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Stock market close, Sept. 4, 2014: U.S. stock markets slipped this afternoon, erasing this morning's gains after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 hit record intraday highs earlier in the trading session. The markets moved swiftly into the black this morning on news that the European Central Bank planned to slash its short-term lending rate to banks to a record low of 0.05%. Europe continues to seek prescriptions to increasing deflation, economic stagnation, and concerns about its trading levels.
The markets turned into the red after new concerns about the U.S. labor force emerged just two days before the release of the August unemployment level. In addition, a major court ruling hammered the U.S. energy sector.
Here's the scorecard from today's stock market close:
Dow: 17,069.58, -8.70 (-0.05%)
Nasdaq: 4,562, -10.28 (-0.22%)
S&P 500: 1,997.65, -3.07 (-0.15%)
Now, here are the top stories from the stock market today:
- A Big Blow: Energy stocks were delivered a huge blow this afternoon after a federal judge ruled that BP Plc. (NYSE ADR: BP) was "grossly negligent" for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig oil spill that pummeled the Gulf of Mexico. The ruling could tack on significant fines to the already $42 billion in charges that the company has taken since the spill occurred. Shares of the oil producer slipped more than 5.5% on the news and dragged down a number of multinational rivals in the process. The judge has yet to make a ruling on how much money the company must pay for violating the federal Clean Water Act, but some estimates place the new damages as high as $18 billion.
- Apple Troubles: Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) dipped again by nearly 1% this afternoon, one day after the company saw shares tumble more than 4% on news of a possible data breach that affected the iCloud. Yesterday's downturn erased more than $26 billion in market share. According to multiple reports, several A-list female celebrities, who had private photographs hacked, are considering legal action over the breach. Apple and home improvement retailer The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) are both currently dealing with high-profile privacy breaches, with the latter currently working with the U.S. Secret Service to deal with the problem. But in spite of Apple's recent woes, here's what's going to supercharge AAPL stock to new highs…
- Settled: Tech giant Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG, GOOGL) has agreed to refund parents more than $19 million for unauthorized in-app purchases made by children who played games on mobile devices. The tech industry is still trying to discover ways to safeguard these purchases. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement. The agency has been highly involved in in-app purchases and is pushing the company to increase security protocols to reduce unauthorized charges. In July, the FTC sued Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) on the same matter.
- The Tensions Rise: On the international front, the United States and Europe are preparing even more sanctions against the Russian economy and its interests as geopolitical tensions in Ukraine heighten. Deputy White House National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told a pool of reporters this morning that Russia must face the consequences for escalating the crisis in eastern Ukraine. According to The Telegraph, reporters were shown a three-page document that outlined the new sanctions. The most damaging line from the document allegedly states "all state-controlled Russian oil and defense companies will be banned from raising funds in European capital market."
- Supersized Protests: Thousands of fast-food workers protested in more than 150 cities this afternoon, demanding higher wages. According to reports, more than 400 gathered in Times Square alone, leading to multiple arrests and stalled traffic. Workers are demanding at least $15 per hour in pay, and their protests target employers that include McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD), Burger King Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: BKW), The Wendy's Co. (Nasdaq: WEN), and Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM), which owns KFC restaurants. This afternoon, Momentum Machines, an automation and engineering firm in San Francisco, boosted marketing of its do-everything fast-food production machine. The technology can produce 360 fully prepared burgers in an hour and effectively replace the production of several fast-food workers.
Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading – for Money Morning Members only: