Stocks fall…Retail sales rise
UNDATED (AP) – Stocks are falling in morning trading on Wall Street, day after a broad rally snapped a three-day losing streak. The S&P 500 fell 0.9%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7% and the Nasdaq fell 1.4%. Technology and communications companies were the biggest weights on the market. Investors are keeping a close eye on the Russian troop buildup around Ukraine, and they’ve also got the Federal Reserve in focus. In the afternoon the Fed will release minutes from its latest policy meeting last month. Investors will be watching for clues about the next steps in raising interest rates to fight inflation. Crude oil prices rose 2.2%.
NEW YORK (AP) – Americans picked up the spending pace in January as the threat of omicron faded and there was some easing of supply shortages. Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 3.8% last month compared to the prior month when the number dropped a revised 2.5%. Sales at general merchandise stores rose 3.6% while department stores saw business up 9.2%. Online sales surged 14.5% The retail report released today covers only about a third of overall consumer spending and doesn’t include services such as haircuts, hotel stays and plane tickets.
UNDATED (AP) – For the first time in two years for many people, the American workplace is transforming into something that resembles pre-pandemic days. Tyson Foods said yesterday it was ending mask requirements for its vaccinated workers in some facilities. Last week, Walmart and Amazon said they’ll no longer require fully vaccinated workers to don masks in stores or warehouses unless required under local or state laws. Meanwhile, tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook that had allowed employees to work fully remote are now setting mandatory dates to return to the office after lots of fits and starts. That’s a stark reversal from just weeks ago when the omicron variant of COVID-19 was peaking. But the U.S. has seen COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations plummet in recent weeks.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – It’s not simple for Europe to plan sanctions against Russia in case it invades Ukraine. Sanctions would seek to maximize the pain for the Kremlin, its key banks and energy companies but also avoid jeopardizing the continent’s Russian-dependent energy supplies or inflicting too much damage on European companies with strong ties to Russia. Big European corporate names that do business in Russia include Germany’s Siemens AG, Italian tiremaker Pirelli and automakers like Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. Some European corporations have factories and major partnerships in Russia and hoping for a diplomatic solution. Some companies say their goals haven’t changed despite the tensions.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Leaders of the world’s most consequential energy bodies have gathered for a forum to discuss the uncertain future of oil. It comes as demand rebounds and prices climb to their highest in years even as nations pledge to transition to cleaner forms of energy. The forum on Wednesday, which included speakers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the International Energy Agency and the International Energy Forum, presented varying forecasts for oil demand. Yet from the outset, the wider debate on how the world should best transition away from so-called dirty fuels and other sources of carbon emissions that pollute the air played out as speakers gave their remarks.