STOCKS RISE: Here's what you need to know

Stocks bounced around today to close modestly higher. More economic data showed that the labour market remains in good shape.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 16,313.23, +59.66, (0.37%)
  • S&P 500: 1,950.26, +8.22, (0.42%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,789.23, +32.70, (0.69%)

And now, the top stories on Thursday:

  1. The Federal Reserve’s interest rate announcement is now less than one week away, and we got more mixed forecasts for what exactly they will do. On his part, Societe Generale’s Albert Edwards thinks the Fed should hike next week. That’s kind of surprising, given that Edwards has warned for months that a deflationary threat lurks for the global economy, and, in theory, a rate hike is an effort to fight inflation. Edwards wrote in a client note that the risks of not delaying rate hike — including increasing financial market excesses — are more than those of waiting.
  2. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank’s chief US economist Joe LaVorgna followed up his call for a delay yesterday with a note on what must actually happen for the Fed to move in October. “Most importantly, the financial markets have to be discounting a reasonably high probability of an interest rate hike,” he wrote to clients. Fed fund futures were pricing only a 28% chance of a hike this month, down from 30% yesterday.
  3. The last piece of labour-market data before the Fed meeting was once again upbeat. Initial jobless claims fell last week to 275,000, in line with expectations, while last week’s print was revised down by 1,000 to 281,000. That’s six straight months of claims for unemployment insurance running below 300,000.
  4. Lululemon shares collapsed 17%. The maker of yoga pants reported earnings and revenues that beat analysts’ estimates. But gross margins fell to 46.8% from 50.5% a year ago, and the company’s third-quarter guidance for earnings and sales missed expectations. The stock has rallied 38% in the past 12 months.
  5. Avon’s stock had a wild ride, spiking more than 11% and then tanking 7%, with two trading halts in tow. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the beauty-products company is in talks to sell a stake to private equity firms. It is reportedly taking bids for a private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from firms including Platinum Equity and Cerberus Capital Management.
  6. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures in New York rallied more than 3% to as high as $US46.04 per share. Energy Information Administration data showed that demand for gasoline rose 4% year-over-year in the past month. And last week, crude inventories rose by a more-than-expected 2.57 million barrels.

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