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TheStreet Open House

Stock Futures Cautious While Apple Gains Ground

Stock quotes in this article: ^DJI, ^GSPC, ^IXIC, AAPL, JCP, DG, HAIN

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were trading cautiously Wednesday as investors remained on edge on increasing signs of support for U.S. military intervention in Syria.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2.25 points, or 1.32 points below fair value, to 1,636.75. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were falling 30 points, or 23.96 points below fair value, to 14,797. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 4.75 points, or 0.06 points below fair value, to 3,091.25.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee members on Tuesday evening negotiated a proposal to implement a deadline of 60 days for U.S. military strikes against Syria. It also includes the possibility of one extension of 30 days. The panel is expected to vote Wednesday on the draft resolution allowing U.S. military action in Syria. If it is passed, the full Senate will cast votes the following week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, said in a TV interview in Moscow that he hasn't ruled out supporting a U.S.-led military strike provided there is more evidence of chemical attacks carried out by Bashar al-Assad's government.

In economic news, the U.S. trade deficit widened to $39.1 billion in July from a downwardly revised $34.5 billion in June amid higher non-petroleum imports, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

"Overall, despite the disappointing headline print, the improvement in non-petroleum imports offers an encouraging glimpse on the tone of domestic demand and U.S. economic activity more generally," Millan Mulraine, a senior economist at TD Securities in New York, wrote in a note. "Nevertheless, the weakness in global demand continues to underscore the weak global backdrop that continues to be fairly unsupportive to U.S. growth."

U.S. mortgage applications rose by 1.3% in the week of Aug. 31 from the previous week thanks to a dip in interest rates, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

At 2 p.m. EDT, the Fed will release its September Beige Book of anecdotal findings on economic conditions from each of the Fed's 12 districts. The report will arrive about two weeks before the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

August auto and truck sales numbers are expected at 2 p.m. from the Commerce Department.

Also, some Fed members are expected to speak Wednesday. At 12:30 p.m., San Francisco Fed Bank President John Williams will begin speaking about the economy and monetary policy in Portland, Oregon.

Beginning at 8 p.m., Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota will appear at a town hall forum in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

A handful of stocks were in focus Wednesday.

Apple (AAPL) shares were climbing 2.02% to $498.23 in premarket trading. The tech giant sent invites for an event in California on Sept. 10, presumably to announce the iPhone 5S. Now, it's sent out an invite for the day after, in China. The event in China is scheduled to take place at Beijing's World Trade Center, and it's important since this is the first time Apple has ever held an event specifically for the Chinese media.

J.C. Penney (JCP) shares were advancing 2.2% to $13. Glenview Capital Management said in a filing on Tuesday after the markets closed that it more than doubled its ownership of J.C. Penney shares. The hedge fund now owns 20.1 million shares, or a 9.1% stake, in J.C. Penney, making Glenview the largest shareholder in J.C. Penney shares.

Shares gained 1.9% to $12.72 on Tuesday after Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital Management revealed in a filing that his firm owns 11.4 million shares, or a 5.2% passive stake, in the troubled retailer.

Dollar General (DG) was gaining 3.93% to $56 after the discount retailer beat second-quarter estimates by three cents at 77 cents a share and reported revenue that also topped estimates as same-store sales increased 5.1%, helped by its decision to sell more groceries and brand-name products.

Hain Celestial Group (HAIN) was shedding 3.52% to $79 after Carl Icahn cut his stake in the company by more than half, the natural foods maker said Tuesday. Hain said certain shareholders, including entities related to Icahn, plan to sell 3.65 million common shares of the company.

Following the sale, Icahn will own about 3.59 million shares in Hain, or 7.5% of the company. The stake is less than half the 15.3% stake Icahn reported in the company as of June 30, according to Reuters. Hain shares rose 10 cents on Tuesday to $81.88.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury declined by 6/32, raising the yield to 2.874%. The dollar was rising 0.09% to $82.28 according to the U.S. dollar index.

The FTSE 100 was slipping 0.56% and the DAX in Germany was giving up 0.54%. The Nikkei 225 in Japan gained 0.54%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 0.31%.

December gold futures were off $6.80 to $1,405.20 an ounce. October crude oil futures were down by 85 cents to $107.69 a barrel.

The S&P posted a choppy session Tuesday that witnessed a pop at the open on upbeat global manufacturing reports and a slew of deals and managed to eke out gains after the markets later became jittery from comments from President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Secretary of State John Kerry about a military strike on Syrian government targets.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.>

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