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China protests spread. Tensions continued to flare between China and Japan as protests reportedly coalesced in at least 100 Chinese cities in the wake of a recent territorial dispute - and on today's anniversary of the 1931 Manchurian Incident. The two countries' worst diplomatic crisis in years puts at risk a trade relationship estimated at $340B, though many investment observers think this too shall pass.

European stocks break lower. Stocks in Europe trade lower with oil majors leading the downward movement. Crude oil futures slipped a bit further after seeing a sharp tumble yesterday in late trading as speculation of a Strategic Petroleum Release whipped up. The euro weakened against major currencies with concerns about the ability of leaders to hash out a debt crisis resolution still a major backdrop. Chemicals firm Akzo Nobel fell 5% in Stockholm trading after saying its CEO would take a leave of absence until October.

Apple hits milestone on iPhone euphoria. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock touched $700/share in after-hours trade Monday, charged with initial sales results for the iPhone 5 that exceeded expectations: Over 2 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours, twice what Apple logged for the iPhone 4S. Now investors' attention looks ahead to the weekend, where another indicator could come from how many units are moved once the phone hits retail shelves.

Top Stock News
Ford banks on a game changer: Execs with Ford are out in full force this week to drum up support for the new 2013 Ford Fusion. The automaker would like to rattle the dominance of rivals Toyota and Honda in the mid-size market with its fully redesigned Fusion entry to end a 15-year drought since it last had the best-selling car in the U.S. It won't be easy, both Chrysler and Honda will be out soon with a credible challenger in the segment.

Dole to trim assets. Dole Foods (NYSE:DOLE) will cash out of its worldwide packaged foods and Asia fresh produce businesses by selling them both to Itochu to the tune of $1.69B. As part of the deal, Itochu will have trademark rights on packaged food products worldwide, as well as fresh produce in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The sale will allow Dole to streamline its operations to generate annual cash savings of $50M a year and recapitalize its debt structure. Shares jumped 3.7% in after-hours trading.

GE sees imaging business drop. A plan by General Electric (NYSE:GE) to put 85K workers on a high-deductible health care plan in order to lowers its mult-billion dollar health costs falls in line with the trend of other major corporations, but not with a painful side effect. The company's heath-care business has fallen off sharply as the use of advanced imaging including MRIs and CT scans slows down. By at least one estimate, spending on advanced imaging fell 28% over the last five years as more families are forced to cover the costs of the expensive service. It's a trend that GE will watch closely with close to 20% of its health care business tied to imaging.

Lenovo heads for the cloud. No. 2 global PC maker Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) makes its first software acquisition count, agreeing to buy Utah-based Stoneware to gain technology related to synchronizing data across mobile devices. Lenovo VP Mark Cohen says the company will use the acquisition to build a "public cloud" for consumers - and take on Apple's iCloud service.

Top Economic & Other News
Inflation eases in the U.K. The Office of National Statistics says inflation in the U.K. fell to 2.5% in August from a reading of 2.6% in July. The slight drop was partially due to smaller furniture and gas prices. If the trend holds, the Bank of England might have the momentum for a fresh round of stimulus later this year with the central bank's target inflation rate of 2% in sight.

The Fed weighs in on uncertainty: A study by the Federal Reserve concludes that the unemployment rate in the U.S. would only be 7% if there was more certainty about fiscal policy. Advisers to the San Francisco Fed say that because nominal interest rates have hit a floor, monetary policy makers are less able to counteract "uncertainty’s negative effect" on the economy.

Editors' Picks
Natural Gas: Is The Injection Season Already In The Rear View Mirror?
The Cyclical Battle: Chinese Demand Versus Speculation Junkies
Chipotle Mexican Grill: Well-Managed And Growing, But Price Matters

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.4%. Hong Kong -0.3%. China -0.3%. India -0.3%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.8%. Paris -1.1%. Frankfurt -1.1%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.3%. S&P -0.3%. Nasdaq -0.2%. Crude -0.4% to $96.2. Gold -0.6% to $1759.40.

Today's economic calendar:
7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:00 Fed's Evans: 'Perspectives on Current Economic Issues'
8:30 Current Account
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
9:00 Treasury International Capital
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
11:30 Fed's Dudley: 'Regional and National economic conditions'
6:15 PM Fed's Lacker: U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy

Notable earnings before today's open: FDX, SHF

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News