Futures were higher Wednesday morning, but U.S. equities markets are coming off a rough Tuesday as September limps toward its last days of trading. All three major indices fell over 1%. The Dow had its worst day since March. It was just one of those days where nothing felt right. New home sales plunged in August, Amazon was hit with a big antitrust lawsuit (more below) and the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell more than expected. Follow live market updates.
2. FTC accuses Amazon of monopoly
The Federal Trade Commission filed a long-expected lawsuit against Amazon in federal court, accusing the e-commerce giant of using “monopoly power” to stifle competition. The agency, along with 17 states, said Amazon unlawfully uses anti-discounting measures to keep sellers from advertising lower prices, while also pretty much forcing sellers to use Amazon’s “costly” fulfillment services. Amazon is geared up for the fight. “If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses — the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do,” said Amazon’s general counsel.
3. Back to the keyboards
Hollywood’s writers are allowed to work again. The union representing the scribes, the Writers Guild of America, and the group representing the studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, unveiled the terms of their deal, which brought an end to a strike that helped shut down showbiz for nearly 150 days. The agreement includes pay increases, some protections against artificial intelligence, expanded contributions to health and pension plans, and residual payments from streaming. While writers can start working, the actors’ union remains on strike, and production on narrative films and television shows will remain at an effective standstill until that’s resolved.
4. ‘Union Joe’ joins the picket line
President Joe Biden showed off his pro-union bona fides Tuesday, joining striking auto workers on a picket line in Michigan. “Stick with it. You deserve a significant raise and other benefits,” Biden said through a bullhorn to a crowd of United Auto Workers members, including President Shawn Fain. “We saved them, it’s about time they step up for us.” Michigan is a key state for Biden’s reelection hopes next year. He won it by a narrow margin in 2020, while his likely rival, former President Donald Trump, won it in a close contest in 2016. Trump is headed to Michigan on Wednesday. Only, he’ll be speaking at an auto supplier whose workers aren’t represented by the UAW.
5. Target closes stores, citing crime
Target said it would close nine stores in cities such as New York, Portland and San Francisco, saying crime and violence at the locations forced its hand. The big box retailer has blamed some of its recent woes on what’s known as “shrink,” losses from lost, stolen and damaged merchandise. Retail theft has been a big part of that, Target has said. Yet while Target and other retailers increasingly blame organized retail crime for losses, theft hasn’t risen all that much compared to historical norms, according to a survey by industry group the National Retail Federation.
— CNBC’s Mike Calia wrote this newsletter. Hakyung Kim, Lauren Feiner, Annie Palmer, Sarah Whitten, Emma Kinery, Melissa Repko and Gabrielle Fonrouge contributed.
— Follow Squawk Pod for the best conversations and analysis from Squawk Box in a curated, daily podcast.