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08Sep2017 Market Update: Wall Street Struggles For Direction As Irma Threatens Florida, DOW Up 47 Points, Nasdaq Down 21 Points, US Dollar Choppy, But Steady At The 91 Level

Written by Gary

US stocks are mixed in sea-saw trading in early afternoon trading (SPY -0.03%) as investors assessed Hurricane Harvey and Irma. WTI crude made a huge -3.0% drop this morning.

Here is the current market situation from CNN Money

North and South American markets are lower today with shares in Mexico off the most. The IPC is down 0.44% while Brazil's Bovespa is off 0.39% and U.S.'s S&P 500 is lower by 0.03%.

Looking at the last three columns (below), the first one (Actual), is what was reported this morning. The second column (Forecast) is what analysts had forecast and the third column is the previous report. Full calendar HERE.

What Is Moving the Markets

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Wall St. struggles for direction as Irma threatens Florida

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were mixed in choppy trading on Friday as investors assessed the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey and tracked Hurricane Irma as it plowed toward Florida.

Will Saudi Aramco deliver world record profit for next year's IPO?

LONDON (Reuters) - When oil giant Saudi Aramco discloses its financials for the first time next year, it must either surprise investors with world record profits or reduce its aspirations for a $2 trillion valuation in its initial public offering (IPO). [IPO-ARMO.SE]

Criticism of Equifax's data breach response mounts, shares tumble

(Reuters) - Equifax Inc shares tumbled as much as 18 percent on Friday as cyber security experts and customers criticized the consumer credit score provider's response to a hack that may have stolen personal details of up to 143 million Americans.

U.S. seeks to jail Shkreli, citing 'pattern of threats'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to jail Martin Shkreli while he awaits sentencing for securities fraud, after a Facebook post by the former drug company executive about Hillary Clinton prompted an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.

Jamie Dimon leaves Wall Street perch to have a say in Washington

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon is starting to look like Corporate America's shadow president.

Too soon to predict timing of next Fed rate hike: Dudley

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It is too soon to predict when the Federal Reserve should next raise U.S. interest rates as it continues to tighten policy, given "cross currents" in the economy and markets, New York Fed President William Dudley said on CNBC TV on Friday.

FBI probing if Uber used software to interfere with rivals: WSJ

(Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing to see if Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] had used software to illegally interfere with its competitors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Inflation targets still proving elusive

LONDON (Reuters) - Bank of England rate setters won't shock markets with any policy moves when they meet next week as a struggling economy and Brexit fears offset any concerns over inflation sailing well above target.

Exclusive: ECB policymakers agree on cutting stimulus - sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European Central Bank policymakers agreed at their meeting on Thursday that their next step would be to begin reducing their monetary stimulus, three sources with direct knowledge of the discussion said.

Manafort's Russia Meeting Notes Contain "No Damaging Information" About Don Jr.

A day ago, the New York Times dropped its latest embarrassing, but ultimately meaningless, leak from Senate investigators, who told the Grey Lady (under the cover of anonymity, of course) that Donald Trump Jr. had testified that he was trying to determine Hillary Clinton's "fitness" for office when he took the infamous "Russia meeting" at Trump Tower in June 2016, shortly after his father had cemented his grip on the Republican nomination.

Already, the White House - or perhaps a sympathetic lawmaker - is helping Trump Jr. fight back. According to a Politico report citing unnamed government officials, notes taken by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort during the Russia meeting show nothing damaging to the Trump family or campaign officials.

"The notes from the meeting do not contain any damaging information about Clinton or references to promises of damaging information about her, nor do they indicate that officials on the campaign were promising favors or seeking them in return for money, the people who've seen them said.

According to these people, the notes have been with Senate officials for weeks and have been reviewed by a number of people on Capitol Hill. Also in attendance at the June 2016 meeting in New York were a Russian lawyer, a Russian businessman and other Trump campaign officials, including Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law."

Manafort is believed to be the primary target in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Earlier this month, Mueller reportedly enlisted the help of an "elite" IRS investigative unit to scrutinize Manafort's tax returns, a ...

Retail Bloodbath After Target Announces Price Cuts On "Thousands Of Items"

Amazon may have the most razor thin margins in the entire retail world, but that doesn't mean that its peers can't catch up as the global race to the deflationary bottom enters its final stage.

Moments ago, that's precisely what Target did when it announced on its blog that it has taken a "close look" at products most important to its customers to ensure they're priced right daily, and has cut prices on "thousands of items." The company also unveiled that it has "eliminated more than two-thirds of our price and offer call-outs so you can more easily spot the savings" and that it is not "ditching promotions."

In short, Target just pre-preannounced that it will very shortly be guiding both margins and earnings much lower. The only question is whether Amazon will allow it to expand revenues by enough to offset the bottom line drop.

Judging by the market, the answer is no...

... and not only at Target, but the entire retail sector has been similarly crushed as Amazon takes another multi-billion chunk in market cap from of its comeptition.

Below is the full Target blog post that inspired today's retail bloodbath:

Pssst... Here's How to Save Big During Your Target Run (And There's No Math Required!) ...

Howard Marks Unveils The 6 Options For Investing In Today's "Low-Return World"

Via Seabreeze Partners' Doug Kass,

In late July, Oaktree Capital Management co-chairman Howard Marks issued several market warnings in "There They Go Again ... Again," which I extensively highlighted in my Diary.

"There is plenty more food for thought in this must-read 22 pages of observations. Howard closes his musings with this advice:

"If you refuse to fall into line in carefree markets like today's, it's likely that, for a while, you'll (a) lag in terms of return and (b) look like an old fogey. But neither of those is much of a price to pay if it means keeping your head (and capital) when others eventually lose theirs. In my experience, times of laxness have always been followed eventually by corrections in which penalties are imposed.

It may not happen this time, but I'll take that risk. In the meantime, Oaktree and its people will continue to apply the standards that have served us so well over the last [thirty] years."

From my perch, greed reigns today.

As Howard relates, investors make the most -- and safest -- money when they do things that other people don't want to do. But when most investors are unworried and taking unusually high risks, asset prices are typically elevated, risk premiums are low and markets are risky.

It's what happens when there is too much money and too little fear."

--Kass Diary, "

Equifax Hit With $70 Billion Lawsuit After Leaking 143 Million Social Security Numbers

One day after Equifax announced (more than one month after it itself had learned) that its systems had been hacked, resulting in up to 143 million social security numbers, names, addresses, driver's license data, birth dates, some credit card numbers and pretty much all other critical personal data being leaked and currently for sale somewhere on the dark web, the company whose job is, ironically, to protect the credit and personal information of hundreds of millions of Americans has been hit with a monster class-action lawsuit seeking as much as $70 billion.

In retrospect, we find it surprising that it wasn't multi-trillion lawsuit in light of the galactic stupidity exhibited by a company whose server apparently had zero firewalls from the internet and where any hacker could get access to the most confidential information available.

And while for the most part class action lawsuits are filed by ambulance-chasing lawyers seeking a recovery for a class of plaintiffs in exchange for a juicy 25-40% of the final amount, in this case In the complaint filed in Portland, Ore., federal court has every single merit to ultimately crush Equifax for what is nothing less than unprecedented carelessness in handling precious information.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged Equifax was negligent in failing to protect consumer data, choosing to save money instead of spending on technical safeguards that could have stopped the attack, Bloomberg reports. Imagine how much angrier they would be if they found that instead of "saving" the money, the company used it instead to buy back its own stock (in this case from selling executives).

"In an attempt to increase profits, Equifax negligently failed to maintain adequate technological safeguards to protect Ms. McHill and Mr. Reinhard's information from unauthorized access by hacker ...

Investors Right to Fear Kroger's Future

Kroger says Amazon and discounters are clouding its outlook, which shareholders don't like to hear.

Miners Risk Falling Down Same Old Hole

Mining firms are riding high as metal prices touch their loftiest levels in years. But rebounding investment in copper and iron mines could spell trouble next year.

Ambarella's Newest Vision Worth a Look

Chip maker Ambarella has floundered with weak GoPro, drone sales. But computer vision chips offer a promising turnaround

July 2017 Headline Wholesale Sales Down Marginally?

Written by Steven Hansen

The headlines say wholesale sales were down marginally month-over-month with inventory levels remaining elevated. Our analysis disagrees.

The Tell: Here's what history says about Hurricane Irma and the stock market

Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Florida and getting the blame for some weakness in stocks. History shows that major hurricanes have a limited impact on the market's aggregate performance, but the size of this storm could have an outsize impact on individual stocks and industry groups, say analysts at J.P. Morgan.

One surprising way Hurricane Irma could affect the U.S. beyond Florida

While Irma is projected to wreak havoc across much of Florida, it's impact could be felt outside the Sunshine State.

Here's why Chili's slashing its menu by 40% is a good thing

Chili's said it was cutting its menu down to 75 items from more than 100 to focus on its core items.

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