Summary: Apple stock drags down Nasdaq; Samsung launches virtual reality headset; Auto sales latest confirmation of improving economy; Icahn sells Family Dollar stake-sources. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Global jitters kept stocks on edge. The major indexes closing out the day mixed- though the S&P 500 did hit a record intraday high amid hopes for some resolution to the Ukraine crisis. Weighing on the Nasdaq: Apple. Its shares dropped below $100 just one week before it's expected to unveil the new iPhone 6. The latest pressure point- rival Samsung launched a virtual reality headset for its Galaxy Note 4 phablet at a splashy global event. And Apple remains under scrutiny after private photos of celebrities stored in individual iCloud accounts were leaked online- though Apple says it was not at fault. Also driving stocks: strong economic data like new orders for manufactured goods- which increased to a record 10.5 percent in August. The Fed's Beige Book showed U.S. economic activity continued to expand in all 12 Federal Reserve regions in recent weeks. Another sign of an improving economy: auto sales came in much better than forecasts, thanks to heavy discounting and lower gas prices. Kelley Blue Book's Karl Brauer: SOUNDBITE: KARL BRAUER, SENIOR DIRECTOR, INSIGHTS, KELLEY BLUE BOOK (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The average consumer out there is feeling more confident. They are feeling better about how things look now and how things are going to look in the near term. You know you've got stabilized gas prices, you've got a fair amount of new models on the market that are very competitive. So you've got a really solid set of vehicles to choose from and you've got people who are in 11-plus year old cars. That is still the average age of a vehicle out there." Sources tell Reuters billionaire investor Carl Icahn has sold his entire stake in Family Dollar stores- for a profit of about $200 million. He's been pushing the company to sell itself, as of now the company is rejecting a bid by Dollar General, in favor of Dollar Tree. Drug developer Inifinity Pharmaceuticals rocketed higher on two deals it notched: one with AbbVie to develop a cancer drug and the other with Roche to test its experimental cancer drugs in combination with Roche's drug. Delta Air Lines fell after the airline cut its growth forecast for passenger unit revenue. The high-flying stock had more than doubled in the last 12 months. In Europe, stocks gained on speculation of a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.