Sep. 4 - Summary of business headlines: Auto sales jump; Oil futures fall; Fed econ update; Samsung unveils smartwatch. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Stocks got a lift after some big auto sales numbers- vehicle sales coming in above a 16 million annualized pace- for the first time since November of 2007- a tangible sign of an improving economy. Financials and tech stocks also helping to lift the major U.S. indexes, which closed higher for the second day in a row. All arrows up in Europe as well- with modest gains across the board. Attention remains focused on whether there will be a Western-led military attack against Syria- and its impact on the Middle East region; that continues to create volatility in the energy sector. Crude oil futures were down more than one percent. Bonds continue to fall out of favor on fears of the Fed cutting back its bond buying program- Pimco's Total Return Fund- the world's largest bond fund, had $7.7 billion in net cash outflows in August- according to Morningstar. It's the 4th straight month of withdrawals from the fund. In economic news, the Fed says the U.S. economy is growing at a modest to moderate pace- just strong enough to reinforce the prospect of a pull back in monetary stimulus. The Beige Book also pointed to firming residential real estate- higher consumer spending, and a job market that held steady or increased modestly. The U.S. trade deficit widened in July. But that's in part because imports were up- a sign that domestic demand is improving. Jim Glassman, senior economist at JP Morgan Chase: SOUNDBITE: JIM GLASSMAN, SENIOR ECONOMIST, JP MORGAN CHASE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We typically see rising imports as an echo of rising consumer spending so in that sense it's good. But month to month these numbers are quite volatile." And finally- Android fan alert: Samsung's Galaxy Gear got its big unveiling. The smart watch works as an accessory to its Galaxy smart phone. It's got a small screen and can take photos, send instant messages and make hands-free phone calls. Apple is expected to unveil a similar product as soon as next week.