STOCKS GO NOWHERE: Here's what you need to know

Stocks closed little changed on Tuesday after trading in a tight range for most of the session, with no major earnings announcements or economic data releases.

A 3% drop in Apple shares, after Credit Suisse analysts wrote to clients that iPhone 6S demand was weak, weighed down the Dow.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 17,751.96, +21.48, (0.12%)
  • S&P 500: 2,081.29, +2.71, (0.13%)
  • Nasdaq: 5,082.40, -12.90, (-0.25%)

And now, the top stories on Tuesday:

  1. Everything small businesses are saying continues to point to higher wages. The National Federation of Independent Businesses’ latest survey showed that 21% of firms reported an increase in compensation in October, down from 23% prior, but continuing the uptrend. The remaining details in the survey were broadly unchanged, and suggested low levels of slack, according to Barclays economists.
  2. Valeant shares dropped by as much as 7% after the company held a second investor conference call. The company announced that, after ending its relationship with Philidor, the specialty pharmacy will shut down January 30. Valeant said the controversy around its billing practices has harmed business in Canada, but it postponed giving any guidance until the investor day in December.
  3. Citron Research’s Andrew Left was back on TV. The author of the report that contained the Philidor allegations told CNBC that he had “significantly” reduced his short position in Valeant. In a report last week, he said his work with Valeant was done; Tuesday’s interview focused on Mallinckrodt, the pharmaceutical that Left said had significantly more downside than Valeant.
  4. We got two important crude oil forecasts. First, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected that oil would not climb back to $US80 per barrel until 2020. IEA executive director Fatih Birol told the FT that persistent supply and weak demand would keep prices low. And then, the Energy Information Administration’s latest short-term energy outlook raised the 2015 forecast for West Texas Intermediate crude prices to $US49.88 per barrel from $US49.53. It lowered the 2016 estimate to $US51.31 from $US53.57.
  5. McDonald’s investor meeting came with news that the company was not pursuing a REIT structure. A real estate investment trust would allow the company to control its real estate while paying out a dividend based on those assets income and value appreciation. Shares were halted before this announcement. McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook also said the company planned to increase returns to shareholders by $US10 billion to $US30 billion in the three-year period ending 2016.
  6. SunEdison shares slumped by nearly 23% in trading after the company reported a lower-than-expected loss. It lost $US0.92 in the third quarter, excluding some items, and more than the $US0.65 estimated. Revenues of $US476 million beat the forecast. SunEdison last month announced plans to layoff 15% of staff as it cut costs. In July, David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital hedge fund reported its worst monthly performance since October 2008 due to losses from its SunEdison stake. The shares are down 71% year-to-date.

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