It's time to get back to work after a somewhat late Labor Day. With summer unofficially over, many folks have begun taking a closer look at the markets again. In case you haven't tuned in yet, though, let's revisit seven events that thumped the financial world last week.

1. Black gold . Texas tea
What happened? After years of fruitless deepwater testing in the Gulf of Mexico, industry stalwart Chevron (NYSE:CVX) may have found a temporary solution to our growing dependence on foreign oil. According to The Wall Street Journal, the oil discovery in the Gulf could boost domestic energy production by as much as 50%. If so, this would be the largest American oil discovery since the North Slope fields in Alaska were discovered.

What does it mean for your portfolio? Consumers are jumping for joy. But should they? A domestic surge in production is great, though we're still needy when it comes to foreign crude -- 66% of our consumed oil comes from foreign sources. On the other hand, chemical manufacturers such as Dow (NYSE:DOW) and DuPont, which heavily rely on oil as a raw material, can greatly reduce their costs from an increased supply. Look to them to take advantage of this discovery. The bottom line is that added domestic capacity can help offset our exposure to volatile international markets, but to secure greater energy independence, America still needs to increase domestic production even more or work on improving reliable alternatives.

2. In case you didn't notice, we're in a slump
What happened? Recent data from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (link opens a PDF) confirms the widely held belief that the housing market is slumping. Released on Sept. 5, the report finds that the increase in the quarterly rate of appreciation is the smallest since 1975 -- a pitiful gain of only 1.17%!

What does it mean for your portfolio? We may not be seeing an actual decline in the value of American homes yet, but the threat still looms. Everyone can at least agree that we are now in the middle of a major correction in the housing market. Homebuilders such as Pulte Homes and Centex will probably continue their six-month slide. Will they bottom out? Hey, we can't call tops or bottoms, but they may become an interesting value play.

3. Nasdaq likes its options
What happened? On Sept. 7, representatives at Nasdaq announced plans to introduce a market specializing in equity and index options. It will roll out approximately one year from now.

What does it mean for your portfolio? In addition to offering investors more options, literally, this move should provide some interesting competition for the likes of the International Securities Exchange and the NYSE Group's (NYSE:NYX) Arca options exchange. Nasdaq can reap gains over its competitors by using the same high-performance technological platform it developed for its stock exchange, so Fools who play the options game can potentially seek greater execution efficiency from this Nasdaq platform.

4. DivX goes legit
What happened? DivX, an Internet company that is emerging out of a highly questionable past, has decided to go public as of Sept. 18 and work with mainstream software manufacturers.

What does it mean for your portfolio? If you haven't heard of DivX, you're probably an upstanding citizen who hasn't been illegally downloading movies. Kudos to you. However, DivX has pioneered decompression technology, which allows computer files -- especially large ones, like movies -- to be squeezed down, easily transported over the Net, and then reopened and viewed by the end user. This might not be an Earth-shattering transition, but watch to see how it might affect Netflix (Nasdaq; NFLX). DivX has mastered the ability to allow individuals to download and watch movies over the computer, and if it effectively partners with software and movie producers, it might pose a danger to Netflix's revenue stream.

5. Still suffering five years later?
What happened? With the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks upon us, a recent New York Times/CBS news poll wanted to gauge Americans' mood. The results showed that we have returned to a sense of normality following the devastation of the World Trade Center. The poll suggests that among those outside New York City, 22% of people are very concerned about a terrorist attack, down from 39% five years ago. Conversely, 39% feel less safe than they did five years ago, as opposed to 14% who feel safer.

What does it mean for your portfolio? Americans are not letting concerns over terrorism stop them from vacationing. The Times has reported that Americans are traveling to Europe at numbers not seen since 2000 -- the recent tally standing at 13.12 million. Look to Air France-KLM -- up 44% since June 13 -- and other flyers to continue to profit nicely during this resurgence of air travel, despite concerns over terrorism.

6. Shorter lines at the unemployment office, for now
What happened? The feds have reported that unemployment is down to a seven-week low. But when you weigh that news against a 5% year-over-year increase in unit labor costs for this quarter and a slowing economy, it doesn't sound as good.

What does it mean for your portfolio? We can probably anticipate some more layoffs at companies whose payroll expenses exceed available resources -- much like the downsizing we saw at Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) this past week. These companies are dealing with the high payroll-expense hike they incurred beginning in 1990, and they can't justify keeping things the way they are in the long term, given current rates of growth. Employment numbers may look positive for now, but I think it is reasonable to say that the picture may not be so glowing in the months to come, with a current yield curve that continues to look worrying. (Read more on the yield curve and on current rates.)

7. Microsoft plays cat-and-mouse with the EU
What happened? Software megagiant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) warned investors that it might need to delay its arrival of the Vista operating system in the European Union because of continuing disputes over antitrust issues.

What does it mean for your portfolio? Either way, the new Vista system will replace Windows XP across the board and should provide Microsoft a boost to its sagging profit margins. This tussle with the EU is nothing new and probably will be resolved before it harms Microsoft to any great extent. But there's a clear pattern of mistrust and mutual dislike evident between European litigators and the Redmond, Wash., company. Clearly, the EU has no intention of letting Microsoft steamroll its way across the European corporate software industry.

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Fool contributor Nick Kapur does not own shares of any stocks mentioned above, and he promises that he does not download movies illegally. Intel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.