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Icahn steps down as Trump's special adviser on regulation

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 17:11

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said Friday he's stepping down as a special adviser to President Donald Trump on regulatory-reform issues. Icahn said in a letter he and the president agreed that he would cease the role. He wrote that he didn't want "partisan bickering about my role" to cloud the administration or the work of Neomi Rao, who has been appointed Trump's regulatory czar. Icahn didn't mention Trump's reaction to the violence at a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., but his resignation comes after several executives abandoned White House business councils after Trump said "both sides" were to blame.

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Fitch upgrades Greece's debt one notch to B-

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 16:36

Fitch Ratings late Friday upgraded its rating on Greece's sovereign debt one notch to B-, from CCC, with a positive outlook, saying that country's economy is "gradually recovering" and public finances are improving. The country's debt sustainability "will steadily improve," underpinned by on-going compliance with the terms of the European Stability Mechanism program, and reduced political risk, sustained GDP growth, and additional fiscal measures to take effect through 2020, Fitch said in a statement. The B-rating is "highly speculative." Greece last month returned to the bond market for the first time since 2014, selling 3 billion euros of five-year bonds, on offer that was oversubscribed. Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service in June also upgraded Greece's debt.

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U.S. stocks close lower, post second straight weekly loss

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 16:05

U.S. stock-market indexes ended the second straight week with losses after lackluster performance on Friday following White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon's ouster from the administration. The S&P 500 closed 4.46 points, or 0.2%, lower at 2,425.55 and booked a 0.7% weekly loss. The top loser on the S&P 500, Foot Locker, Inc. plunged 28% on Friday following earnings that missed expectations. The Nasdaq Composite index , which traded in positive territory most of the session, ended 5.39 points, or 0.1%, lower at 6,216.53, and booked a 0.6% loss over the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 76.22 points, or 0.4%, to 21,674.51 and fell 0.8% over the week. Weighing on the blue-chip index, Nike, Inc. fell more than 4%.

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Nike, Home Depot's stocks cut 30 points from Dow industrials in late trade

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 15:43

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Friday afternoon was being dragged lower by shares of Nike and Home Depot, as blue chips looked to close out another downbeat week, its fourth in succession, in negative territory. Shares of Nike Inc. , off 2.34, or 4.1%, and Home Depot Inc. , down $2.16, or 1.5%, together were weighing the Dow down by more than 30 points. Each $1 move in any of the price-weighted Dow's components its equivalent to a 6.84-point swing in the equity average. Overall, the Dow was off 33 points, or 0.2%, adding to Thursday's drop, which was the worst for the gauge since May 17; and snapped a 63-session streak without a decline of at least 1%. The Dow is set to end the week down about 0.6%, marking its fourth straight weekly drop since June 30, a sign that the industrials are losing momentum after a run of repeated all-time highs. Friday's trade was volatile as the market, during a thinly traded August session, reacted to political news events, notably the announcement that White House adviser Stephen Bannon was ousted amid a fervor of President Donald Trump's reaction to a white-supremacist rally over the weekend. The rest of the market was fighting to post slight gains. The S&P 500 index was trading up less than 0.1% at 2,431, while the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.2% at 6,232.

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Oil prices rally for the session, but fall for the week

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 14:52

Oil prices settled sharply higher Friday, buoyed by unconfirmed reports of a unit shutdown at a major U.S. refinery, as well as a weekly decline in the active drilling rig count for oil. September WTI crude rose $1.42, or 3%, to settle at $48.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was its highest finish in a week, but it still lost 0.6% from last Friday's finish.

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Mark Zuckerberg to take two months of paternity leave this year

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 13:44

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is taking two months of paternity leave as his wife expects their second child, Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook Friday. Zuckerberg said he will take a month off after the birth and then will later take off the month of December. He noted that Facebook offers four months of paternity leave. Shares of Facebook were up less than 1% Friday afternoon.

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Gold prices fail to hold above key $1,300 level

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 13:41

Gold prices touched their highest intraday level of the year on Friday, briefly topping $1,300 an ounce before pulling back to settle lower for the session. "The selloff is unusual as there was no data or market news to account for the [roughly] $15 drop" from the day's highs, said Mark O'Byrne, research director at GoldCore. "Risk aversion has eased with stocks eking out small gains and some traders may have decided to take profits at the $1,300 level." December gold fell 80 cents, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $1,291.60 an ounce after trading as high as $1,306.90. For the week, it fell 0.2%.

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Baker Hughes data show a decline in the weekly U.S. oil-rig count

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 13:14

Baker Hughes on Friday reported that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil fell by 5 to 763 rigs this week. The total active U.S. rig count, which includes oil and natural-gas rigs, also declined by 3 to 946, according to Baker Hughes. Oil prices added a bit more to earlier gains, with September West Texas Intermediate crude up $1.34, or 2.9%, for the session at $48.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It traded at $48.38 before the data.

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U.S. stocks rise to session highs after report of likely Bannon ouster

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 12:59

U.S. stocks rose to session highs Friday following a report that President Donald Trump has told senior aides he has decided to fire strategist Stephen Bannon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 27 points, or 0.1%, to 21,778. The S&P 500 index gained 8 points, or 0.3%, for 2,438. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 30 points, or 0.5%, to 6,252. The New York Times reported that Trump has discussed how and when to dismiss Bannon, while a person close to Bannon told the Times that he had submitted his resignation on Aug. 7.

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Matson's stock suffering biggest-ever selloff after new competition concerns prompt downgrades

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 12:54

Shares of shipping company Matson Inc. were suffering the biggest selloff since they started trading in January 1972, amid concerns over a new competitor to its West Coast-to-Hawaii shipping business. The stock's price drop of $7.09, or 24%, was shaving about 43 points off the Dow Jones Transportation Average , which was up 3 points in midday trade. The selloff topped the previous record of the $6.76, or 16.2%, drop on Nov. 8, 2016, according to FactSet data. TOTE Inc. announced Thursday plans to establish a new domestic shipping service to Hawaii, with plans to use new environmentally advanced containerships in 2020. Stephens Inc. analyst Jack Atkins downgraded Matson to equal weight from overweight and slashed his stock price target to $23 from $36, citing competition concerns in Matson's core shipping lane. "If it materializes, we think this could be a material headwind to profitability and, as such, we would anticipate significant multiple contraction for MATX in the interim and an extended period of volatility and uncertainty for the stock," Atkins wrote in a note to clients. Wells Fargo's Michael Webber downgraded Matson to underperform from market perform and cut his target to $22 from $35. The stock has tumbled 37% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.8%.

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Stephen Bannon being removed from White House: reports

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 12:47

President Trump has decided to remove Stephen Bannon, his chief strategist, media reports said Friday. The New York Times said Trump has told senior aides he is removing Bannon, and the Drudge Report said he was "moving on." Earlier Friday, Axios reported a decision on Bannon was imminent and that officials expected him to be fired. The reported decision to remove Bannon comes in the wake of Trump's controversial comments on the violence in Charlottesville.

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Oil prices turn higher, tap fresh session highs

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 12:00

Oil turned decidedly higher in Friday trading to touch fresh session highs, with prices looking to recoup some of the week's losses ahead of the expiration on Tuesday of the September futures contracts for West Texas Intermediate oil. September WTI crude rose 54 cents, or 1.2%, to trade at $47.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after trading as low as $46.78. October Brent crude traded at $52.18 a barrel, up $1.15, or 2.3%. WTI was still trading lower for the week, set to lose 2.1%, but Brent turned up about 0.1% for the week.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment trading above issue price in market debut

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 10:43

Shares of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc. were trading at $12.25 Friday morning, above the company's issue price, in the stock's debut on the Nasdaq. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, a video-focused offshoot of the book series, sold 2.5 million shares at $12 a share in a Reg A+ offering. The offering means that non-accredited investors were able to buy shares, and thus have equity in the company. HCFP/Capital Markets LLC, The Benchmark Company LLC and Weild & Co were the underwriters on the offering.

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Deere's stock suffering biggest selloff in 2 years after sales miss prompts downgrade

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 10:41

Shares of Deere & Co. tumbled 7.7% in active morning trade Friday, putting them on course for the biggest one-day loss in 6 years, after disappointing fiscal third-quarter results prompted a downgrade at Baird. Volume ballooned to 4.8 million shares, already more than double the full-day average of 2.1 million shares. Analyst Mircea Dobre cut his rating to neutral, after being at outperform since Oct. 31, and dropped his stock price target to $130 from $140. "Stock had a good run, it's about to get tougher going forward," Dobre wrote in a note to clients. "We thought 3Q would mark the last big operating beat quarter of FY17 before focus fully shifted to FY18...this proved not to be the case." Deere reported earlier Friday a quarterly profit that beat expectations, but sales that missed. The stock's decline Friday was the biggest since it lost 8.1% on Aug. 21, 2015. The stock was still up 10.9% year to date, while the SPDR Industrial Select Sector ETF has gained 8.1% and the S&P 500 has advanced 8.4%.

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Shares of movie theater stocks tumble as Apple, Hollywood reignite concerns around theatrical windows

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 10:38

Shares of movie theater chains stumbled out of the gate on Friday. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. stock fell more than 5% in morning trade, leading the film exhibitor group down. Shares of Regal Entertainment Group were down 4%, Cinemark Holdings Inc. shares fell more than 2% and shares of Marcus Corp. fell nearly 2%. B. Riley analyst Eric Wold pointed to a Bloomberg report that Apple Inc. and Hollywood studios were mulling the possibility of moving forward with a premium video on demand format, releasing new films just weeks after they open in theaters. Cinema chains have been opposed to this model, which would shrink the exclusive window of time where films can only be seen in theaters. Discussions about the best possible way to introduce PVOD have been going on for a while, and the price point being thrown around is in the range of $30 to $50. Time Warner Inc.-owned Warner Bros. and Comcast Corp.'s are said to be the studios leading the charge. Walt Disney Co. has been a hold out. Concerns surrounding the possibility of PVOD, coupled with soft box office returns have ravaged cinema chain stocks in 2017. Shares of AMC are down nearly 63% in the year to date, Regal Entertainment shares have dropped nearly 24%, Marcus Corp shares are down almost 22% and shares of Cinemark are down more than 9% in the year. By comparison, the S&P 500 index is up more than 8%.

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Airline stocks offer a 'good buying opportunity' after selloff in wake of Barcelona attack, analyst says

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 10:03

Airline stocks were mixed Friday, a day after a sharp sector selloff in response to the terrorist attack in Barcelona. Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc. rose 0.5% in morning trade after tumbling 5.2% on Thursday, while American Airlines Group Inc. lost 0.4% after falling 4.9% the day before. Shares of United Continental Holdings Inc. eased 0.3%, Southwest Airlines Co. gained 0.5% and JetBlue Airways Corp. lost 0.3%; those stock had shed 3.3%, 3.9% and 6.1%, respectively, on Thursday. The NYSE Arca Airline Index edged up 0.2%, after falling 3.2% on Thursday to a 5-month closing low. Analyst Helane Becker at Cowen & Co. said the recent pullback in airline shares provided a "good buying opportunity" for investors. "The recent incident in Barcelona will likely cause a slowdown in bookings for a few days, but we believe that traffic will pick up again as conferences pick up in September," Becker wrote in a note to clients. The airline index has lost 3.7% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.1%.

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Russell 2000 turns negative for 2017 in early trading

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 09:50

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap shares turned lower for the year on Friday, extending a recent spate of weakness that took the closely watched index below its 200-day moving average on Thursday. The index fell 0.7% on Friday, bringing its year-to-date decline to 0.5%. Most of the index's weakness has come recently; it is down 5.3% thus far in August. At current levels, it is down more than 7% from record levels hit in July. Thus far this week, the index is down 1.8%, a far larger decline than the S&P 500 , which is off 0.7%. The benchmark index remains 8.3% higher on the year, and it is within three percentage points of its record high. On Thursday, the Russell fell below its 200-day moving average for the first time in nearly 14 months, a bearish sign for longer-term momentum.

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U.S. stocks open mostly lower; major indexes set to extend weekly losses

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 09:31

U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Friday, extending the previous session's decline and putting major indexes on track for weekly losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 22 points, or 0.1%, to 21,732. The S&P 500 lost 0.6 point to 2,429. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1.2 point to 6,222. All three indexes are on track for a negative week, with the Dow down 0.6%, the S&P off 0.5%, and the Nasdaq having lost 0.6%. This is the second straight weekly decline for the S&P and the Dow, and the fourth straight down week for the Nasdaq. Recent losses have been fueled by geopolitical uncertainty, including tensions between the U.S. and North Korea last week, and a terrorist attack in Barcelona on Thursday. Among the most actively traded stocks, Ross Stones rallied 11% a day after it reported results that beat expectations, while Applied Materials gained 3.6% a day after its own results.

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Caterpillar stock slips after monthly retail sales data

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 09:25

Caterpillar Inc. said Friday that total machines retail sales for the rolling 3-month period ending July rose 12% from the same period a year ago, with growth in all geographic regions, after rising 7% in June. Caterpillar's stock fell 0.5% in premarket trade. Resource industries retail sales increased 8%, after falling 1% in June, as growth in the Asia/Pacific and Europe, Africa and Middle East regions offset declines in North America and Latin America. Construction industries sales rose 13%, after climbing 10% in June, while energy and transportation sales fell 2% after rising 1% in June. Caterpillar's stock has rallied 22% year to date through Thursday, while the SPDR Industrial Select Sector ETF has gained 8.4% and the S&P 500 has advanced 8.5%.

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Russell 2000 set to fall further after first close below 200-day moving average in 14 months

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 09:04

Small-capitalization stocks are set to fall further Friday, despite early indications of gains for large-cap stocks, after the Russell 2000 small-cap tracker closed the previous session below its 200-day moving average for the first time in 14 months. The 200-day moving average is viewed by many technicians as a dividing line between longer-term uptrends and downtrends. The iShares Russell 2000 ETF slipped 0.13% in premarket trade, putting it on track to open at the lowest level seen during regular session hours since May 31. Meanwhile, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF rose 0.09% ahead of the open and the PowerShares QQQ ETF , which tracks the technology-heavy Nasdaq 100 , tacked on 0.38%. The S&P 500 closed Thursday 3.6% above its 200-day moving average (MA) and the Nasdaq 100 ended 7.7% above its 200-day MA.

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