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Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, Aug. 15:
1. -- U.S. stock futures continued to rise on Tuesday, Aug. 15, as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to ease.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has opted to freeze his planned attack on Guam, instead waiting for signs the U.S. is ready to "ease tensions," according to a state news service. The authoritarian nation had threatened U.S. territory Guam last week in retaliation to increasingly aggressive language from President Donald Trump.
In comments throughout last week, Trump promised "fire and fury" should North Korea continue to issue threats. On Friday morning, he tweeted that the U.S. military was "locked and loaded" in case of "unwise" actions by North Korea.
However, markets managed to shake off worries on Monday, Aug. 14, to post their best day in months. The S&P 500 gained 1% and the Nasdaq added 1.3%. It was the S&P 500's best day since a 1.08% increase on April 24 and the third best daily increase of the year.
"As long as the economic expansion continues, the markets are likely to recover from geopolitical related volatility," Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede, wrote in a note. "This eight-year bull market has coincided with geopolitical events such as the Arab Spring, fears of an European Union breakup, annexation of Crimea and the Greek Debt Crisis."
2. -- Dow component General Electric (GE) was slightly lower on Tuesday after billionaire Warren Buffett and his firm Berkshire Hathaway dropped its position in the company.
According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Berskhire sold all of its stake in GE, while reducing its position in Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) , Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (SIRI) , and International Business Machines Inc. (IBM) .
Prior to the end of March, Berkshire held more than 10 million GE shares, worth a total $315.4 million. The position was just a fraction of its $3 billion investment in preferred stock and warrants from October 2008, a time at the height of the financial crisis.
Berkshire also acquired a large stake in Synchrony Financial, the credit-card lender GE spun off in 2014. The $520.7 million position pushed Synchrony shares higher in premarket trading.
More than 90% of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings so far this quarter. Of those, nearly 74% have exceeded earnings estimates, while 68% have topped sales forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters data. The consumer staples and consumer discretionary sectors have been the smallest earnings growth this quarter, rising just 4.6% and 3.7%, respectively. That compares to an unparalleled 538.7% surge in energy earnings and a 16.3% increase in tech.
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