Shares of retailers and other consumer-services companies rose after President Donald Trump delayed the latest round of tariff increases.
Retailers soon could be forced to raise prices because of tariffs or face profit-margin compression. August consumer-price inflation showed an increase of 0.3% in prices, excluding the volatile categories of food and energy.
One brokerage warned that the jobs market, which has underpinned strong consumer confidence for some years, is showing signs of weakness. "Part of the story is that the labor market is beginning to reach full capacity, naturally slowing the reduction of slack and the pace of job growth," said analysts at brokerage Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research, in a note to clients. "However, complicating matters is the U.S.-China trade war that has taken some steam out of the economy. Consequently, businesses have pulled back on employment activity both in hiring and hours worked."
Gap's Old Navy brand plans to open hundreds of stores as the discount label capitalizes on its popularity and prepares to split from its parent company, which is struggling with sales growth in line with other bricks-and-mortar chains.
Shares of Kroger were more or less flat after the supermarket chain posted a slight increase in sales for the latest quarter.
British American Tobacco, which makes Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes, plans to cut thousands of jobs in a restructuring aimed at boosting the growth of new products as traditional cigarette volumes decline.
Shares of Altria have been volatile this week, as investors attempt to gauge the implications of limits on e-cigarette flavors on the company's investment in "vape" company Juul.
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