In just two trading days, stocks are set to close out September and the third quarter in the red. Despite strong job growth, consumers are still dealing with higher prices and interest rates, as the Federal Reserve aims to bring inflation down to its target level. The end of the quarter also signals the start of earnings season, providing investors with a clearer picture of how companies view the state of the consumer heading into the holiday season.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is prepared to announce new strike locations if negotiations with automakers do not make significant progress. The strike began with three facilities and has since expanded to include dozens more across the country. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump both visited Michigan recently to rally support, with Biden appearing on a picket line with striking UAW workers. As of now, over 12% of UAW members are on strike.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms, persists in his belief in the metaverse, unveiling new artificial intelligence software, as well as the company’s Quest 3 virtual reality headset and Ray-Ban smart glasses. Zuckerberg expressed his belief that smart glasses will become widespread in the near future, as progress is made in holograms and displays. Meta and other Silicon Valley companies are engaged in an AI arms race, competing with the rapid rise of OpenAI and its ChatGPT program.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX secured its first Pentagon contract for its Starshield military satellite service. The contract includes end-to-end service through SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, as well as other equipment, network management, and related services. However, the contract has faced criticism due to Musk’s controversial ties to the Pentagon. Lawmakers have recently raised concerns after it was revealed that Musk denied Ukraine internet service that could have aided a potential drone attack on Russia’s navy.
Meanwhile, in the 2024 Republican primary race, Donald Trump skipped the debate, yet still managed to dominate the spotlight. Despite facing multiple criminal and civil cases threatening his business empire, Trump spoke at a rally in Michigan to gain support from blue-collar workers affected by the UAW strike. Several candidates for the nomination debated in California, but it is unlikely that these debates influenced the race or Trump’s standing as leading candidate.