On Monday motor vehicle sales for December were 16.7 million, down 400,000 from the previous month. Geopolitical concerns remained high after the U.S. last week killed Iran’s top general, however, markets recovered and the Dow Industrials ended up 68 points. West Texas Intermediate crude fell slightly to $62.71 a barrel, and gold gained 1% to $1,567 an ounce.
On Tuesday factory orders for November fell .7% compared to the prior month’s .3% gain, and the ISM non-manufacturing index for December rose 1.1 points to 55, better than expectations. Markets fell modestly on concerns over potential retaliation by Iran against the U.S. and gold continued rising, ending at $1,574 per ounce, its highest price since 2013.
On Wednesday the ADP employment report for December estimated payroll growth of 202,000, higher than expected and the EIA petroleum status report for the week ending January 3rd saw crude oil inventory rise 1.2 million barrels. President Trump made comments suggesting that diplomatic solutions with Iran were now available, reducing fears of further military action and markets rallied strongly. The Nasdaq Composite closed at a record high.
On Thursday jobless claims for the week ending January 4th fell 9,000 to 214,000, better than expected. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran continued to drop and the U.S. and China are scheduled to sign a phase-one trade deal next week in Washington. With all the good news, the Dow Industrials surged 211 points while all three major indexes closed at record highs.
On Friday nonfarm payrolls for December slowed to 145,000, lower than expected, the unemployment rate remained unchanged, and average hourly earnings rose .1%, also lower than expected. At the opening markets ignored the disappointing news and rallied, with the Dow Industrials breaking 29,000 for the first time. Now let’s take a look at some stocks.
Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM) announced the acquisition of all issued and outstanding common shares of The Habit Restaurants, Inc. (NASDAQ: HABT) for $14 per share in cash or a total of $375 million. The board of directors of The Habit Burger Grill unanimously approved the transaction.
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) on Wednesday reported its results for its first quarter ending November 30th, 2019. Sales reached $34.3 billion, a 1.6% increase. Operating income amounted to $1 billion, a 27.6% decrease year over year. Walgreens shares fell over 5% on Wednesday and reached a low of $54.62 on Thursday.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) announced on Wednesday financial results for its third quarter. The company reported a net loss of $0.31 per diluted share. Net sales for the third quarter reached $2.8 billion, a decrease of 9% compared to a year ago. The company withdrew its fiscal 2019 full year financial guidance sending shares down over 19%, reaching a low $13.31 on Thursday post announcement.
Kohl’s Corporation (NYSE: KSS) reported on Thursday that comparable sales for its fiscal November and December 2019 fell 0.2% over the same period a year ago. Kohl’s adjusted its guidance to the bottom end of its previous guidance due to weak demand for women’s apparel during the holiday season. Shares of Kohl’s fell over 6% reaching a low of $44.61 on Thursday.
Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI) reported on Thursday its first quarter fiscal 2020 results. The company reported net sales of $834.7 Million, a 10.5% decrease compared to a year ago. Operating profit reached $83.6 million, down 28% from a year ago. Shares fell over 13% on Thursday, reaching a low $123.25.