Stocks mixed…Home building plunges…Walmart profit surges
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are mixed in early trading on Wall Street, a day after the market had its biggest jump in more than five weeks. Banks were posting the biggest losses in the early going, while technology companies kept up their winning streak. Earnings reports from major retailers showed how differently those companies are faring during the coronavirus pandemic. Walmart rose after reporting a surge in sales as people stocked up on crucial supplies as they sheltered in place. But Kohl’s, whose stores are closed, swung to a $541 million loss as its revenue fell more than 40%.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home building plunged again in April, taken down by economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that ground breakings plummeted 30.2% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000. Construction of single-family homes dropped 25.4% to an annual rate of 650,000. The lockdowns and travel restrictions designed to contain the pandemic have brought economic life to a near standstill. The unemployment rate is 14.7%, highest since the Great Depression. The construction slump is likely to continue. Building permits for new housing dropped 20.8% to an annual rate of 1.07 million.
NEW YORK (AP) – Walmart became a lifeline to millions of people as the coronavirus spread, and its profit and sales surged during the fiscal first quarter, topping almost all expectations. Online sales jumped 74%, fueled by a rush on canned foods, paper towels and other supplies as people sheltered in place. The company said Tuesday that same-store sales at its U.S. namesake stores surged 10%. áBut costs soared. The company spent $900 million in additional compensation for workers who manned checkout lines and kept goods flowing at warehouses. Walmart pulled its guidance for the year, citing the chaos of the pandemic.
ATLANTA (AP) – The cost of the spreading coronavirus pandemic dragged on profits early in the year at Home Depot. The world’s biggest home improvement chain upped compensation for employees, extended dependent care benefits and waived related co-pays. That set Home Depot back by $850 million in pre-tax expenses, or about 60 cents per share. The cost of sales rose 7.3% in the quarter, which surged 7.1% as homeowners rushed to pick up essential supplies. But on Tuesday, Home Depot pulled its financial guidance for the year with so much still unknown about the spread and duration of the virus, or its impact on spending.
OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) – A company in Baltimore has created “bumper tables” designed to keep people 6 feet from each other while eating and talking in social settings amid the coronavirus pandemic. News outlets report the inflated tube tables created by Revolution Event Design & Production were debuted at a restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday. The tables are designed with a hole in the middle to accommodate people around 4 to 6 feet tall. Participants can then move themselves around using the wheels attached to the bottom of the table. The company’s CEO says the tables are a fun way to maintain distance and still enjoy social settings.