Top Stock Stories For Wednesday

Stocks opened in positive territory as the market extended its rally from the past few days. There was little reaction to the day's economic reports which included data on housing and energy as investors looked toward the afternoon's release of the Fed's minutes from last month's FOMC meeting. The minutes showed Fed participants were clearly concerned about the lower pace of inflation but concluded it was most likely transitory.

The day's activity was overshadowed by the coverage of the fallout from the president's statements about the Charlottesville protests. Oil prices closed more than 1.5% lower despite a larger than expected draw in inventory. The price of crude is now below $47 a barrel.

ECONOMIC NEWS: In the U.S., the MBA mortgage market index rose 0.1% in data released earlier, along with a 1.5% drop in the purchase index and a 1.6% rise in the refinancing index for the week ended August 11. U.S. housing starts dropped 4.8% in July to a 1.155M clip, weaker than forecast, after climbing 7.4% to 1.213M in June, which was revised from 1.215M. Single family starts dropped 4.8%, while multifamily starts dipped 0.5%. In energy news, API reported yesterday that crude inventories for the week of August 11 fell 9.2M barrels. In Fed news, minutes from the last FOMC meeting showed definite concerns over inflation, with the Fed saying that inflation might remain below 2% for longer than expected.

COMPANY NEWS: Following a litany of top executives announcing their departure from President Donald Trump's Manufacturing Council and Strategic & Policy Forum, the President tweeted that he would be ending both the Council and the Forum. The tweet came after CNBC reported that the Strategic & Policy Forum had agreed to disband, and CNBC's Berth Coombs noted that CEOs in the Forum said Trump's press conference yesterday was the "tripwire" and "point of no return." In the midst of all this, multiple members from both the Council and the Forum provided statements on their decisions to leave such councils following Trump's controversial remarks on the white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville over the weekend, including JPMorgan CEO (JPM) Jamie Dimon, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) CEO Alex Gorsky, Campbell Soup (CPB) CEO Denise Morrison, United Technologies (UTX) CEO Gregory Hayes, BlackRock (BLK) CEO Larry Fink, and 3M (MMM) CEO Inge Thulin. Other companies who had top executives on such councils include Blackstone (BX), Intel (INTC), Under Armour (UAA, UA), Merck (MRK), and IBM (IBM)... Meanwhile, shares of Target (TGT) rose 3.7% after the retail giant reported better than expected quarterly results, provided an upbeat guidance for the third quarter, and raised its adjusted earnings per share guidance for the fiscal year. Despite the earnings beat, chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said on the company's earnings conference call that the retail environment is "choppy" and will continue to be "challenging"... Additionally, Apple (AAPL) shares were in focus after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company has allocated $1B to create and acquire original content over the next year.

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