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Blue Apron gains after Albertsons agrees to buy meal-kit rival

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 17:12

Blue Apron Holdings Inc. shares gained Wednesday afternoon after grocer Albertsons Co. announced that it had bought a rival meal-kit service called Plated. Albertsons, a private company that owns grocery-store chains including its namesake, Safeway and Vons, did not disclose the price paid for Plated. Plated offers meal kits through the mail, like Blue Apron, but will now make that company's offerings available in some of its 2,300-plus grocery stores nationwide. Blue Apron shares gained more than 3% to $5.40 in late trading, after falling 5.5% in the regular session to $5.22. Shares have fallen by as much as 50% from the $10 price commanded in its July initial public offering, amid concerns about competition from the likes of Amazon.com Inc.

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Alphabet's Nest announces new internet-connected home security system

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:50

Alphabet Inc. unit Nest Labs Inc. announced a line of six new internet-connected security products on Wednesday. Nest Secure, which will retail for $499, is the company's security system and uses a range of sensors, speakers and Nest's app to protect homes. Nest Secure includes a smart speaker-like base station, several motion sensors and near-field communication-enabled fob keys. In addition to the sensors and fob keys, Nest also announced a video doorbell and an outdoor security camera called Nest Cam IQ for $349. The company did not reveal a price for the video doorbell, called Nest Hello. Alphabet stock was flat after hours and closed up 1.1% to $947.54 in the regular session. Alphabet shares have risen 19.6% this year, with the S&P 500 index rising 12%.

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Juno Therapeutics to launch $225 million follow-on offering

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:30

Shares of Juno Therapeutics Inc. fell more than 1% late Wednesday after the biopharmaceutical company announced the launch of a proposed follow-on public offering worth $225 million. Juno said it expects to grant the underwriters an option to purchase up to an additional $33.75 million of shares. The company plans on using the proceeds for general corporate purposes and working capital, Juno said in a statement. Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan are joint bookrunners. The stock ended the regular trading session up 3.2%.

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Tesla working with AMD on Autopilot chip: CNBC

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:12

Tesla Inc. is working with Advance Micro Devices Inc. to produce a chip for its Autopilot, the car maker's suite of advanced driver-assistance systems, aiming to reduce Tesla's reliance on Nvidia Corp. , according to a CBNC report that cited a source familiar with the matter. The report cited the same source saying more than 50 people are working under Jim Keller, the head of Autopilot, and Tesla has brought on several former AMD employees to work on the project, CNBC said. Tesla has developed its own ADAS software and related systems and relies on an onboard Nvidia AI "supercomputer." AMD shares rose 1.5% late Wednesday, while Tesla shares and Nvidia shares fell 0.1% and 0.6%.

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S&P 500, Dow end at records after Fed decision on balance sheet

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:05

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out marginal gains to end at records on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve outlined its plan to start reducing its massive balance sheet in October. As fully expected, policy makers made no change to interest rates, but said the Fed would start to shrink its $4.5 trillion balance sheet by $10 billion a month. The S&P 500 closed 1.59 points, or less than 0.1%, higher at 2,508.24. The Nasdaq Composite index slipped 5.28 points, or less than 0.1%, to 6,456.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 41.79 points, or 0.2%, to 22,412.59. Among the best performer on Wall Street were energy companies, which rose in tandem with oil prices. Marathon Oil Corp jumped 3.5% and was the best performers on the S&P 500.

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Oil prices top $50 to mark highest finish in about 4 months

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:53

Oil climbed Wednesday, with U.S. prices topping $50 a barrel for their highest finish in about four months. Support from expectations that major oil producers will extend their output-cut deal further into next year outweighed pressure from a bigger-than-expected weekly rise in U.S. crude inventories. Tensions in the Middle East tied to President Donald Trump's comments on Iran's nuclear deal also supported prices. October West Texas Intermediate crude , which expired at the settlement, rose 93 cents, or 1.9%, to settle at $50.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the highest finish since for a front-month contract since May 24, according to FactSet data. November WTI settled at $50.69, up 79 cents, or 1.6%.

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U.S. dollar index hit on a two-week high following Fed policy statement

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:45

The ICE U.S. Dollar index shot to the highest level since early September after the Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged, but confirmed the start of the reduction its $4.5 trillion balance sheet. The U.S. central bank said it would start the the unwind in October at a pace of $10 billion a month, in line with analyst expectations. Meanwhile, the Fed's interest-rate projections, or dot plots, suggest another rate hike in 2017, followed by three additional raises in 2018. All totaled, the policy update offered a hawkish turn for the dollar, which turned positive against key rivals like the euro , Swiss franc , and Canadian dollar , while breaking through ¥112 against the Japanese yen . The British pound , which initially defended its gains, also gave in and flipped into negative territory against the buck

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Shares of Alibaba-backed Best Inc. jump in market debut

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:30

Shares of Best Inc. , a logistics firm based in China, were up 7% in afternoon trade after the company made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The company, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , sold 45 million American depositary shares at $10 each, on the low end of its range, to raise $450 billion. The company had initially set a price range of $13 to $15 a share and planned to offer 53.5 million new shares and 8.5 million existing shares. Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank were the lead underwriters on the offering.

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Financial stocks spike up after Fed, with Bank of America and Wells Fargo shares swinging higher

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:18

Financial stocks spiked higher in afternoon trade Wednesday, after the Federal Reserve said it would begin normalizing its balance sheet, as expected, in October. The SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF was up 0.6%, after trading unchanged just prior to the Fed's announcement. Among the ETF's more heavily weighted components, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s stock climbed 1.0%, after being up just 0.3% pre-Fed, while shares of Bank of America Corp. jumped up 0.9% after being down 0.4% pre-Fed. Elsewhere, Shares of Citigroup Inc. rallied 1.1%, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. gained 0.9% and Wells Fargo & Co. advanced 0.8%. Just before the Fed, shares of Citigroup were up 0.2%, of Goldman Sachs head inched up less than 0.1% and of Wells Fargo were down 0.1%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 eased 0.1%, after being down less than 0.1% pre-Fed.

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Wal-Mart will offer current workers additional hours rather than hire seasonal workers

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:13

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Wednesday that it will offer extra hours to existing workers rather than hiring thousands of seasonal workers, which is what the retail giant did last year. Thousands of the company's workers have completed Wal-Mart's training programs, "which prepares them to more effectively serve customers, especially during this busy season," said Walmart U.S. Chief Operating Officer Judith McKenna in a statement posted on the company website. The company will also bring back its Holiday Helpers, who guide shoppers to the fastest checkout lines and grab forgotten items to add to baskets. So far Macy's Inc. and Target Corp. are among the retailers that have announced their holiday hiring plans, with tens of thousands of seasonal workers expected to be added. Wal-Mart shares are nearly flat in Wednesday trading, and up 16% for the year so far. The S&P 500 index is up nearly 12% for 2017 to date, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 13.2% for the period.

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Gold slips in electronic trade as Fed announces details on balance sheet reduction

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:09

Gold prices settled higher Wednesday but slipped in electronic trading after the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to keep interest rates unchanged. December gold rose $5.80, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,316.40 an ounce, marking its first gain in four sessions. In electronic trading after the Fed statement, prices traded lower at $1,310.70. The central bank said it will taper its $4.5 trillion balance sheet by $10 billion per month, the first reduction in nine years. Meanwhile, the Fed's interest rate projections, known as the dot plot, suggested a rate hike in December and three more in 2018. [Myra Picache contributed to this report.]

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Treasury yields swings into positive territory after Fed statement

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:07

The Federal Reserve kept interest rate unchanged between 1% to 1.25%. The central bank said the reduction of its $4.5 trillion portfolio of government securities would begin in October. The dot plot, which shows senior Fed officials' forecasts for interest rates, shifted downward from 3% to 2.8% for its longer-rate expectations. 12 out of the 16 FOMC members said they expected a third rate hike for the year. The 10-year Treasury yield was higher at 2.268%, compared with 2.239% late Tuesday. The 30-year Treasury bond yield was up at 2.824%, versus 2.810%. While, the 2-year Treasury note yield jumped to 1.442% from 1.401%.

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U.S. stocks turn lower after Fed decision

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:06

U.S. stock-market indexes inched modestly lower after the Federal Reserve outlined its plan for the reduction of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet on Wednesday. As fully expected, policy makers made no change to interest rates. The Fed's so-called dot plot, or policy makers' forecasts of interest rates for 2017 and 2018 were mostly unchanged. The Fed still expects to raise rates once more this year and three times in 2018. The Fed will begin reducing its balance sheet in October. The S&P 500 fell 2 points, or 0.1%, to 2,504. The Nasdaq Composite index slipped 22 points, or 0.3%, to 6,439. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 22,371.

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Fed sets plans to reduce balance sheet after nine years of buildup

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:00

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced that, for the first time in nine years, it will start reducing the size of its massive balance sheet. In a unanimous and widely anticipated decision, the Fed said in October it will start reducing its $4.5 trillion balance sheet by $10 billion per month. The Fed as expected kept its targeted federal funds rate between 1% to 1.25%, and said the devastation caused by hurricanes is not likely to materially alter the course of the economy over the medium term. The Fed's interest rate projections, known as the dot plot, still suggest an interest-rate hike in December and three more in 2018. The Fed did reduce the median estimate of 2019 interest rates to 2.7% from 2.9% and said in the longer run that rates will reach 2.8% from a previous estimate of 3%.

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John Deere recalls 25,000 lawn tractors for a 'crash hazard'

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 13:52

Deere & Co. recalled about 25,000 lawn tractors, and 500 transmissions sold as parts, because the transmissions can fail, posing "a crash hazard." The company said there have been no reports of incidents or injuries. The recall involves John Deere model D105 tractors made in the U.S., sold from February 2016 through July 2017 at John Deere dealers, Home Depot and Lowe's stores nationwide for about $1,500. The service transmissions were sold by John Deere dealers from March 2016 through August 2017 for about $300. Deere's stock, which tacked on 0.7% in afternoon trade, have slipped 1.7% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 has gained 2.8%.

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Holiday retail sales expected to reach about $1.04 trillion: Deloitte

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 13:41

Experts in Deloitte's retail and distribution practice said Wednesday that they expect holiday sales, seasonally adjusted and excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, to be $1.04 trillion to $1.05 trillion between November and January. They anticipate a year-over-year holiday retail sales increase of 4% to 4.5%, and e-commerce sales will rise 18% to 21%, reaching $111 billion to $114 billion. A strong labor market and high consumer confidence are two factors responsible for the growth. An increased savings rate and the impact of an active hurricane season are risks to the forecast, Deloitte said. Global business advisory firm AlixPartners has a wider forecast, anticipating a year-over-year increase in holiday retail spending between 3.5% and 4.4%, the group said Wednesday. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF is down 6.2% for the past year while the S&P 500 index is up more than 17% for the period.

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Mixed action in Dow, S&P 500 belies bullish market internal readings

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 13:33

The big 3 stock market indexes were mixed to little changed in afternoon trade Wednesday, as investors appeared to hold their ground ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy update, but market internals suggest the broader market is actually enjoying healthy gains. The number of advancing stocks is dominating decliners by a 1,777-to-1,020 score on the NYSE, and by a 1,554-to-1,079 margin on the Nasdaq exchange. Volume in advancing stocks made up 61.3% of total volume on the Big Board, but just 47.3% of the total on the Nasdaq. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2 points, or just a fraction of 0.1%, while the S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.2%.

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Bill Ackman believes ADP is ignoring competitive threats

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 13:04

Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, on Wednesday warned that Automatic Data Processing Inc. is at risk of becoming like IBM Corp. and again pressured the payrolls services company to work with him to boost shareholder value. "I'm not saying ADP is IBM today, but it is at risk of becoming IBM if they don't take seriously the competitive threats they face and if they don't run their businesses as efficiently as they can," Ackman said during an interview on CNBC. IBM, once an undisputable technology leader, has continued to see its revenue dwindle in recent year. The hedge-fund manager also criticized ADP for "not hitting on all cylinders" and growing as it had in the past. Ackman's comments follow the disclosure of a letter in which Pershing took its case to restructure ADP directly to its shareholders. Pershing has invested $2.3 billion in ADP and has proposed three nominees to the board. Shares of ADP slid 0.6%.

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Apple's stock drop exacts 30-point toll on Dow after report of watch connectivity issues

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:58

Shares of Apple Inc. on Wednesday were weighing on the Dow Jones Industrial Average in early trade, capping gains in the benchmark after a negative report. Apple Inc. shares sank 2.5% Wednesday morning after the iPhone and Apple Watch maker reportedly admitted there are issues with connectivity of the Apple Watch Series 3, its latest model. Shares of Apple were down $3.96, shaving about 30 points from the price-weighted Dow . A $1 change in any of the Dow's components equates to a 6.89-point swing in the average. Overall, the Dow was trading at break-even levels at 22,388, as a 1%, or $2.62, move in Boeing Co.'s shares help to offset Apple's retreat. Investors were awaiting a key policy update from the Federal Reserve due at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index was seeing muted trade at 2,507, while the Nasdaq Composite Index headed lower by 0.3% to 6,443.

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GE to end corporate jet service for executives as it cuts costs--WSJ

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:50

General Electric Co. said it will shut down its corporate jet fleet Wednesday in a cost-cutting move, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, which cited a person familiar with the situation. The industrial conglomerate, which has seen its stock underperform its peers and the broader market by wide margins this year, will still operate some helicopters, other aircraft overseas and will use charter services as needed, the WSJ report said. GE's stock gained 0.6% in morning trade. It has advanced 2.6% since closing at a 2-year low of $23.72 on Sept. 11, was still down 22.9% this year, to pace the year-to-date decliners in the Dow Jones Industrial Average by a wide margin. The SPDR Industrial Select Sector ETF has rallied 13.0% year to date, while the Dow has climbed 13.3%.

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