Stock market news: September 4, 2019

Stocks rebounded during Wednesday’s session after investors cheered Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s decision to withdraw the extradition bill that triggered months of violent protests.

Here is where the market settled after the close Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +1.08%, or 31.51 points

  • Dow (^DJI): +0.91%, or 237.45 points

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +1.30%, or 102.72 points

  • Crude oil (CL=F): +4.49% to $56.36 per barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +0.49% to $1,563.60 per ounce

Stocks held most of the day’s gains after the release of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, which found the economy continued to expand at a “modest pace” despite growing uncertainty from the U.S.-China trade war.

"Although concerns regarding tariffs and trade policy uncertainty continued, the majority of businesses remained optimistic about the near-term outlook," the central bank wrote, in advance of its Sept. 17-18 policy decision.

After a tough trading session Tuesday, markets rebounded Wednesday after Hong Kong stocks surged following news that legislation that allowed extraditions to China was pulled. The Hang Seng (^HSI) closed 4% higher on the back of the news. The formal withdrawal of the extradition bill is expected to finally put an end to the devastating protests that have been plaguing Hong Kong since June.

In addition, the Brexit drama across the pond continued as rebel lawmakers voted to seize control over the parliamentary agenda in a huge blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The group is attempting to push through a bill that would block a no-deal Brexit by the deadline of October 31. Members of Parliament (MP) voted 328 to 301 in favor of debating the bill, and Johnson tweeted that he was determined to get the U.K. out of the European Union (EU).

The lawmakers will try to force Johnson to request a Brexit extension until January 2020 if he is unable to reach a deal with the EU by the middle of October.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at the opening bell on August 19, 2019 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded over 300 points higher at the open on Monday morning. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

STOCKS: Kroger, Walmart ask customers to stop carrying guns in stores; Activist investor bets on Box

Retail giants Kroger (KR) and Walmart (WMT) have officially asked their customers to stop carrying guns in their stores even in states that legally allow it. Walmart was the first to make a surprise announcement on its new gun policies Tuesday afternoon. CEO Doug McMillon sent a company-wide email outlining the retailers revised gun policies following two deadly shootings earlier this year at Walmart stores in El Paso, Texas and Southhaven, Mississippi. Walmart plans to stop selling two different kinds of short-barrel rifle ammunition and will completely stop selling handgun ammunition. The retailer also announced that it would be stopping the sale of handguns altogether in Alaska, which was the last state where handguns were sold in Walmart stores. Walmart currently commands about 20% of the total ammunition market share, but with the new move will bring down that market share to about 6% to 9%.

“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand. As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” McMillon said. Finally, Walmart asked its customers to respectfully stop carrying firearms opening in its stores.

On the heels of Walmart’s request, Kroger also formally asked its customers to hold off from carrying guns openly in its stores. Though it is not an official ban, Kroger is also attempting to use its influence to promote gun reform. “Kroger is respectfully asking that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores, other than authorized law enforcement officers,” Jessica Adelman, group vice president of corporate affairs, said in a statement. “We are also joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws that will strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have been found to pose a risk for violence.”

Meanwhile, activist investor Starboard is betting on struggling software company Box (BOX). Shares of Box soared Wednesday after Starboard revealed a 7.5% stake, which makes it one of the largest investors in Box. The tech company has not been able to meet sales growth expectations and has been underperforming this year. The stock is down about 12% so far this year, while the broader market is up 17% in the same time period. Starboard will likely look to shake things up at the company, from strategy to even Box’s leadership.

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Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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