U.S. stock futures were higher, ahead of this morning’s start of Fed’s two-day September meeting. Wall Street gave up strong Monday morning gains to close slightly lower. Apple (AAPL), which soared nearly 12 percent last week, was a drag on the market. (CNBC)
The Fed releases its policy statement and economic projections tomorrow afternoon, and central bank chair Janet Yellen holds a post-meeting news conference. Expectations are low for an interest rate hike, but December is at about 50 percent odds. (CNBC)
Perhaps overshadowing the Fed, the Bank of Japan also begins a two-day meeting today, with talk the central bank there could cut rates further into negative territory, but reduce purchases of long-dated bonds, while continuing to short-dated purchases. (CNBC)
SeaWorld (SEAS) suspends quarterly dividend. Bloomberg reports that SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., battling shrinking attendance at its theme parks, fell as much as 11 percent in extended trading after cutting its quarterly dividend by more than half and suspending future payouts.
Shareholders of record as of Sept. 29 will receive 10 cents a share, payable on Oct. 7, and then future payments will be stopped, SeaWorld said Monday in a statement. The previous dividend had been 21 cents. The company’s largest stockholder is Blackstone Group LP, which has a 22 percent stake. Halting the payments will let the company support the long-term development of the business, Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said in the statement. The shares have fallen 36 percent this year after Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld reported lower attendance and reduced its earnings guidance.
SeaWorld has battled an ongoing campaign by animal rights activists who say the company shouldn’t keep killer whales in captivity. After negativity publicity surrounding the whale documentary “Blackfish” and legislative efforts to halt breeding ate into attendance, SeaWorld said it would no long use the animals for entertainment-related shows and no longer mate them. (Bloomberg)
Chesapeake Energy (CHK)
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has reduced his stake in Chesapeake Energy to 4.6 percent, according to a Monday filing. Prior to the filing, the chairman of Icahn Enterprises had a 9.4 percent stake in the company.
“We believe that over the last few years Doug Lawler and his team have done an admirable job, especially in light of the circumstances. We reduced our position to recognize a capital loss for tax planning purposes,” Icahn said in a statement on his site.
The stock extended losses in late trading, falling nearly 2 percent after already tumbling 7 percent in the Monday session. The sales were made between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19. (Bloomberg)
New U.S. single-family home sales rose more than expected in June and unexpectedly rose in July, to their highest in nearly nine years, as demand increased broadly. Lennar said its orders, a key indicator of future revenue for homebuilders, rose to 7,018 homes from 6,495.
The company’s revenue rose 13.7 percent to $2.83 billion in the third quarter. Net income attributable to Lennar’s shareholders rose to $235.8 million, or $1.01 per share, from $223.3 million, or 96 cents per share.
Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 89 cents per share and revenue of $2.68 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Up to Monday’s close, shares of the Florida-based builder had fallen 7.8 percent this year. (CNBC)