Wall Street embarks on the historically worst month of the year after best August in 4 years

BY THE NUMBERS

September is historically the worst month of the year for stocks, and futures were mixed this morning on the month's first trading day. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq did post September gains last year for the first time in four years. (CNBC)

* Stocks clinch best August performance in over 4 years despite trade turmoil (CNBC)

Major automakers — with the exception of General Motors (GM) — will report their August sales figures this morning. Analysts surveyed by Edmunds.com expect a 1.2 percent increase in sales compared to a year ago. (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) was under pressure in the premarket this morning. Goldman Sachs resumed coverage on the stock with a sell rating. Goldman had removed its rating and price target after saying it was advising Tesla on CEO Elon Musk's go-private proposal, which has since been abandoned. (CNBC)

There are no major earnings reports out this morning. Restoration Hardware parent RH (RH) and human resources software company Workday (WDAY) are out with quarterly numbers after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Partisans on both sides are focusing on one of the most consequential questions surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination: whether he would stand firm with precedents set by landmark rulings or be willing to overturn them. (WSJ)

* What to expect from Kavanaugh's hearings today (CNBC)
* Advocate for women, or threat? Differing views emerge (NY Times)

President Donald Trump fired another round in a public feud with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump criticized Sessions for investigations of two GOP lawmakers that could hurt the party's chances in the November elections. (CNBC)

Rep. Devin Nunes may be one of the most powerful GOP members in the House but he's also a polarizing figure in national politics. The California Republican is in a tighter race than usual, as Democratic challenger Andrew Janz has been rising in fresh polling. (CNBC)

* The Senate races where Trump approval is losing ground (Axios)
* Vulnerable Democrat Claire McCaskill tied with Republican Josh Hawley in crucial Senate race: Poll (CNBC)

Bloomberg News denied being the source of an off-the-record interview remark made by Trump that complicated already tense negotiations between the United States and Canada over the contours of a new NAFTA deal. (CNBC)

A grief-stricken Meghan McCain over the weekend appeared to take a swipe at Trump during a moving tribute honoring her father, Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, blasting the president for "cheap rhetoric" on American greatness. (CNBC)

* Monica Lewinsky storms offstage after 'off limits' Bill Clinton question (AP)
* New Yorker drops plans to interview Bannon at festival (AP)

Tropical Storm Gordon is heading toward the northern Gulf Coast, prompting the National Hurricane Center to issue a hurricane warning from the mouth of the Pearl River, Mississippi, to the border between Alabama and Florida. (The Weather Channel)

Nike (NKE) is featuring Colin Kaepernick in a new ad campaign, as it begins celebrating the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It" campaign. Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. (CNBC)

JD.com (JD) CEO Richard Liu has returned to China, days after being arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual assault. The company said the accusation against Liu was unsubstantiated, and he was released without charges or bail. (NY Times)

CNBC has learned that Samsung will unveil a foldable smartphone later this year. DJ Koh, CEO of the electronics giant's mobile division, said "it's time to deliver" on a foldable device after consumer surveys carried out by Samsung.

* Samsung to challenge Amazon's Alexa by letting developers make apps for its Bixby voice assistant (CNBC)

Amazon.com (AMZN) is challenging Facebook (FB) and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit in online advertising, according to the New York Times. Amazon's data on people's shopping habits gives it the ability to place ads more effectively.

* Facebook shares fall after downgrade on 'toxic brew' of slowing sales growth and regulation risk (CNBC)
* Fringe figures find refuge in Facebook's private groups (CNBC)

Autonomous driving technology could replace some 294,000 long-distance truck drivers over the next 25 years, a lighter impact than some have predicted but one that could still significantly reshape freight-industry employment, according to a new research paper. (WSJ)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Verizon (VZ) was downgraded to "equal-weight" from "overweight" at Barclays, which likes the company's prospects but feels its current valuation puts a cap on the stock's potential upside moves.

Dollar Tree (DLTR) was downgraded to "outperform" from "top pick" at RBC Capital Markets, which cited a variety of issues at the discount retailer's Family Dollar unit.

WPP (WPP) said profitability would decline this year, in the first earnings presented by new Chief Executive Officer Mark Read. However, Read, who was named CEO on Monday, also said the ad agency had seen revenue growth for the first time in a year.

Sanofi (SNY) received European Union approval for its treatment for a rare blood-clotting disorder. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to do the same early next year.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) are on watch following the release of August gaming figures from Macau, which showed gambling revenue up 17 percent in the Chinese territory compared to a year earlier. That marks the 25th straight month of gains.

Roku (ROKU) was rated "buy" in new coverage at Guggenheim, which calls the maker of video streaming devices a key player in the disruption of the domestic television business.

WATERCOOLER

"Crazy Rich Asians" achieved a milestone over the long Labor Day weekend, becoming the most successful studio rom-com in nine years at the U.S. box office. The movie topped the box office again this weekend with an estimated $117 million. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Serena Williams survived a scare from giant-killer Kaia Kanepi to claim a roller-coaster win Sunday and move into the U.S. Open tennis quarterfinals, a step closer to a record-equaling 24th career Grand Slam title. (Reuters)

* Roger Federer stunned by 55th-ranked John Millman in US Open's 4th Round (AP)