STOCKS GET SLAMMED INTO THE CLOSE: Here's what you need to know

Stocks tumbled in the final hour of trading, wiping out an early morning rally that took the Dow up as much as 170 points.

A decline in Apple shares weighed down the blue-chip Dow after the company held an event to unveil new products. And, the energy sector had the biggest drop on the S&P 500 as crude oil prices fell.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 16,253.97, -238.71, (-1.45%)
  • S&P 500: 1,942.09, -27.32, (-1.39%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,756.53, -55.40, (-1.15%)

And now, the top stories on Thursday:

  1. There have never been more job openings in America. The latest Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed that job openings surged to 5.75 million in July, the highest since the series began in December 2000. The quits rate — which reflects people who are comfortable leaving their jobs — was 1.9% for a fourth straight month. This is one of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s favourite labour market indicators. In a note to clients, Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson wrote: “The data in absolute terms, and relative to the level of unemployment and the population, now signal unambiguously that the labour market is unable to supply the people companies need.”
  2. Japanese stocks exploded. The benchmark Nikkei index closed up 7.7%, a 1,000-point gain on its biggest day in nearly seven years. The move higher came after prime minister Shinzo Abe won a new three-year term as his political party’s leader, and vowed to cut corporate taxes by at least 3.3 percentage points next year. Other Asian indexes closed higher; China’s Shanghai Composite gained 2%.
  3. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures in New York declined more than 3% to as low as $US44.11 per barrel. We got the Energy Information Administration’s updated short-term energy outlook. The EIA forecasts US oil production fell by 140,000 barrels in August month-over-month. It also noted that the current value of futures and options contracts that expire in December suggest the market expects oil prices anywhere between $US32 and $US73 per barrel in December.
  4. The Bank of Canada (BOC) left interest rates unchanged at 0.50%, matching expectations. It was the first policy announcement since we learned this month that Canada’s economy contracted in the first half of the year. BOC governor Stephen Poloz said the impact of lower oil prices continue to spill over into the broader economy, while strong household spending is supporting the economy.
  5. More experts have closed off the possibility of a rate hike in September. In a blog post, economist Larry Summers reiterated that the Fed risks a “catastrophic error” if it moves, with inflation so low. And in a client note, Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna changed his call for a September hike, given the recent market volatility.
  6. Jim Chanos’ latest short is a big bet for Carl Icahn. In an interview on CNBC, short-seller Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates said he was short shares of the natural-gas company Cheniere Energy. Carl Icahn disclosed a more than 8% stake in the company earlier this month. Chanos hinted he may have been borrowing shares to bet against while Icahn was acquiring stocks to own. Cheniere has not been profitable for two decades. Its stock fell 4% in trading.
  7. Apple’s stock fell 2% in late trading after the company unveiled a bunch of new devices. The company revealed the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, a giant tablet called the iPad Pro, and a new Apple TV.

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