Stocks edge higher…Retail sales rise…Industrial output slows…Strong report from Walmart
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are slightly higher in early trading on Wall Street amid indications that American consumers continue to spend and embrace online shopping. A report showing stronger-than-expected retail sales and a solid profit outlook from Walmart could allay some concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy. The yield on 10-year Treasury slipped slightly to 1.57% following a sharp decline yesterday.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumers spent more at retail stores and restaurants in July. The Commerce Department says retail sales rose a healthy 0.7% last month, after a 0.3% gain in June. Online retailers, grocery stores, clothing retailers and electronics and appliance stores all reported strong gains. Even department stores reported solid sales increases despite yesterday’s anemic earnings report by Macy’s.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Productivity increased at a decent pace in the second quarter. The Labor Department says productivity – or output per hour worked – rose 2.3% in the April-June quarter, down from 3.5% in the first three months of the year. The first quarter gain was the best in four years. If the trend continues, it could lead to higher wages. Greater productivity enables companies to lift worker pay without raising prices on costumers.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. industrial production fell 0.2% in July as factory activity slumped. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing production declined 0.4% last month. Output decreased for autos, fabricated metals, wood products, textiles and plastics and rubber products. Over the past 12 months, factory production has fallen 0.5%. Manufacturers’ struggles reflect a global softening in growth and President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs to escalate a trade war with China.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) – Walmart is raising its annual outlook after a strong second quarter due in part to strong online grocery deliveries. U.S. online sales increased 37%, driven by grocery sales. Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 2.8%, its 20th consecutive quarter in the right direction. The world’s largest retailer continues to hold enough sway to keep prices low even as its costs are rising and it’s pushing its online operations aggressively to counter Amazon.com.