Stocks waver…Retail sales forecast…Slow growth in service companies
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks have wavered in afternoon trading, barely holding on to early gains following strong earnings reports from a range of U.S. companies, including several luxury retailers. Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder surged after reporting earnings that came in well ahead of what analysts were expecting. Both said they were seeing better sales in Asia. That was an encouraging sign for investors, who have been worrying in recent weeks that growth in China’s economy was cooling off.
NEW YORK (AP) – The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is forecasting that retail sales could grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent to more than $3.8 trillion this year as shoppers remain in a mood to spend in a strong economy. The forecast is nearly in line with the 4.6 percent gain the group estimated for 2018.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. service companies grew in January at the slowest pace in six months, amid concern over the impact of the partial government shutdown on the economy. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reports that its service index fell to 56.7 percent last month, down from 58 percent in December. The January reading was the lowest since July 2018.
DALLAS (AP) – Exxon Mobil is making a big bet on the future of exporting natural gas. Exxon and Qatar Petroleum announced today that they will go ahead with a $10 billion project to expand a liquefied natural gas export facility on the Texas Gulf Coast. Exxon says construction will start before April and the plant in Sabine Pass, Texas, is expected to begin running in 2024.
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – The U.S. Justice Department says the maker of HondaJet aircraft violated immigration laws by refusing to consider certain non-U.S. citizens for jobs despite their legal right to work in the country. Honda Aircraft Co. said today it has changed policies and procedures to ensure job postings comply with both anti-discrimination laws and trade restrictions affecting industries with potential military uses.