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Amazon on fire; NAFTA progress; Emerging market pain

1. Amazon on fire: Shares in Amazon rose by more than 3% on Wednesday, lea...

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 9:11 AM
Updated: Aug 30, 2018 9:11 AM

1. Amazon on fire: Shares in Amazon rose by more than 3% on Wednesday, leaving the company's market value just short of $1 trillion.

Another strong performance on Thursday would earn Amazon the distinction of being the second US company to be valued above $1 trillion. Apple was first across the line earlier in August.

Amazon stock has doubled in value over the past year, and is now less than $2 away from breaking through another barrier: $2,000 per share.

The company had earned a reputation for pursuing growth rather than delivering profits for shareholders. That has changed in recent quarters, when profits increased dramatically as investments in areas such as cloud computing paid off.

But it's not without critics: US Senator Bernie Sanders wants to slap a special tax on Amazon and other big companies that employ workers who collect food stamps and other public assistance, for example.

2. NAFTA back on track? Canadian officials appeared optimistic Wednesday that a deal to rewrite NAFTA is within reach.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the United States, Mexico and Canada may reach agreement this week.

"We recognize that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada," he said at a press conference in Ontario. "No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal."

President Donald Trump said Monday that the United States had reached a preliminary deal with Mexico, and that he might simply leave Canada out.

3. More pain for emerging markets: Argentina has asked the International Monetary Fund to speed up the disbursement of its $50 billion lifeline arranged earlier this year.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement that she had instructed her staff to "reexamine the phasing of the financial program."

The IMF stepped in to help Argentina in June after the peso weakened dramatically. It dropped 7% to a record low against the US dollar on Wednesday.

Pressure on emerging markets extended to Turkey, where the lira fell another 1% on Thursday amid fears over the strength of the economy.

"The latest Turkish activity data suggest that the plunge in the lira since May, and the associated sharp tightening of financial conditions, has tipped the economy into recession," wrote analysts at Capital Economics. "Things are only likely to get worse."

Rising interest rates in the United States have encouraged investors to shift money into dollar assets, exposing fundamental weaknesses in some emerging markets.

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were lower after another record day on Wednesday.

European markets dropped in early trade, with London's FTSE 100 and Frankfurt's DAX down 0.7%. Most Asian markets ended lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.2% on Wednesday. The S&P 500 increased 0.6% and the Nasdaq rose 1%, with both indexes closing at new highs.

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5. Earnings and economics: Abercrombie & Fitch, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Michaels Stores will release earnings before the open. American Outdoor Brands and lululemon athletica will follow after the close.

Campbell Soup is also expected to report earnings and wrap up a review of its troubled business. The CEO stepped down in May, and the stock is down 25% this year.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis will release personal income and personal spending reports for July at 8:30 a.m. ET.

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6. Coming this week:

Thursday Abercrombie & Fitch, Campbell Soup, Lululemon and Dollar Tree earnings
Friday — Eurozone unemployment data released for July

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