U.S. stocks fluctuated today and ended the trading on the negative side as investors remain uncertain on the market situation. Data from the Conference board showed that the consumer conference index (CCI) declined from 81.9 to 79.7, the lowest rate since in May.

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Bloomberg reported that growing concerns over employment and wage prospects are affecting the sentiment of consumers in the United States. A report indicated that retailers will hire 11 percent less workers this coming holiday season. Some analysts believe that retailers are cautious in hiring because of concerns regarding the implementation of ObamaCare.

The Department of Labor reported that employers in the country added 169,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate declined to 7.3 percent. However, the drop in the jobless was mainly due to a huge number of workers leaving the labor force. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently stated that the current condition of the job market is still “far from what all of us would like to see.”

In addition, consumers are also worried about the ongoing political wrangling in Congress regarding the federal budget and debt ceiling.

Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC opined that the employment situation in the United States “seemed to be improving, but at a frustratingly slow pace. It’s not a terrible situation, but actual spending has been tepid this year.”

Stanley added, “The consumer is in a cautious, wait-and-see mode, with geopolitical uncertainties in the news lately, as well as the looming budget battle.”

Meanwhile, the report from S&P/Case Schiller indicated that home prices in 20 cities across the country went up by 12.4 percent in July.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 15,328.62 (-0.47%)
  • S&P 500- 1,696.25 (-0.33%)
  • NASDAQ- 3,764.74 (-0.01%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,077.21 (-0.47%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 2, 922.93 (+0.57%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,571.46 (+0.21%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 8,664.60 (+0.34%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 14, 732.61 (-0.07%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,179.04 (-0.82%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2, 443.89 (-1.15%)

Stocks In Focus

The stock price of Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT) surged by more than 9% to as much as $17.49 per share after announcing its agreement to acquire Tokyo Electro Limited (TYO:8035) (OTCMKTS:TOELY) for $9 billion. The combined company will be worth $29 billion. The shareholders Applied Materials will own a 68% stake in the combined company.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) hit another record high today at $49.66 per share after an analyst at Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) upgraded their rating for the shares of the social network giant from neutral to buy with a $55 per share price target. Citigroup analyst Mark May noted that advertisers are increasing their spending on the social network giant by 15%.

The analyst said, “Following several conversations with advertisers and agencies, we believe the factors driving the sudden inflection and growth in the second quarter are sustainable and that there are a number of factors that should contribute to further growth and gains, and potential upside.”

The shares of CarMax, Inc (NYSE:KMX) gained by 3.56% to $51.79 a share after reporting a 29% increased in second quarter earnings to $0.62 per share. The company reported $3.25 billion revenue, up by 17%.

Visa Inc (NYSE:V) declined by 1.40% to $193.49 per share on reports that the company, including MasterCard Inc (NYSE:MA), were forced to reduce their processing fees in France. Under the new rules implemented by French regulators, credit card companies will cut interbank fees from 0.50% to 0.28% and ATM fees from €0.75 to €0.55. The shares of MasterCard were slightly up at $685.37 per share.