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Can the Dow and S&P follow Nasdaq to new highs?

IN THE NEWS TODAY

While trading has been cautious as of late, the Nasdaq has been a standout. It's coming off another all-time closing high, has been up for three straight sessions, and is rapidly closing the gap on the Dow and S&P 500 in terms of 2016 gains. (CNBC)

U.S. stock futures were searching for direction, as investors continue to speculate on what the Fed will do at its meeting this month. The Dow has posted three consecutive advances. The S&P 500 is up for two straight days. Both were just shy of record highs. (CNBC)


Apple (AAPL) is expected to unveil the new iPhone 7 models this afternoon. An analyst with an accurate prognostication record predicted a list of specs, including a dual-lens camera, no dedicated headphone jack and improved water resistance. (The Verge)

A new Apple Watch is also expected, with a faster processor, longer battery life and GPS, which would allow for more stand-alone functionality. Mac computers, as well as Apple TV and Apple Music software, are seen getting refreshes. (Fast Company)

Ireland's government has acknowledged it will have to accept the $14.6 billion payment from Apple ordered by the European Commission, despite well-publicized resistance to the award. Apple is appealing the ruling. Ireland is also considering an appeal. (CNBC)

Bill Ackman's Pershing Square has taken a 9.9 percent stake in Chipotle (CMG), calling the restaurant stock undervalued. It's also planning to engage with the board. Separately, the billionaire activist investor left the board of Canadian Pacific (CP).

Goldman Sachs (GS) has banned partners from contributing to certain campaigns, including the ticket of Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. The rules prohibit donations to any federal candidate who's also a sitting local official, such as Pence. (Politico)

Ahead tonight's commander-in-chief forum on MSNBC and NBC, Hillary Clinton mocked Trump's national security credentials, and touted her own experience as a former secretary of state and an ex-U.S. senator. (Washington Post)

Trump leads Clinton by 19 points, among current and former military voters, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey election tracking poll. On Tuesday, a group of 88 retired generals and admirals signed a letter backing Trump.

The U.S. transferred $1.7 billion in cash to Iran in order to settle a long-running dispute over a failed 1979 arms deal. U.S. officials acknowledged the payment of the first $400 million "coincided with Iran's release of American prisoners and was used as leverage." (WSJ)

Senate Democrats again blocked funding to fight Zika, demanding that Republicans drop an effort to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving money to combat the virus. Democrats regard any restriction on Planned Parenthood as setting a dangerous example. (NY Times)

Northwest Mexico was bracing for a second landfall of Hurricane Newton. Moving north, the storm could then bring heavy rain to parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Meanwhile, Florida continued to clean up after being hit by Hurricane Hermine last week. (NBC News)


BY THE NUMBERS

San Francisco Fed President John Williams repeated his call for gradual interest rate hikes, evidently unfazed by a slowdown in job gains and sluggishness in the services sector.

The Fed's Beige Book is the highlight of today's economic releases, with the region-by-region look at the economy set for release at 2 p.m. ET. Ahead of that, the Labor Department's JOLTS report for July, a measure of job opportunities and labor turnover, is out at 10 a.m. ET.

Even the drama of the monthly employment report on Friday did little to move either bond yields or the mortgage market. Mortgage application volume increased 0.9 percent last week. Refis were up 1 percent.

The earnings calendar is extremely light, with only an after-the-bell release from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

In addition to Apple's new products, Sony is expected to introduce today, an improved version of its PlayStation videogame console.


STOCKS TO WATCH

Dave & Buster's (PLAY) reported quarterly profit of 50 cents per share, beating forecasts by 6 cents, while the restaurant chain's revenue was also above forecasts. The company did cut its full year forecast for comparable store sales.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is planning a $600 million secondary share offering as well as a sale of $450 million in convertible debt. The chip maker will use the proceeds to repay current debt and capital expenditures.

BlackRock (BLK) funds will be allowed to lend money to one another in the event of any cash shortages, thanks to a new SEC ruling. Managers will be able to borrow up to 10 percent of their fund's assets without putting up assets as collateral.

A fire at Gap Inc.'s (GPS) distribution center in Fishkill, New York, last week was set, according to authorities. The apparel retailer said it will be able to resume some functions at the facility this week.


WATERCOOLER

A Beverly Hills estate once owned by William Randolph Hearst and featured in the movie "The Godfather" will list for $195 million — up 18 percent from its last formal listing price in 2007. (WSJ)