US markets demonstrated some relative strength yesterday closing largely unchanged in the face of weak domestic and international data and geopolitical challenges but looks set for a more cautious start today with all three major averages looking slightly lower ahead of the release of retail sales and consumer sentiment reports. Futures suggest: Dow Jones will open 16 points lower at 17,033 S&P 500 expected to open 1 point lower at 1,996 Nasdaq 100 to open 4 points lower at 4,088. Retail Sales are expected to show some improvement in August with consensus of a 0.3% growth, an improvement over the zero growth seen in July. Seasonally sales should be boosted by ‘back to school’ shopping so a bigger number might be needed to demonstrate the improved labour market and record high consumer confidence has finally started to translate into retail sales. With the FOMC decision and the vote in Scotland next week; the action in equities may be limited with traders perhaps turning towards the greater volatility in commodities which have been under pressure of late. Shares in the ADR of Chinese social media company Weibo shot up 13% yesterday on rumours of an Alibaba acquisition. Should Alibaba deny the deal those gains should quickly evaporate. Given that it’s in the middle of its IPO road show Alibaba may choose to respond so as to remove any doubts for potential buyers, any confirmation could well see more strength coming into Weibo depending on the scale of the offer. HP has announced an acquisition of cloud computing company Eucalyptus. HP is known to be on an acquisition spree to beef up its software division. Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos created MySQL and his heavy-hitting presence in the HP team should be interpreted well by investors for HP’s expansion into the sector. Sprint is shaking up the US mobile phone market by announcing a new unlimited flat-plan for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as well as a new leasing option for to pay for iPhones. The move should be good for Spint’s market share but has the potential to hit industry bottom lines and competitors T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T may come under pressure.