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Inside Finance (Aug 5th, 2019)

1. Stocks are down today—way down. At last check, all major American indexes were down by more than two percent. The Nasdaq was leading losses with a dip of 3.3 percent. Unless something changes before the markets close, this will be the sixth-straight losing day for both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 (it'll be the fifth for the Dow). That's the longest losing streak for the Nasdaq since 2016. The last time August got off to this rough of a start for the S&P 500, the year was 2002. – CNN

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2. There are conflicting reports coming out of China today. President Trump is accusing the country of manipulating its currency—pushing it lower to make its exports cheaper and more competitive. The Chinese Yuan fell below a seven-to-one ratio for the first time in more than a decade this morning. But banking officials in China say they won't use the currency as a trade war tool. Separately, there are reports that China is suspending purchases from American agricultural sectors. Chinese officials say they are honoring trade agreements, even as state media reported that "Chinese related companies have suspended purchasing US agricultural products." – BLOOMBERG

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3. Two tragic mass shootings over the weekend claimed the lives of at least 31 people, and today, gun companies are enjoying stock gains. Even as the broader markets saw sharp downturns, gunmakers like Sturm Ruger & Co. and American Outdoor Brands Corp. saw significant gains. Like the mass shootings themselves, this stock trend isn't a new phenomenon. Analysts say high-profile shootings increase pressure on lawmakers to pass gun control laws, and gun enthusiasts splurge on guns to try to preempt any new restrictions. At last check, Sturm Ruger had dipped and lost the morning's gains, but American Outdoor Brands continued to see an increase of more than 1.2 percent. – MARKETWATCH

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4. Big companies and wealthy traders are sitting on huge piles of cash, as mounting trade pressures raise the possibility of a global recession. Analysts with Morgan Stanley think the recession could hit in as soon as nine months if President Trump follows through on his threat to impose a 25 percent tariff on all Chinese imports. The ultra-rich are taking note, and their cash piles have reached levels not seen since 2013. Instead of stocks, assets are shifting to real estate. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is also holding a record amount of cash ($122 billion), and the company sold more stock than it bought last quarter. – MARKETWATCH

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5. The so-called gig economy is shifting more workers and companies toward contract work, and it's drawing the attention of lawmakers. At least 10 senators are calling on Google to convert more of its contract workers into full-time employees. The push comes on the heels of an NYT report that found contract workers outnumber employees at Google. It isn't only Google. You may remember that last week's Inside Finance touched on Lowe's plan to outsource thousands of jobs. Those outsourced jobs will go to third-party contract workers. Similarly, Democratic 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg recently unveiled a plan to expand worker protections for contract employees. – CNBC

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6. Apple has released more details about its upcoming credit card. The customer agreement was posted late last week, providing a closer look at Apple's expansion into the finance world. The card is backed by Goldman Sachs, and it's expected to become available by the end of August. If you want one, there are some conditions you'll have to meet, including (obviously) owning an iPhone, and (less obviously) not using the card to buy cryptocurrency. – THE VERGE

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7. Video game stocks took an especially steep dive this morning after President Trump partially blamed video games for the mass shootings over the weekend. While major market indexes were down between two and three percent, major video game companies like Take-Two Interactive, Activision, and EA saw their stock prices fall by double that amount—or more. – INVESTING

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8. In yet another sign of possible economic complications in store for Britain, performers at a major festival are requesting payment in Euros and U.S. dollars. Fergus Linehan, director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, says performers are worried about the currency's volatility. The British Sterling has been falling generally since the Brexit vote in 2016, but the downturn has become sharper since new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been reiterating his willingness to crash out of the EU without a trade deal. – THE GUARDIAN

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9. Trade tensions are also brewing between two U.S. allies in East Asia. On August 28, Japan plans to remove South Korea from its list of fast-tracked trading partners. South Korea is also mulling over whether to pull out of an intelligence-sharing agreement with the U.S. and Japan. From a U.S. standpoint, the trade dispute between allies threatens to weaken its position as it continues to escalate a trade war with China. – NEWSWEEK

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10. This is the last week we'll see a flood of high-profile earnings reports for this quarter. Markets Insider put together a nice summary of all the major companies releasing new figures this week—including Disney, CVS, and Uber—and what to look for in the numbers. – MARKETS INSIDER

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Schuyler Durham writes Inside Finance. He’s a lifelong Portlander who got his start covering the local music scene, but later became enamored with the complexities of financial and political reporting. After three years in broadcast news, he's now diving back into the digital realm. You can keep up with his writing on Twitter at @SchuylerWriter or watch him goof around on Instagram at @bitterbuddha.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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