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New month, green arrows—Wall Street hopes Sept bucks history

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were starting off September higher, after a weak Wednesday put the Dow and S&P 500 into negative territory for August. The Nasdaq was able to hold on to a nearly 1 percent gain last month. September has been historically a tough month. (CNBC)

Asian stocks were mixed overnight, as the official measure of factory activity in China expanded at its fastest pace in nearly two years in August. However, analysts cautioned the world's second-largest economy wasn't out of the woods yet. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were steady this morning, after falling about 3.5 percent to under $45 per barrel on the final day of August. But West Texas Intermediate crude still managed a nearly 7.5 percent monthly advance, breaking a two month losing streak. (Reuters)

With renewed bluster, Donald Trump offered some clarity on his immigration policies in a speech last night from Arizona, renewing calls for a deportation force and pledging to build an "impenetrable" wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. (CNBC)

Earlier Wednesday, Trump met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico. Trump said the two did not discuss payment for the wall. But Pena Nieto later tweeted he told Trump that Mexico would not pay. (CNBC)

Millions of Americans were bracing for Tropical Storm Hermine, threatening a storm surge of up to 9 feet in Florida as well as dangerous rip currents along the East Coast. Parts of Georgia and the Carolinas could see up to 7 inches of rainfall as the storm moved north. (NBC News)

Almost $7 billion was wiped off Samsung's market value today, after the smartphone giant delayed shipments of its Galaxy Note 7, amid reports of exploding batteries. Samsung is looking to keep pace with Apple (AAPL), which is set to unveil new iPhones next week. (Reuters)

As Apple grapples with falling iPhone sales, the company has told its suppliers to accept price cuts on parts destined for the next-generation iPhone while cutting forecasts for order volume. Meanwhile, carriers in China are pushing iPhones with deep discounts. (WSJ-subscription)

Apple CEO Tim Cook told a Dublin radio station the company expects to repatriate billions of dollars back to the US next year, although he did not specify an amount. Cook also called the EU's $14.5 billion tax bill for the company "total political crap." (Reuters)

Mylan (MYL), the drugmaker at the center of a firestorm over hefty price increases on the lifesaving EpiPen, put a special incentive plan in place more than two years ago that rewards executives only if they hit aggressive profit targets. (WSJ-subscription)

Mazda is recalling a total of 2.3 million vehicles, including the Mazda 3 sedan and the CX-3 SUV crossover models, worldwide over potential problems with their rear gates, along with a separate issue involving diesel engines. (Reuters)

Lazard (LAZ), the investment bank that advised SolarCity (SCTY) on its $2.6 billion sale to Tesla (TSLA), made an error in its analysis that discounted the value of the U.S. solar energy company by $400 million, a regulatory filing by Tesla showed. (Reuters)

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) was given a stand-alone asset management license in China, according to a regulatory filing, the latest evidence that Beijing is becoming more comfortable with foreign firms accessing its financial markets. (WSJ)

The collapse of South Korea's Hanjin Shipping, the world's seventh-biggest shipping line, sent ripples through global trade today, as South Korea's largest port turned away Hanjin ships and as some manufacturers scrambled for freight alternatives. (Reuters)

Russia is the most unequal major economy in the world, with almost two-thirds of its wealth controlled by millionaires, according to wealth research firm New World Wealth. Twenty-six percent of Russia's wealth is held by billionaires. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

Ahead of tomorrow's government August employment report, the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. ET releases its weekly look at jobless claims. Economists expect new filings of 265,000 last week. On Wednesday, the ADP's private sector jobs report for August was basically in-line with expectations.

As investors try to figure on whether the Fed deems the economy strong enough to hike interest rates this month for the second time in a decade, the government is out with a data set that's shown weakness. Revised second-quarter productivity figures at 8:30 a.m. ET are seen dropping 0.6 percent.

There are also two reports at 10 a.m. ET: the Institute for Supply Management's August nonmanufacturing index and the government's July construction spending report. The ISM is expected to come in at 52, while the construction spending is seen rising 0.5 percent.

The nation's automakers issue their August sales figures throughout the morning, with forecasts calling for an annual selling rate of 17.2 million vehicles, down from a 17.9 million rate in July, which started off strong with Independence Day promotions but weakened after that.

Campbell Soup (CPB) is among a handful of companies out with quarterly results this morning, along with Ciena (CIEN) and Vera Bradley (VRA). On this afternoon's earnings list are Ambarella (AMBA), Bebe Stores (BEBE), Broadcom (AVGO), Lululemon (LULU), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), and VeriFone Systems (PAY).

Charter Communications (CHTR) replaces EMC (EMC) in the S&P 500 after the close of trading next Wednesday, with EMC being acquired by privately held computer maker Dell.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Salesforce.com (CRM) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 24 cents per share, 2 cents above estimates. Revenue was slightly above forecasts. But the cloud software company warned on guidance.

Box (BOX) lost an adjusted 14 cents per share, 5 cents smaller than estimated. Revenue also came in better than forecast. The online file sharing company also raised its full-year outlook on improving sales.

Shoe Carnival (SCVL) fell 5 cents short of estimates, with quarterly profit of 22 cents per share. Revenue also below forecasts. The shoe retailer's comparable store sales rose a weaker-than-expected 0.5 percent.

Five Below (FIVE) raised its forecast for the full year, after the discount retailer reported better than expected results for its most recent quarter. However, it gave downbeat guidance for the current quarter.

Costco (COST) reported flat global comparable store sales for August, and flat comps in the U.S. as well. Both measures had been expected to rise by 1.3 percent, according to estimates.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) shares could benefit from a 1.1 percent increase in Macau gaming revenue in August, the first monthly year-over-year growth in the Chinese territory since May of 2014.

WATERCOOLER

With the toy industry on pace for its biggest year in nearly two decades, Wal-Mart (WMT) is betting on familiar names to power sales this holiday. Hundreds of kids aged 18 months to 12 years selected their favorite toys. (CNBC)

Wal-Mart is beginning its holiday layaway program tomorrow, two weeks early, hoping to get a jump on the holiday shopping season and a repeat of last year's strong toy sales driven by "Star Wars" products. (Reuters)