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Stocks Gain, Apple Preps Launch Event, Nicholas Pounds Texas Coast - 5 Things You Must Know

Stock futures higher ahead of inflation data; Apple closes security loophole ahead of launch event; Fox buys TMZ from AT&T and Hurricane Nicholas pounds the Texas coast.

Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, September 14:

1. -- Stock Futures Higher Ahead of Inflation Data

Wall Street futures edged higher again Tuesday, following the snapping of six-day losing streak for the Dow and the S&P 500 last night, as investors hunker down for a key reading of August inflation prior to the opening bell.

With companies from Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report to Macy's  (M) - Get Macy's Inc Report to 3M Co.  (MMM) - Get 3M Company Report cautioning on the impact of supply chain disruptions and rising input costs, factory gate inflation is holding at the highest levels in 13 years. Consumer prices, as well, have been soaring past forecasts to the fastest in a decade, putting added pressure on the Federal Reserve's narrative that they'll begin to ease over the first few months of next year. 

A hot August reading could compel the Fed to announce the tapering the pace of its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases as early as next week, while a cooling of inflation pressures could give Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues another month or two of breathing room to monitor incoming data and the pace of domestic COVID infections. 

With data due at 8:30 am Eastern time, and reports noting lockdown orders for the Chinese industrial city of Xiamen amid  a new COVID outbreak, investors are taking few risks heading into the start of trading.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a modest 25 point opening bell gain while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 3 point boost. Nasdaq Composite futures are set for a 5 point dip. 

Oil prices were also moving higher, taking Brent crude prices to a fresh six-week peak, as Hurricane Nicholas looks to add further disruption to drilling installations in the Gulf of Mexico, following damage from Hurricane Ida, as it makes landfall along the Texas coastline.

2. -- Apple Hit By Security Concerns Ahead of 'California Streaming' Launch Event

Apple suffered a significant security embarrassment Monday, just hours ahead of its flagship product launch event in Cupertino, California, after an Israeli cyber surveillance firm unveiled a method to hack into iPhones without any user interaction.

Apple, which confirmed the vulnerability late Monday, updated its iOS operating system to close the hack loophole, but the revelation will add focus to the tech giant's "California Streaming" launch event that includes a new operating system -- iOS  15 -- alongside a new suite of smartphones expected to be dubbed "iPhone 13". A new series of AppleWatch is also expected from the launch event, which begins at 10:00 am Pacific time.

Apple shares were marked 0.3% higher in pre-market trading Tuesday to indicate an opening bell price of $150.00 each.

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3. -- Oracle Slides As Cloud Sales Fall Shy of Forecasts

Oracle  (ORCL) - Get Oracle Corporation Report shares slid lower Tuesday after the cloud computing and software group posted weaker-than-expected first quarter sales that offset solid profits and a firm near-term outlook.

Oracle, the world's second-largest software maker behind Microsoft MSFT, said sales for the three months ending in August rose 3.8% from last year to $9.73 billion, just shy of analysts' forecasts. Cloud services and license revenues, its key growth driver, rose 6% to $7.4 billion, but didn't assuage investor concerns that cloud rivals like Microsoft and Amazon are taking some of Oracle's hoped-for market share. 

Still, the Austin, Texas-based tech group sees current quarter sales rising between 3% and 5% from last year, with earnings in the range of $1.09 to 1.13 per share.

Oracle shares were marked 1.84% lower in pre-market trading Tuesday to indicate an opening bell price of $87.25 each, a move that would still leave the stock with a six-month gain of around 30%.

4. -- Fox Buys TMZ In $50 Million Media Deal

Fox Entertainment, a division of Rupert Murdoch's Fox Corp  (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Class A Report media empire, closed the purchase of Los Angeles-based celebrity news platform TMZ late Monday for an estimated $50 million from AT&T  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report.

TMZ founder and managing editor Harvey Levin will remain with group and continue to run its day-to-day operations.

“The unique and powerful brand Harvey has created in TMZ has forever changed the entertainment industry and we’re excited to welcome them to Fox,” said Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch. “‘TMZ’ has been an impactful program for our Fox television stations and broadcast partners for many years and I know Jack Abernethy and Charlie Collier will find creative ways to utilize and expand this content in effective and compelling ways for our audiences.”

5. -- Hurricane Nicholas Pounds Gulf Coast 

Hurricane Nicholas made landfall on the Texas coast last night, packing 75-mile-per-hour winds and hammering portions of the Gulf region that were still picking through the debris of Hurricane Ida just two weeks ago.

Nicholas, which the National Hurricane Center has now deemed a Tropical Storm with windspeeds of 70 miles-per-hour, was last placed around 35 miles north of Freeport, Texas and heading towards the metropolitan area of Houston. 

A state of emergency was declared for Louisiana by President Joe Biden, as more than 90,000 people -- and a further 230,000 in Texas -- were left without power.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbot declared states of emergency for 17 counties, and cautioned that Nicholas would be 'a very slow-moving storm across the state of Texas that will linger for several days and drop a tremendous amount of rain."