Summary: Wall Street was mostly lower despite a pick-up in manufacturing and construction activity; Apple iCloud, Home Depot may be latest victims of hack attacks; Dollar General threatens hostile bid for Family Dollar. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street returns from the long holiday weekend in a mildly negative mood after the stock market finished August with the best monthly gain since February. The Dow and the S&P 500 traded most of the day with a negative bias, but the Nasdaq turned up. Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments believes the market is in the back-half of a long-term bull market, which favors investment in companies and sectors with predictable growth. SOUNDBITE: KEN FISHER, CEO, FISHER INVESTMENTS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "So what that translates into is companies within tech with fat gross operating profits, earnings consistency, visibility far out into the future and that leads to big, established not terribly cyclical names and that also transcends technology into other categories that typically lead late bull markets like healthcare and consumer staples as well." Manufacturing activity zoomed to the highest in nearly 3-1/2 years. The Institute for Supply Management's monthly survey pointed to a rise in new orders for the strength. In corporate headlines, Apple says it is "actively investigating" a media report that nude photos of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton may have been hacked using iCloud and posted on the web. The FBI is "aware" of the situation and "addressing the matter." It is not yet clear how the hackers got access to the photos and if they indeed came from Apple's cloud service. Shares of Apple hit a post-split record high above $103. In another possible security breach, Home Depot says it is looking into "some unusual activity" related to customer information. The Dow component lost two percent after CNBC reported credit card data were possibly stolen. Dollar General - stepping up its fight for Family Dollar. The top U.S. dollar retailer - upping its offer price to $9.1 billion, offering a $500 million break-up fee, and offering to get rid of up to 1,500 stores. If that's not enough to convince Family Dollar, then Dollar General warns it could go hostile and take the offer directly to shareholders. Family Dollar has agreed to be bought by Dollar Tree. All three dollar stores were up for the day. Mergers and acquisitions - the headline in Europe. There's speculation drugmaker Pfizer may make a new bid for AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca's CEO tried to downplay the speculation in our interview. Stocks closed the day mixed, with Germany leading the way up.