U.S. Stocks Remain in Tight Band Ahead of Jobs Report

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HOW WE GOT HERE

U.S. stocks fell slightly in one of their lightest trading days of the year, as the market more or less tread water ahead of Friday’s monthly jobs report.

Stocks, oil and gold all fell as the dollar rose amid the market’s ongoing rehashing and mulling of its own take on what it expects the Fed to do, in September and the rest of the year. Government bond yields were largely unchanged. There wasn’t much data on the calendar – S&P Case-Shiller report on homes, and a consumer confidence report. Wednesday is more promising for Fed tea-leaf readers.

Traders will get three Fed speakers on Wednesday’s docket – Rosengren, Kashkari, and Evans – as well as the ADP jobs report.

The S&P 500 moved only about 0.5% from high to low on Tuesday, a narrow band that extended to 18 the number of consecutive sessions in which the index has moved less than 0.75% during the day. That is the longest such streak among records dating back to 1970.

The big news on Tuesday, though, was the EU antitrust regulator’s decision for force Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in unpaid, unlevied taxes from Apple. The EU’s argument is that a sweetheart deal, which amounted to “illegal tax benefits,” allowed Apple to pay virtually no taxes over the past decade on its European business. It’s the largest sum the regulator’s ever imposed, and of course was denounced by Apple, the U.S., and Ireland.

COMING UP

Data Front: MBA Mortgage Applications (7:00 AM ET), ADP Employment Report (8:15 AM ET), Chicago PMI (9:45 AM ET), Pending Home Sales Index (10:00 AM ET), EIA Petroleum Status Report (10:30 AM ET), Farm Prices (3:00 PM ET).

Fedspeak: Boston Fed’s Eric Rosengren Speaks (3:15 AM ET), Minneapolis Fed’s Neel Kashkari Speaks (8:00 AM ET), Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans Speaks (3:15 PM ET).

Earnings: Bob Evans, Brown-Forman, Chico’s FAS, Korn/Ferry, Navistar, Salesforce.

NUMBER OF THE DAY

0.75%

In the 17 trading days through last Thursday, the S&P 500 moved less than 0.75% between its daily high and low, the most consecutive days within such a narrow trading range in records that go back to 1970.

MUST READS

EU Hits Apple With Irish Tax Bill of $14.5 Billion:  The European Union’s antitrust regulator has demanded that Ireland recoup roughly €13 billion ($14.5 billion) of unpaid taxes over a decade from Apple Inc., a move that could intensify a feud between the EU and the U.S. over the bloc’s tax probes into American companies.

Apple Ruling Stirs Fears of Revenue Loss in U.S.: American politicians have spent years salivating over U.S. companies’ stockpile of untaxed foreign profits, now more than $2 trillion and growing. This week, Europe got to that money pot first.

Dollar at One-Month High as Investors Mull U.S. Rate Path: The dollar improved Tuesday as investors continued to assess the outlook for U.S. interest-rate increases this year. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against 16 others, was up 0.5% at 86.96, a one-month high.

U.S. Stocks Slip as Monetary Policy Remains in Focus: U.S. stocks edged lower Tuesday, as the dollar strengthened on expectations that the Federal Reserve was moving closer to raising interest rates.

ISIS Says Spokesman Killed in Syria: The militant group’s Amaq news agency said Tuesday that Abu Mohammed al-Adnani was “martyred” while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo, without providing further details.

Google Takes On Uber With New Ride-Share Service: Google is moving onto Uber Technologies Inc.’s turf with its own ride-sharing service in San Francisco that would help commuters carpool at far cheaper rates, according to a person familiar with the matter, jumping into a booming but fiercely competitive market.

Chinese Banks Step Up Bad-Loan Write-Offs: China’s largest banks are writing off huge volumes of soured loans in an effort to clean up their balance sheets, as they look to improve their future profitability despite the country’s economic slowdown.

This Is the Quietest Stock Market in Decades: By some measures, the S&P 500 has been trading in its narrowest range in decades, a sign of just how muted market activity has been.

CHART OF THE DAY