Monday August 14, 2017 – Friday August 18, 2017
On Monday, there wasn’t much economic news, however, cooler heads in the U.S. government prevailed and sought to reassure the public that war with North Korea wasn’t imminent and that the U.S. would continue pursing diplomatic solutions. Markets ended the day up strongly.
On Tuesday, retail sales for July grew .6%, exceeding expectations, on top of the prior month’s revised .3% gain. The Empire State manufacturing survey for August jumped sharply to 25.2, and import prices for July rose .1% while export prices rose .4%. Despite the good news, markets ended mostly unchanged as concerns of price wars among retailers dragged down retail stocks.
On Wednesday, housing starts for July fell 4.8% to 1.16 million units and housing permits fell 4% to 1.22 million. The EIA petroleum status report for the week ending August 11th showed U.S. crude inventory falling 8.9 million barrels. The Federal Reserve released minutes of its meeting last month and it revealed debate about when to begin unwinding the Fed’s balance sheet. Ultimately, due to lower than desired inflation, the issue was tabled until the next meeting in September. President Trump disbanded two business advisory councils due to backlash from corporate executives as a result of comments he made about violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. This renewed fresh concerns about the ability of the Trump administration to implement pro-business tax and policy changes.
On Thursday, jobless claims for the week ending August 12th fell 12,000 to 232,000 and industrial production for July rose .2%, slightly below expectations. Markets fell sharply as investors continued to be nervous about President Trump’s ability to work with Congress to pass business friendly laws, and a terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain added to the jitters. The Dow Industrials ended the day down 274 points.
On Friday consumer sentiment for August soared to 97.6, but markets opened lower. Now let’s take a look at some stocks.
Shares of Coach, Inc. (NYSE: COH) fell 13% Tuesday morning after it released its fourth quarter and full year reports. Total sales in North America were $586 million versus $606 million last year. Coach has been closing its less profitable retail spaces in department stores in a bid to increase the brand’s appeal.
Shares of L Brands, Inc. (NYSE: LB), parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works fell nearly 10% on Thursday after the company lowered its guidance for the full year by about 15 cents per share. Third quarter guidance of between 25 and 30 cents per share were below expectations of 36 cents a share.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) reported second quarter earnings for its 2018 fiscal year. Earnings per share included a charge of $0.17 for a loss on extinguishment of debt in connection with the company's recently completed debt tender offers. Net sales at Walmart International were $28.3 billion, a decrease of 1.0%. The company’s shares fell Thursday morning but recovered some losses throughout the day with over 17 million shares traded.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA) reported strong fiscal first quarter earnings with the company reaching 466 million annual active users on its China retail marketplaces, a 12 million increase year over year. Mobile active users increased to 529 million, a 22 million increase year over year. Daniel Zhang, Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group said, “Our technology is driving significant growth across our business and strengthening our position beyond core commerce.”