Flat summer is a victory of sorts for market
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Stocks finish summer flat, and that's not so bad
The calendar says otherwise, but as a practical matter summer ends with Labor Day, and this one hasn't been so good for stocks—they're essentially unchanged since Memorial Day. But the glass-is-half-full view says that's pretty good, as the markets have digested all sorts of bad news without collapsing: tapering talk, crisis in Egypt and Syria, capital outflows from emerging markets, choppy earnings and poor corporate revenue growth. The list is long but, after all, the S&P 500 was up 15 percent before Memorial Day.
"Disappointed? Not me. ... Heck, I think being flat is a victory considering all the things markets have had to absorb."—CNBC's Bob Pisani
Syria 'fairly valued' by markets
The Syria crisis has been front and center this week. So, what does the market expect? By the end of the week, it looked like any retaliation over the regime's alleged chemical attacks would be moderate, not aimed at toppling the government or siding with any particular group of rebels. If this expectation is baked into the market, a bigger conflict could be a very negative surprise, and thus damaging to stocks.
"So Assad stays in place but he gets the message that these [chemical weapons] tactics aren't acceptable, and he's somewhat degraded in his ability to do it in the future. I think that's kind of what the market's expecting. No regional flare-up, no Iran involvement."—Alec Young, S&P Capital IQ global equity strategist
"A surgical strike that lasts just a couple of days as advertised would [keep] the safe-haven trades short-lived, and the markets would turn back to a Fed focus."—CNBC's Bob Pisani
Maybe bonds have legs after all
Have bond-market pessimists gone too far? Possibly. Everyone knows that rising interest rates push down bond prices as investors shun older bonds with stingy yields, and money has been pouring out of bond funds as yields have gone up. But although the typical investor is betting that yields will keep rising, some experts think they could fall. Reasons: the economy may not do as well as the market anticipates, inflation will remain tame and the Federal Reserve won't raise the Fed funds rate as quickly as many expect.
"Unlike 1994, there won't be rate hikes to reinforce the rise in interest rates. ... There won't be a rate hike until 2015 [at] the earliest, and we think 2016."—Tony Crecenzi, executive vice president at Pimco
Consumers tighten purse strings, inflation flat
Today's government data seemed to support the slow-growth view. Consumer spending ticked up a measly 0.1 percent in July, about a third what economists had expected. Prices rose 0.1 percent, compared to 0.4 percent in June, leaving inflation for the past year at only 1.4 percent. Wages were virtually flat.
"A big disappointment, I would say, on wages and salaries."—CNBC's Steve Liesman
You talkin' ta me?
You wanna talk to us, you gotta pay! That's the new policy from some banks—a fee for talking to a teller. In December, PNC will charge $7 a month for the privilege of talking to a teller, while Capital One has a type of account that's free but forbids in-person banking altogether. If the ATM is down, Capital One says to mail in your deposit. Scary for folks who want to deposit actual greenbacks.
"Banks have been rolling out services where you don't incur a monthly fee so long as you do all your banking by mobile, by web or by ATM. Visiting a branch, though, that will cost you."—CNBC's Kayla Tausche