gas prices will continue to dominate the news until something is figured out.

In earnings news, Intuit (INTU, $28.95, up $1.74) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, $45.52, down $0.94) reported earnings yesterday and the stocks are going in different directions despite both companies announcing good earnings.

Intuit said earnings were 20% higher for the quarter and will buy-back $600 million of its shares. A couple of analysts were out this morning changing their ratings for the stock. One analyst downgraded the stock from “Buy” to “Hold” and lowered his price target while another maintained an “Outperform” rating for Intuit as the company exceeded his forecast. With tax season over for most of us and it is usually the company’s biggest quarter, watching Intuit’s stock price will be like watching paint dry as it seems to languish in the summer months.

HP grew profits by 16% for the quarter and revenue was ahead of what Wall Street had forecast. However, analysts are worried about HP’s growth and the company’s recent acquisition of Electronic Data Systems (EDS, $24.33, up $0.03). One analyst kept a price target of $60 a share for HP but it wasn’t enough to keep the stock from trading lower.

As you can see, both companies reported great earnings but this is exactly why it is so risky to play options around an earnings announcement. One stock is up while the other is down despite both of them beating the Street. This reminds me of an old market saying… “the market can remain irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”

Rick Rouse