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Stock Market News Today: Syria, Jobs, Septaper, and the Biggest Share-Price Moves

In major stock market news today, markets are pulling out of losses at midday after volatile morning trade. Investors pulled out of markets after Russian President Vladimir Putin today vowed to back Syria in the event of a U.S. attack.  

U.S. President Barack Obama, joining Putin at the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg today, repeated his message that a U.S. attack would not be full scale, but would be on par with a recent attack on Damascus.

In other stock market news today, investors learned that the United States added 169,000 jobs in August as unemployment dropped slightly to 7.3% from 7.4%, according to the U.S. Labor Department. It was fewer jobs than economists anticipated.

And fewer people were looking for work as the labor force participation dropped to 63.2%, which is the lowest level since 1978, according to MarketWatch. Many investors suspect the worse-than-expected jobs data could delay the U.S. Federal Reserve's plans to ease out of its bond-buying program starting after the Sept. 17-18 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting (Septaper).

Meanwhile, Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans hinted that the Fed could begin increasing interest rates in 2015 as unemployment falls below 6.5%.

Amid the mixed economic data this week, Treasury yields, which have been rising all week, dropped today as Treasury prices rose on the jobs report data. The 10-year Treasury prices are up about 1% this morning.

Consumer Stocks in the News

Among top stock market news today, the consumer, technology, and healthcare sectors hold several movers…

In consumer stocks news, Mattress Firm Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: MFRM) shares are down 15% as the company reported Q2 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.43 versus consensus estimate of $0.51. Net sales were $302.5 million, compared to the $323 million the Street expected. Year-ago adjusted EPS was $0.42, on net sales of $262 million.

And, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) says it may allow its chief executive officer to step down sooner than originally planned under a succession plan outlined last night, Reuters reports. Ford shares are down about 1%.

Healthcare Stocks in the News

Atossa Genetics Inc. (Nasdaq: ATOS) shares are up about 6% in midday trading due to a cancer breakthrough it plans to showcase this weekend…

Atossa will exhibit its ForeCYTE Breast Health Test at the 2013 Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco, CA, which starts Saturday.

Altossa's test detects reversible precancerous conditions in the breast up to eight years before the conditions turn into cancer. It uses no radiation and does not require invasive biopsy needles or surgical incisions.

Energy Stocks in the News

In energy stock news today, Layne Christensen Co. (Nasdaq: LAYN), a water management, construction, and drilling company, is down 6% today after it swung to a loss of $1.17 per diluted share in fiscal Q2 from a profit of $0.24 a year earlier. Q2 revenue declined to $232 million from $288 million. Analysts had expected an adjusted loss of $0.39 on revenue of $261 million.

And, GasLog Ltd. (NYSE: GLOG) is up 2.4% after it announced it has signed a memorandum of agreement to acquire the STX Frontier, a 153,600 cubic meter liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier, from Singapore-based STX Pan Ocean LNG PTE. Ltd. The acquisition cost of the vessel is in the vicinity of US$160 million.

This Week's Major Stock Market News

In fact, GasLog's acquisition of STX Frontier is just one of several major mergers and acquisitions this week, especially in the technology sector…

Nokia Corp. (NYSE ADR: NOK) rose more than 44% Monday after announcing a deal with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). Microsoft said it will purchase substantially all of Nokia's Devices & Services business, license Nokia's patents, and license and use Nokia's mapping services in a more than $7 billion deal.

And, also Monday, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) surprised investors when it said it will pay $130 billion for Vodafone Group's (Nasdaq: VOD) 45% stake in VZ's wireless venture.

Along with communications technology, several other sectors were noting strong movements this week, including solar stocks and dry bulk shipping. Solar stocks have soared since JPMorgan said today the industry has significant room for growth. Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE ADR: STP) shares were up about 2.2% in afternoon trade.

And dry bulk shippers like FreeSeas Inc. (Nasdaq: FREE), Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHIP), and Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (Nasdaq: EGLE) are noting big gains today as shipping rates strengthen. FREE is up 8%, SHIP is up 13%, and EGLE is up 7% as capesize shipping rates increased overnight by about 10%, exceeding $20,000 for the first time since January 2012.

Now on to today's main story for Money Morning members: There's a major slip coming in the U.S. housing market "recovery." Misleading reported numbers mean you might have missed the signs – unless you read this just-released update from our housing market expert Shah Gilani.

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