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Stocks seek to salvage September

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were lower this morning, with three trading days left in September to make a dent in the 2 percent drop for the S&P 500. Avoiding a government shutdown and Friday's monthly employment report are major themes this week. (CNBC)

Danger ahead—that's the warning from Carl Icahn in a video coming tomorrow. The activist says low rates caused bubbles in art, real estate and high-yield bonds—with potentially dramatic consequences. (CNBC)

Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) and The Williams Companies (WMB) today announced a business combination valued at approximately $37.7 billion, including the assumption of debt and other liabilities.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) is ending exploration in the Arctic waters off Alaska after failing to discover a sufficient amount of crude. The oil giant may take a charge of up to $4.1 billion as a result. (FT)

Alcoa (AA) today said it would split into two publicly-traded entities, acknowledging its legacy aluminum operations and higher-value auto businesses were diverging and no longer compatible. (Reuters)

Volkswagen's luxury brand, Audi, today said that 2.1 million of its cars globally have been affected by the emissions scandal that's engulfed the German car manufacturer's parent. Meanwhile, German prosecutors reportedly started an investigation into former VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn on allegations of fraud. (CNBC)

President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin will meet today at the UN, and each will address the General Assembly, a day after Moscow agreed with Iraq, Syria, and Iran to share intelligence in the fight against the Islamic State terror group. (NY Times)

President Obama will hold a formal meeting tomorrow at the UN with Cuban leader Raul Castro, their second face-to-face since the U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic relations late last year. (AP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the UN today, after drawing fire from Hillary Clinton. In a tweet, the Democrat presidential candidate called Xi "shameless" for presiding over a UN gender equality conference, given his country's track record on women's rights. (AP)

GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump previewed his tax plan, set to be unveiled today, in a wide-ranging interview on "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday, promising reductions for the middle-class and hikes for some of the very wealthy. (USA Today)

Trump and Ben Carson are running neck and neck in the Republican race, with Carly Fiorina now tied for third place with Marco Rubio, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. On the Democratic side,Clinton has lost ground to Bernie Sanders. (NBC News)

Fiorina got a scare when a large curtain fell across the stage, rod and all, in San Antonio, Texas Sunday. No one was hurt. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO was addressing women business owners. (USA Today)

House Speaker John Boehner Sunday slammed hard-line conservatives as "false prophets" who are merely "spreading noise." Boehner surprisingly announced Friday plans to step down at the end of October. (NBC News)

Richard Rainwater—a high-rolling Texas billionaire with a Midas touch for real estate, entertainment, and oil—died Sunday at 71. He owned a piece of the Texas Rangers baseball team with George W. Bush. (NY Times)

BY THE NUMBERS

Asian stocks were mixed today, after Chinese industrial profits declined 8.8 percent on year in August, their sharpest drop since 2011, adding to concerns about the world's second-largest economy.

Oil prices fell sharply this morning, paring the bulk of last week's 2 percent rally, despite evidence of slowing U.S. production and a fourth weekly increase in U.S. investor holdings of crude futures.

This week's U.S. economic calendar features August personal income and spending at 8:30 a.m. ET this morning and August pending home sales at 10 a.m. ET.

It's a busy day for Fed speakers, with public appearances today by Fed Gov. Daniel Tarullo, New York Fed President William Dudley, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, and San Francisco Fed President John Williams.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Facebook (FB) introduced new ad products aimed at television advertisers, ahead of New York City's Advertising Week event. The social network also said it now has 2.5 million active advertisers.

Google-owned YouTube appears to be finalizing plans for its long-in-the-making subscription model: two services, music and videos with no ads, for $10 a month, according to Re/code.

Comcast (CMCSA), parent of CNBC, will buy a 51 percent stake in Japan theme park operator USJ for $1.5 billion. USJ is the operator of Universal Studios Japan.

Mobile phone giant Vodafone (VOD) pulled out of asset exchange talks with Liberty Global (LBTYA). The two sides could not agree price.

Sprint (S) will not participate in a scheduled auction of government airwaves set for early 2016, saying it has adequate spectrum for its future needs.

"Hotel Transylvania 2" from Sony Pictures easily topped the domestic weekend box office, with $47.5 million in ticket sales, marking the biggest September debut ever.

WATERCOOLER

Denver Broncos Peyton Manning is not the gunslinger he once was, but in last night's 24-12 win over the Detroit Lions he proved he can still be an effective quarterback. (NBC Sports)

Jordan Spieth Sunday won The Tour Championship and the FedExCup, capping the richest season in golf history in addition to his two major tournament wins. (USA Today)