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'Very difficult' for China's economy to maintain 6% growth: report

40 min ago

China's Premier Li Keqiang said it will be "very difficult" for the country's economy to grow at an annual rate of 6% or more in the current global climate, Reuters reported Sunday. "For China to maintain growth of 6% or more is very difficult against the current backdrop of a complicated international situation and a relatively high base, and this rate is at the forefront of the world's leading economies," Li said in an interview with Russian media that was posted on China's official government website. China is aiming for GDP growth this year of 6% to 6.5%. In the second quarter, GDP rose 6.2%, its slowest rate in 27 years. Li said the global slowdown and trade protectionism contributed to "certain downward pressure" felt by China's economy.

Boeing committee set to recommend safety changes: report

3 hours ago

Boeing Co.'s full board of directors is expected to hear a report this week detailing structural corporate changes that can be made to improve the safety of its planes following two fatal crashes of its 737 Max planes, the New York Times reported Sunday. The recommended changes from a small committee of board members include a new corporate reporting structure, creating a new safety group and building simpler cockpits, the Times said. Under one proposed change, engineers would reportedly report directly to the company's head engineer, rather than a business-unit leader who might favor production deadlines over fixing problems. Boeing reported a sharp dropoff in monthly aircraft production last week as the 737 Max remains grounded. Boeing shares are up 18% year to date, compared to the S&P 500's 20% gain.

Crude prices spike after attack on Saudi oil facilities

4 hours ago

Brent crude prices shot up late Sunday following Saturday's attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. November Brent crude was last up more than $7 a barrel, or 12%, to $67.41, after initially spiking as much as 18%. The attacks shut down about half of Saudi oil production, and while the kingdom said that it expects to have aboutone-third of that back online by Monday, experts said it could take weeks to get back to full capacity. Prominent crude-oil strategist Phil Flynn at Price Futures Group told MarketWatch earlier on Sunday that the drone strike was a "big deal" that could result in a major spike in crude-oil prices, because of the potential disruption to global supplies.

Disney CEO Iger resigns from Apple board


Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger has resigned from the board of Apple Inc. , the Silicon Valley company said in a filing late Friday. Iger resigned on Tuesday, according to the filing, which contained no other information. Earlier this week, Apple revealed that it would charge $4.99 a month for its previously announced streaming service, set to launch Nov. 1, undercutting Disney as well as Netflix Inc.'s streaming businesses. Iger had joined the Apple board in 2011, according to Disney's website. Other Apple board members include Chief Executive Tim Cook, former Genentech Chief Executive Arthur Levinson, who is the board's chairman, and former Vice President Al Gore. Shares of Apple and Disney were flat in the extended session Friday after ending the regular trading day down 1.9% and 0.4% higher.

MoviePass-parent Helios & Matheson is set to shut down permanently on Saturday


MoviePass Inc.'s parent Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc. is set to close its business permanently on Saturday and is considering a sale of its assets, including its Moviefone and MoviePass Films business. Attempts to revive the embattled subscription-movie service have apparently failed, with the company on July 4 announcing that its service would be temporarily interrupted in order to work on an "improved version" of its mobile app Inc. The decision was a bad omen as it came during the busiest time for the movie business. In March, Helios & Matheson raised some $6 million in financing to support MoviePass, including its technology. The once-highflying company had lost nearly all of its value over the past year. Shares of HMNY, a reference to the company's trading symbol, are down 89% so far in the 2019, according to FactSet data. By comparison, the S&P 500 index is up nearly 20% so far this year and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 16.7% over the same period. HMNY acquired MoviePass in 2017, a service with just 20,000 subscribers at the time. The operator cut MoviePass's monthly fee to $9.95 from up to $50 a month, and its subscriber base ballooned, crossing the 3-million mark in June of 2018, MarketWatch reported last year. However, the burden of delivering cheap movies proved challenging for the company.

Stocks end mostly lower as Dow extends eight-day streak of gains


U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Friday after easing trade tensions and central bank policy moves briefly buoyed investor sentiment earlier in the day. The S&P 500 was down less than 0.1% to end near 3,007. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 36 points, or 0.1%, to finish around 27,219, based on preliminary numbers.The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.2% to end near 8,177. The blue-chip Dow clinched its eighth consecutive gain, its longest such streak since 2018. Both the Dow and the S&P remain less than a percentage point away from their all-time highs set in July. Retail sales rose faster than expected in August, increasing by 0.4%. Investors also saw signs that Washington and Beijing were moving towards a more constructive stance on trade negotiations. The European Central Bank announced a full stimulus package on Thursday, including rate cuts and the restart of an open-ended bond purchasing program.

'Desperate Housewives' Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in jail, fined $30K for role in college-admissions scandal: reports


Actress Felicity Huffman on Friday was sentenced to 14 days in jail and fined $30,000 for her involvement in the college-admissions cheating scheme, according to reports. Huffman, best known for her role in the TV series "Desperate Housewives," pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay $15,000 to a fake charity that facilitated cheating when her daughter took college entrance examinations. The Wall Street Journal reported that Huffman's two-week stint in jail was about half of what prosecutors were seeking. Huffman also was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and a year of supervised release, the paper reported on its website.

Lumber Liquidator's stock tumbles, after former CEO sells stock as potential buyout is now 'less prudent'


Shares of Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. tumbled 12% in active afternoon trading, and have now plunged 24% in three sessions since closing at 4-month high on Tuesday. Trading volume was 6.4 million shares, compared with the full-day average of 2.2 million shares. The selloff in the wood-flooring company's stock comes after founder and former CEO Thomas Sullivan and F9 Investments LLC disclosed that it now owned 461,895 Lumber Liquidator shares, or 1.6% of the shares outstanding, indicating Sullivan and F9 sold off 1.75 million shares in the past week, representing 6.1% of the shares outstanding, after Sullivan and F9 disclosed it had accumulated a 2,212,367-share stake, or 7.7% of the shares outstanding, in the weeks leading up to Sept. 5. Sullivan, currently the CEO of Cabinets to Go, said the reason for acquiring the large stake was to "explore various options and propose a transaction," including a potential purchase of Lumber Liquidators. On Friday, Sullivan said he sold the bulk of his holdings because after the recent "significant" rally, the stock was "no longer undervalued," making a potential acquisition "less prudent at these elevated levels." Since Aug. 20, when Sullivan first disclosed it acquired a 6.0% stake, through Sept. 5, the stock had soared 55%. The stock is now up 4.5% year to date, while the S&P 500 has run up 20.0%.

Cowen is bullish marijuana companies with CPG model, bearish on MedMen given retail reliance


Cowen analyst Vivien Azer initiated coverage Friday of five multi-state cannabis operators, saying she's bullish on those that rely on the consumer packaged goods model given the higher margins, especially relative to those relying on the retail model. Azer started Green Thumb Industries Inc. at outperform with a stock price target of $18.50, Curaleaf Holdings Inc. at outperform with a $10.50 target, and Cresco Labs Inc. at outperform with a $14 target. "We believe that the greatest shareholder value will be created through businesses that emulate a traditional CPG finished goods model, given its superior margin structure," Azer wrote in a note to clients. Meanwhile, Azer started MedMen Enterprises Inc. at underperform with a $1.50 price target. "[MedMen] is the clear leader in the [California] market, with a distinguished brand, reflecting an attractive retail concept," Azer wrote. "However, to us, retail is less attractive than wholesale. And, an over-reliance on retail revenues today, coupled with excessive spending and notable management turnover, make this a'show-me' story." Azer also started Acreage Holdings Inc. at market perform with a $9 target, saying consolidation a of a "disparate network of dispensaries" and launching a "nascent brand strategy" could prove challenging. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF was up 0.4% in afternoon trading, but has lost 28.7% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 has gained 3.5% in three months.

Gold futures settle below $1,500 an ounce, down 1.1% for the week


Gold futures fell on Friday, posting a loss of 1.1% for the week, as strength in U.S. bond yields dulled appetite for the haven metal, ahead of the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates next week. December gold lost $7.90, or 0.5%, to settle at $1,499.50 on Comex.

Oil pares losses after Baker Hughes reports a 4th straight weekly decline in the U.S. oil-rig count


Baker Hughes on Friday reported that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil declined by five to 733 this week. That followed three consecutive weekly declines in the oil-rig count. The total active U.S. rig count, meanwhile, also fell by 12 to 886, according to Baker Hughes. October West Texas Intermediate crude was down 8 cents, or 0.2%, at $55.01 a barrel. It was trading lower for the session at $54.96 before the rig data.

Nasdaq Composite's decline belies bullish exchange breadth data


The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.2% in midday trading, but a quick glance at market internals would suggest the index would be rallying. The number of stocks gaining ground on the Nasdaq exchange outnumbered decliners 1,726 to 1,118, while volume in advancing stocks represented 57.8% of total volume. Keep in mind the Nasdaq Composite is market-capitalization weighted, and shares of the three most valuable companies by market cap are all losing ground. Microsoft Corp.'s market cap is $1.05 trillion and the stock is down 0.1%; Apple Inc.'s market cap is $981.4 billion with the stock shedding 2.7%; and Inc. shares are down 0.3% to lower the market cap to $909.1 billion.

Cloudflare's stock surges at open, with first trade 20% above IPO price


Shares of Cloudflare Inc. debuted with some flair Friday, as they opened 20% above the initial public offering price. The first trade for the cloud-based network platform company's stock was $19 at 11:48 a.m. Eastern for 5.5 million shares. The stock has since extended its gains, to be 24% above the IPO price in recent trading. The IPO priced late Thursday at $15, above the expected pricing range of $12 to $14, which was raised earlier in the week from $10 to $12. The upbeat open for the Cloudflare's stock contrasts with SmileDirectClub Inc.'s debut on Thursday, as the teeth-straitening company's stock closed at Thursday at $16.67, or 27.5% below the $23 IPO price, which also priced above its expected range. The company's have gone public at a time that the Renaissance IPO ETF has lost 2.9% over the past three months while the S&P 500 has gained 4.2%.

Old Navy's plan to nearly double the number of stores is both a growth opportunity and a challenge, analysts say


During the Gap Inc. investor meeting on Thursday Sonia Syngal, Old Navy's chief executive, said the brand has plans to nearly double the number of stores in its North American fleet to 2,000, focused mostly on smaller markets. Old Navy will spin off from Gap Inc. and operate as a standalone company. Syngal said, as a standalone, Old Navy will take steps to become a $10 billion brand. "We see ample growth opportunity at Old Navy, but it's not based on future independence," wrote MKM Partners' Roxanne Meyer in a note. "We see growth opportunities from store expansion (plans to nearly double the store fleet, with growth in smaller markets), new categories and larger sizes." MKM is taking a "wait-and-see" approach to the spinoff, maintaining its neutral rating for Gap stock and $18 fair value estimate. "[W]e do have worries that apparel, and especially the important women's apparel segments at both Gap and Old Navy are simply structurally tough categories," wrote Cowen analysts, in a note. "Women's apparel could be prone to multiple years of unforeseen, but likely, promotional risk." Cowen rates Gap stock market perform with a $22 price target. Gap stock has taken a 31% tumble over the past year while the S&P 500 index has gained 3.7% for the period.

Choice Hotels adds shares to its repurchase program


Choice Hotels International Inc. said Friday that it will add 2.3 million shares to what remains of its share repurchase program. In total, the program will include four million shares to repurchase. Choice Hotels also announced a dividend of $0.215 per share, paying on October 17, 2019 to stockholders of record as of October 2, 2019. Choice Hotels stock has rallied 32.1% for the year to date while the S&P 500 index is up 20.3% for the period.

Beyond Meat replaces grilled steak on the Just Salad menu


Just Salad, a New York City-based fast-casual chain, has added Beyond Meat to its menu, replacing grilled steak with Beyond Beef Meatballs. The plant-based alternative will be a feature of the Keto Zoodle Bowl, made with zucchini noodles, grape tomatoes and roasted balsamic mushrooms. Just Salad has a "Green Standard" sustainability initiative that aims to send zero waste to landfills by 2025 and save 100,000 pounds of plastic this year through the use of reusable bowls. Just Salad highlights data showing that beef is one of the least sustainable meat products. "The future of food is plant-based," said Janani Lee, Just Salad's chief sustainability officer. Beyond Meat has been introduced to a number of quick service and fast casual menus recently, including Dunkin' Brands Inc. and Uno Pizzeria. Beyond Meat stock has gained 9.6% over the last three months while the S&P 500 index is up 20.3% for the period.

Bank stocks rise again, with J.P. Morgan's stock headed for 8th-straight gain to record close


Bank stocks rallied Friday, with the sector set to post gains every day this week, boosted by the continued rise in Treasury yields. The SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF rose 0.7%, and has rallied 3.8% amid a 5-day win streak, and the SPDR S&P Bank ETF climbed 0.8% and has run up 7.4% this week. Among the more active bank stocks, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s surged 1.2% toward a record high; the stock has shot up 9.9% amid an 8-day win streak. Elsewhere, shares of Bank of America Corp. rose 1.3% toward a 5th straight gain, Citigroup Inc. hiked up 1.5% and Wells Fargo & Co advanced 0.9%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose 6.3 basis points toward a six-week high of 1.854% after upbeat data on retail sales. A rise in Treasury yields can help boost bank profits, as it can increase the spread what banks earn on longer-term assets that are funded with shorter-term liabilities. The financial ETF has gained 4.8% over the past three months and the S&P bank ETF has tacked on 4.0%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has advanced 4.3%.

Hong Kong exchange says it wants to present rejected bid to LSE shareholders


Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited said shareholders of the London Stock Exchange , "should have the opportunity to analyse in detail both transactions and will continue to engage with them," an indication it may go hostile with its nearly $37 billion bid. The LSE earlier on Friday rejected the offer and said it wasn't interested in talks. "The Board of HKEX had hoped to enter into a constructive dialogue with the Board of LSEG to discuss in detail the merits of its proposal and are disappointed that LSEG has declined to properly engage. In particular, HKEX had hoped to demonstrate why it believes that the benefits of its proposal significantly outweigh those of the proposed acquisition of Refinitiv," the exchange said.

Aimmune's stock halted as FDA panel's decision awaited on peanut allergy treatment


Aimmune Therapeutics Inc.'s stock has been halted for news Friday, as the Food and Drug Administration's Allergenic Products Advisory Committee (APAC) is meeting about the efficacy and safety data of the biopharmaceutical company's treatment for peanut allergies, Palforzia. APAC is discussing whether the data supports licensure of Palforzia as a treatment to reduce the incidence and severity of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, after accidental exposure to peanuts in patients 4 through 17 years of age. The meeting had been scheduled from 8:30 a.m. Eastern to 4:30 p.m. Aimmune's stock had gained 25% this week through Thursday, and has advanced 3.1% year to date, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF has climbed 8.6% this year and the S&P 500 has run up 20.3%.

U.S. business inventories climb 0.4% in July


WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Business inventories in the U.S. rose 0.4% in July after no change in the prior month, the Commerce Department said Friday. Sales rose 0.3% in the month. The ratio of inventories to sales, meanwhile, was flat at 1.40. That's how many months it would take to sell all the inventory on hand. One year ago, the inventory-to-sales ratio was 1.35. An increase in inventories adds to gross domestic product while a decrease subtracts from it.

Apple's stock drops to pull market cap back below the trillion-dollar level


Shares of Apple Inc. dropped 1.1% in morning trading, enough to pull the technology behemoth's market capitalization back below the trillion-dollar threshold. Apple closed with a market cap above $1 trillion the past two sessions--at $1.013 trillion on Wednesday and at $1.008 trillion on Thursday--the first back-to-back closes above the trillion-dollar threshold since Nov. 1. Apple's stock has to close at or above $221.28 to maintain the $1 trillion market cap level. It is currently at $996.9 billion, below first-place Microsoft Corp. at $1.050 trillion. Microsoft's market cap has been above $1 trillion every day since June 7. The recent gains comes in the wake of Apple's iPhone launch event on Tuesday, with pre-orders for the new iPhone 11 now available. Apple's stock has climbed 13.6% over the past three months and Microsoft shares have tacked on 3.9%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 4.4%.

Stocks open mostly higher as S&P 500, Dow near all-time highs


U.S. stocks opened mostly higher on Friday, pushing the Dow and the S&P 500 closer to their all-time highs, as investors were buoyed by a combination of positive consumer data, receding U.S.-China trade tensions and a boost from easing central banks. The S&P 500 was up less than 0.1% to 3,011. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 50 points, or 0.2%, to around 27,233. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.1% to 8,187. The Commerce Department reported retail sales rose 0.4% in August, much higher than the 0.1% growth expected by economists. Trade tensions also appeared to wane after Beijing agreed to exempt U.S. agricultural goods from tariffs. In company news, shares of Broadcom Inc. fell 0.9% after the chip maker's outlook for annual revenues disappointed.

PG&E's stock surges after $11 billion settlement of wildfire claims


Shares of PG&E Corp. shot up 11% in premarket trading Friday, after the San Francisco-based utility said it has reached an agreement "in principle" with 85% of insurance claims to an $11 billion settlement relating to the 2017 and 2018 wildfires. The settlement will be implemented pursuant to PG&E's Chapter 11 plan of reorganization. The company affirmed the total $14 billion equity financing commitment target for the reorganization plan. "Today's settlement is another step in doing what's right for the communities, businesses, and individuals affected by the devastating wildfires," said Chief Executive Bill Johnson. The settlement follows the $1 billion settlement reached in June with a number of local public entities. The stock has tumbled 57.5% year to date through Thursday, while the Dow Jones Utility Average has climbed 19.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 16.5%.

Etsy's stock jumps after Wedbush analyst turns bullish, bumps up price target


Shares of Etsy Inc. jumped 4.1% in premarket trading Friday, after Wedbush analyst Ygal Arounian turned bullish on the online crafts marketplace, citing a "critical mass" of new initiatives that is expected to drive growth and expand margins. Arounian raised the rating to outperform from neutral, and bumped the price target to $66 from $64, amid optimism over the outlook for Etsy Ads and free-shipping offering. "We particularly like the timing with both Etsy Ads and free shipping launching into the holiday season supported by Etsy's brand marketing push, where it is seeing early signs of strong [return on investment] on TV and social," Arounian wrote in a note to clients. The stock has tumbled 21.7% over the past three months through Thursday, while the Amplify Online Retail ETF has gained 5.4% and the S&P 500 has tacked on 4.1%.

Weight Watchers to change legal name to WW later this month


Weight Watchers International Inc. said Friday it will change its legal name to WW International Inc., effective Sept. 29, following the rebranding to WW last year. The wellness company's stock ticker had already changed in April to "WW" from "WTW." The stock, which is still inactive in premarket trading, has soared 64.3% over the past three months while the S&P 500 has gained 4.1%.

Biogen's stock falls after co. and Eisai to discontinue late-stage trial of Alzheimer's treatment


Shares of Biogen Inc. fell 1.6% in premarket trading Friday, after the the biotechnology company and Tokyo-based Eisai Co. Ltd. said they will discontinue the phase 3 trial of an Alzheimer's disease (AD) treatment, citing data showing an unfavorable risk-benefit ratio. The decision was made after the Data Safety Monitoring Board's recommendation to discontinue the trials. The trial on the investigational oral beta amyloid cleaving enyzme (BACE) inhibitor elenbecestat in patients with early AD. The companies said as part of the decision to discontinue the phase 3 trial, the long-term extension of the phase 2 trial of elenbecestat will also be discontinued. Biogen's stock has dropped 22.8% year to date through Thursday and the U.S.-listed shares of Eisai have tumbled 34.6%, while the S&P 500 has gained 20.1%.

LSE rejects Hong Kong bid and says it doesn't want to hold merger talks


The London Stock Exchange on Friday rejected the preliminary, 29.6 billion pound ($37 billion) takeover bid from the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and said it didn't want to engage in talks. "The Board has fundamental concerns about the key aspects of the Conditional Proposal: strategy, deliverability, form of consideration and value. Accordingly, the Board unanimously rejects the Conditional Proposal and, given its fundamental flaws, sees no merit in further engagement," the LSE said. LSE shares were last up 1.3% at 7344 pence.

Catalyst Pharmaceuticals stock jumps after stock offering is pulled


Shares of Catalyst Pharmaceuticals Inc. jumped 10% in premarket trading Friday, after the biopharmaceutical said it decided to pull its common stock offering. The company said it decided that completing an offering at current market prices "is not in the best interest of the company and its stock holders." After the stock closed at a record $7.43 on Wednesday, the company said it would sell 8 million shares to the public, which would increase the shares outstanding by 7.8%. After the announcement, the stock tumbled 17.5% on Thursday. The stock has more than tripled year to date (up 219.3%) through Thursday, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF has gained 8.0% and the S&P 500 has advanced 20.1%.

We Co. picks Nasdaq for IPO as it unveils corporate-governance changes


In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, The We Co. said it has picked the Nasdaq as the stock exchange it will list on as it detailed a number of corporate-governance changes. The filing said it will name a lead independent director by the end of the year, the high-vote stock will decrease from 20 votes per share to 10 votes per share, and that no family member of CEO Adam Neumann will sit on the board. We and its advisers are targeting a valuation that could slip below $20 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.

China to exclude soybeans, pork from tariffs: report


China's Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council will exclude some agricultural products including soybeans and pork from the additional tariffs on U.S. goods, The People's Daily said in a tweet, citing official sources.