Apple tops this week's earnings parade. That's just one of the big money stories you need to know this morning.
Earnings season has reached the halfway point. Drug giant Merck (MRK) says profits fell 35 percent, but still topped expectations. Among other big names we'll be watching this week: energy leaders Exxon Mobil (XOM) and ConocoPhilips (COP), as well as General Motors (GM), Pfizer (PFE) and Facebook (FB).
After today's closing bell, we'll hear from Apple (AAPL). Analysts are expecting the company to report that demand for key products remained steady, with iPhone sales of more than 33 million for the quarter. The company is likely to launch a new version of the iPhone next summer.
Shares of the retail chain Kohl's (KSS), which have done virtually nothing over the past few years, could jump 20 percent. According to Barron's magazine, Kohl's has improved its bland line of merchandise.
On Wall Street last week, the major averages posted modest gains. The Dow Industrials (^DJI) rose 1.1 percent, while the Nasdaq (^IXIC) and S&P 500 (^GPSC) both gained nearly one percent, with the S&P ending at a record high.
A Standard & Poor's analyst notes that 90 percent of the 500 stocks in the index are higher this year – very close to the all-time high since he began keeping track more than three decades ago.
Good news for coffee drinkers. Coffee prices on international commodity exchanges have dropped to their lowest level in 4-1/2 years. That's because of bumper crops in Brazil, the world's largest producer, and other leading South and Central American growers. Prices at the retail level have not come down nearly as quickly, but we could see drops in Folgers, Maxwell House and other supermarket brands over the next few months. For Starbucks (SBUX), Dunkin' Donuts (DNKN) and other coffee shops, it means bigger profit margins.
And an important new television network launches tonight. Univision and Walt Disney (DIS) are trying to take advantage of an important demographic shift. We all know about the rise of the Hispanic community in the U.S., but the big change is the growth of a younger generation of Hispanics who speak English as their primary language. So the new cable network, called Fusion, is an English-language channel aimed at these younger Hispanics.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg