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A September Slowdown?

Talk of a September downturn is all over the Street, but that was the way it was at the start of August too: Bulls and Bears were expecting a pullback, and despite several weak intraday sessions in the beginning of the month, and one weak close in mid-August, it never happened.

Stocks are set to start September on a slightly lower note, following mixed trading in European and Asian markets. This comes after U.S. markets had their best August in 9 years.

ISM and Pending Home Sales due out at 10 AM.

Later today, automakers will report their August auto sales. Yesterday, Ford's chief sales analyst said that the U.S. auto industry may have its first year-over-year increase in monthly sales since October 2007.

Elsewhere:

1) CIT is down 5 percent pre-open after revealing it would not be able to pay a September 15 interest payment on notes due in 2067. As a result, the commercial lender, which has recently faced liquidity pressures, said it will defer the interest payments, but did not provide an estimated time frame for when the payments would be made.

2) Bank of America is up 1 percent pre-open. The bank is reportedly looking to repay part of the $45 billion in TARP funds it received from the federal government. According to the Wall Street Journal's report, the U.S. is also urging the bank to pay at least $500 million to end an arrangement that has the government sharing losses on the bank's assets in exchange for preferred stock.

3) Coach was upgraded by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch to "buy." The brokerage firm believes the luxury retailer's latest strategy of offering lower-priced goods is off to a good start.

4) BHP Billiton was upgraded to "buy" by UBS on heightened forecasts for commodity prices. UBS advises the miner will benefit from a continued rise in Chinese demand and worldwide restocking, and it expects to see continued growth through M&A.

5) eBay is up 1 percent pre-open on reports that it will sell its Skype Internet phone operations to private investors in a deal that will be likely announced later today. eBay had acquired Skype back in 2005 for $2.6 billion.

6) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that airlines around the world lost $6 billion in the second quarter as higher fuel prices and weaker demand pushed airlines further into the red. Combined with the smaller Q1 loss of $4 billion, first half losses have already exceeded the association's prior expectations of a $9 billion loss for the entire year.

Looking ahead, the IATA warns that "the future path is likely to be volatile and weaker than normal recoveries."

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