Stocks were mixed, but little changed, on the first trading day of September, kicking off a busy week.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,067.56, -30.9, (-0.2%)
- S&P 500: 2,002.28, -1.1, (-0.05%)
- Nasdaq: 4,598.19, +17.9, (+0.4%)
And now, the top stories on Monday:
1. Three pieces of economic data were released Tuesday morning. ISM's August manufacturing index came in at its highest level since March 2011, coming in at 59.0 against expectations for 57.0. Following the report, Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macro said, "In one line: Very strong, but probably overstating the true performance of manufacturing." Markit's August manufacturing PMI came in at 57.9, up from 55.8 in July, and serving as the index's best reading since April 2010. "Improving domestic economic fundamentals remain the key engine of growth. However, there were finally signs of external demand gaining traction in August, despite weakness across the euro area," said Markit senior economist Tim Moore. Construction spending rebounded sharply in July, jumped 1.8% after falling -0.9% in June. Ian Shepherdson said the report was strong everywhere but housing, and he expects this split to continue.
2. The manufacturing reports also follow a rash of manufacturing data out of Europe yesterday, when U.S. markets were closed for the holiday. The latest run of data shows that U.S. manufacturing is currently the strongest in the world, with France pulling up the rear.
3. Home Depot shares were the Dow's biggest loser, falling more than 2% after security blog Krebs on Security reported that the company may be the victim of a massive data breach involving customer credit cards. Krebs reported that a preliminary analysis showed the breach may include all 2,200 of the company's U.S. stores. In a statement to Business Insider, Home Depot spokesperson Paula Drake said: " At this point, I can confirm that we’re looking into some unusual activity and we are working with our banking partners and law enforcement to investigate."
4. Tesla shares were up more than 5% after Stifel Nicolaus upped its price target on the stock to $400, nearly 50% higher than the stock's pre-Labor Day price. Stifel's James Albertine said that production for the company's Model S has considerably increased from a year ago, but said ultimately momentum behind the stock may be enough to push it higher. "Tesla sentiment is like a freight train, in our view, benefiting from a well-manicured growth story that has caught the eye of a much broader investor base relative to most auto stocks," Albertine said.
5. Staples shares gained more than 8%, while Office Depot added more than 6% after Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter wrote that the two companies should consider merging. Balter said a combination between the two companies makes "significant" financial sense, and said the cash flow position of Staples makes this company an attractive target for an activist investor or private equity firm.
6. The IMF issued a report warning that its $17 billion lifeline to Ukraine might not be enough, with Ukraine potentially needing an additional $19 billion un finding by the end of next year.
7. After the iCloud accounts of more than 100 celebrities were hacked over the weekend, Apple issued a statement on Tuesday that said, "None of the cases we have investigation ahs resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud of Find my iPhone."
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