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Mixed Economic Data, Ebola Scares Rattle Markets

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Mixed Economic Data, Ebola Scares Rattle Markets
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U.S. stocks declined sharply as investors digest reports of a confirmed case of Ebola in the United States. In addition, economic data released on Wednesday was mixed, at best.

Construction spending fell during August while ISM manufacturing came in weaker than expected. Bulls are hoping that Friday's nonfarm payrolls for September will reignite the market and restore confidence.

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The Dow lost 1.40 percent, closing at 16,804.71.
The S&P 500 lost 1.32 percent, closing at 1,946.16.
The Nasdaq lost 1.59 percent, closing at 4,422.09.
Gold gained 0.20 percent, trading at $1,216.70 an ounce.
Oil lost 0.55 percent, trading at $89.27 an ounce.
Silver gained 0.69 percent, trading at $17.17 an ounce.

News Of Note

MBA Mortgage Composite Index declined 0.2 percent after declining 4.1 percent last week.

MBA Mortgage Purchase Index remained flat after declining 0.3 percent last week.

MBA Mortgage Refinance Index declined 0.3 percent after declining 7 percent last week.

September ADP Jobs Report rose 213,000 (versus the consensus of 210,000) compared to August's gain of 202,000 (revised from 204,000).

September U.S. PMI Manufacturing fell to 57.5 (versus consensus of 58.2) from 57.9 in August.

September ISM Manufacturing Index fell to 56.6 (versus consensus of 58.0) from 59.0 in August.

August Construction Spending fell 0.8 percent month over month (versus consensus of +0.5 percent) to $961 billion. Private construction spend totaled $685 billion while public construction spend totaled $276 billion.

EIA Crude Inventories declined 1.4 million barrels versus expectations of a gain of 0.9 million barrels.

EIA Gasoline Inventories declined 1.8 million barrels versus expectations of a decline of 0.8 million barrels.

EIA Distillates Inventories declined 2.9 million barrels versus expectations of a decline of 0.2 million barrels.

Analyst Upgrades And Downgrades Of Note

Analysts at FBR Capital maintained a Market Perform rating on Allstate (NYSE: ALL) with a price target raised to $58 from a previous $55. Shares lost 0.90 percent, closing at $60.81.

Analysts at JPMorgan maintained an Overweight rating on Avis Budget Group (NYSE: CAR) with a price target lowered to $69 from a previous $72. Shares lost 2.93 percent, closing at $53.28.

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Analysts at Credit Suisse assumed coverage of Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ: BBBY) with a Neutral rating and $70 price target. Shares lost 0.87 percent, closing at $65.26.

Analysts at JPMorgan maintained an Overweight rating on BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) with a price target raised to $415 from a previous $368. Shares lost 1.55 percent, closing at $323.24.

Analysts at Atlantic Securities initiated coverage of Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) with an Overweight rating and $31 price target. Shares lost 0.56 percent, closing at $25.03.

Analysts at BB&T Capital downgraded Dean Foods (NYSE: DF) to Hold from Buy. Shares hit new 52-week lows of $12.75 before closing the day at $13.03, down 1.66 percent.

Analysts at Wunderlich initiated coverage of Deckers Outdoor (NYSE: DECK) with a Buy rating and $121 price target. Shares lost 6.36 percent, closing at $91.00.

Analysts at JPMorgan downgraded eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) to Neutral from Overweight with a price target raised to $61 from a previous $56. Also, analysts at Jefferies downgraded eBay to Neutral from Buy with a price target lowered to $56.63 from a previous $59. Analysts at Wedbush also downgraded eBay to Neutral from Outperform while analysts at JMP Securities downgraded eBay to Market Perform from Market Outperform while removing a prior $58 price target. Shares lost 2.05 percent, closing at $55.47.

Analysts at KeyBanc maintained a Buy rating on FMC (NYSE: FMC) with a price target lowered to $78 from a previous $92. Shares hit new 52-week lows of $56.16 before closing the day at $56.31, down 1.54 percent.

Analysts at Brean Capital initiated coverage of Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) with a Buy rating and $39 price target. Shares lost 2.36 percent, closing at $31.88.

Analysts at Credit Suisse maintained an Outperform rating on Tyco International (NYSE: TYC) with a price target raised to $50 from a previous $47. Shares lost 0.31 percent, closing at $44.43.

Analysts at Credit Suisse upgraded Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) to Neutral from Underperform with a price target raised to $42 from a previous $38. Shares gained 1.57 percent, closing at $39.99.

Analysts at JPMorgan maintained an Overweight rating on United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) with a price target lowered to $120 from a previous $130. Shares lost 1.67 percent, closing at $103.84.

Analysts at FBR Capital maintained a Market Perform rating on Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) with a price target lowered to $62 from a previous $66. Also, analysts at JPMorgan maintained an Overweight rating on Walgreen with a price target lowered to $70 from a previous $71. Shares lost 0.39 percent, closing at $59.04.

Equities-Specific News Of Note

Ford (NYSE: F) reported that its September unit sales fell 2.7 percent to 180,175 units. Shares lost 1.39 percent, closing at $14.59.

General Motors (NYSE: GM) reported that its September unit sales rose 19.4 percent to 223,437 units. Separately, the company plans for new or refreshed car models will account for 47 percent of sales by 2019 and to deploy the world's largest automotive deployment of 4G LTE broadband over the coming years. Shares gained 1.72 percent, closing at $32.49.

Toyota (NYSE: TM) reported that its September unit sales rose 1.7 percent to 167,279. Shares lost 0.75 percent, closing at $116.65.

According to Inside EVs, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) sold approximately 2,500 Model S vehicles in September. Shares lost 1.05 percent, closing at $240.12.

Apache (NYSE: APA) plans to sell a third of its oil and gas production in Texas and Western Oklahoma for more than $2.5 billion.

Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD) has agreed to acquire interests in Oiltanking Partners (NYSE: OILT) for $2.21 billion in cash and 54.80 million Enterprise Products Partners common units, valuing the deal at $4.41 billion. Shares of Enterprise Products Partners lost 1.69 percent, closing at $39.62 while shares of Oiltanking Partners lost 0.54 percent, closing at $49.32.

Activist investor Sandell Asset Management is pushing JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU) to seek an acquirer for its optical component and commercial laser ops. Shares gained 2.73 percent, closing at $13.15.

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Vanguard Natural Resources (NASDAQ: VNR) finalized its acquisition of Bill Barrett for an adjusted price of $508 million. Shares lost 1.71 percent, closing at $26.99.

Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX) announced that its Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will offer a preferred retail pharmacy network featuring Walgreen (NYSE: WAG). Shares of Express Scripts lost 0.79 percent, closing at $70.07 while shares of Walgreen lost 0.39 percent, closing at $59.04.

Winners Of Note

The Babcock & Wilcox Company (NYSE: BWC) is considering splitting itself in to two separate publicly traded companies. The first company will focus on power-generation while the other company would focus on government and nuclear operations. Shares gained 7.98 percent, closing at $29.90.

The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) plans to cut 7.5 percent of its staff as part of a strategy of investing in the “digital future.” The company also noted that its third quarter financial results represent an improvement over the second quarter due to strong growth in digital advertising and digital subscriptions. Shares gained 9.63 percent, closing at $12.30.

Decliners Of Note

Westport Innovations (NASDAQ: WPRT) said last night that it expects its fiscal 2014 revenue to be $130 million to $140 million, lower than prior guidance of $175 million to $185 million. The company cited uncertainty in its primary markets of Europe, Russia and China for the lowered guidance. Shares hit new 52-week lows of $7.40 before closing the day at $7.91, down 24.74 percent.

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Quote Of The Day

“We're No. 1 in database, we're No. 1 in middleware, but we're No. 2 in applications ... At Oracle, silver medal is first loser.” –Safra Catz, Oracle's co-CEO speaking to Bloomberg on Tuesday.

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