Stocks finished mixed as investors continue to wait for key upcoming central bank meetings. While the major averages saw small moves, the quiet headline levels obscure some more significant rotation occurring below the surface. Areas of the market, such as tech, that have been the year's best performers have become the laggards in the last two sessions while underperforming sectors, such as energy, have been the leaders.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the NFIB small business optimism index fell 1.5% to 103.1 in August. The JOLTS report showed job openings declined 31,000 to 7.217M in July. In trade news, the South China Morning Post's Wendy Wu reported that China is expected to agree to purchase more American agricultural goods in hopes of reaching a more favorable trade agreement with Washington next month.
In White House news, U.S. President Donald Trump said via Twitter that John Bolton was asked to resign as National Security Advisor. Bolton, however, said on Twitter that he offered to resign yesterday, but the president pushed the resignation to today.
In China, the Consumer Prices Index rose 2.8% in August, while the Producer Prices Index was down 0.8%.
TOP NEWS: Apple (AAPL) shares were in focus amid the tech giant's special event, where it unveiled new products and provided updates on previously announced products and services. Most of the attention has been given to the iPhone 11, Apple's latest smartphone with a dual-camera system and increased battery life, which will be available for pre-order starting this Friday and will be in stores on September 20, starting at $699. The larger, more powerful and more expensive iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, with a new triple-camera system, were also made public for the first time. The company also unveiled the Apple Watch Series 5, as well as the seventh generation of iPad, and said that Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade will each be priced at $4.99 per month.
Shares of Ford (F) fell 1.4% after Moody's downgraded the company's senior unsecured debt rating to Ba1 from Baa3, putting it in high yield "junk" status. Commenting on the announcement, analysts at Credit Suisse and Bank of America Merrill Lynch agreed that the downgrade does not change the Ford story or credit costs for now, though BofA's expert argued that Moody's move could be a harbinger of future downgrades for the company and even for the broader automotive value chain.
Meanwhile, Uber (UBER) was in focus after TechCrunch reported that the company has laid off 435 employees across its product and engineering teams.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Mallinckrodt (MNK), which jumped 84.8% after the company announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary BioVectra to an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital for approximately $250M. Also higher was Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (AUPH), which gained 12.8% after Oppenheimer analyst Justin Kim initiated the stock with an Outperform rating.
Among the notable losers was Wendy's (WEN), which slipped 10.2% after the company announced plans to launch a breakfast menu nationwide in 2020 and cut its FY19 guidance due to related costs. Also lower was HD Supply (HDS), which fell 4.2% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow rose 73.92, or 0.28%, to 26,909.43, the Nasdaq slipped 3.28, or 0.04%, to 8,084.16, and the S&P 500 added 0.96, or 0.03%, to 2,979.39.