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Hess, General Motors, Amazon: Stocks That Defined the Week

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09/20/2019 | 05:33pm EDT

By Francesca Fontana

Hess Corp.

Energy stocks were among the only gainers Monday after weekend attacks on Saudi oil production facilities. Shares of U.S. energy companies surged, with Hess increasing 11%, Devon Energy adding 12% and Occidental Petroleum gaining 6%. Energy stocks have been crushed by low commodity prices and investors wary of oversaturated commodity markets. Saudi Arabia raced to restore crude production, as the attacks raised concerns about the security of supplies.

General Motors Co.

Early Monday, nearly 46,000 workers at General Motors walked off the job in the first strike at the auto maker in more than a decade, causing GM shares to fall 4.2%. The United Auto Workers called on employees to strike after negotiations for a new four-year labor agreement hit a standstill. Union negotiators are pressing the company to keep idled plants open, increase pay and benefits for less-senior workers and provide more job security for temporary workers. Industry analysts have estimated that the strike could dent GM's profit by between $50 million and $100 million daily. Companies that supply parts to GM have been forced to idle plants and lay off workers as the strike continues.

Amazon.com Inc.

Amazon.com's shares took a hit after The Wall Street Journal reported the e-commerce giant has adjusted its product-search system to more prominently feature listings that are more profitable for the company. The change, which the company hasn't publicized and which was contested internally for years, is particularly sensitive as the U.S. and the European Union are examining Amazon's dual role as both marketplace operator and seller of its own branded products. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has argued that Amazon stifles small businesses by unfairly promoting its private-label products and underpricing competitors; Amazon has disputed this claim. Amazon shares fell 1.7% Monday.

Walmart Inc.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in memos that Walmart likely discriminated against 178 female store workers by paying them less or denying them promotions because of their gender, The Journal reported Tuesday. The charges involve workers in more than 30 states. The EEOC documents ask Walmart and the women who filed complaints to come to a just resolution of the matter, which could include a settlement and changes to Walmart's practices, labor lawyers told the Journal. A Walmart spokesman said the company told the agency it is willing to engage in the conciliatory process. Shares rose 0.8% Tuesday.

FedEx Corp.

FedEx cut its earnings guidance, citing lower revenue projections for its global Express business, which caused the delivery giant's shares to fall the most in a decade on Wednesday. The slowdown for Express, which ferries packages and around the world by plane, is due in part to uncertainty around global trade. FedEx Chief Executive Frederick Smith said during the company's earnings call that the company had expected a resolution to the U.S. trade dispute with China as it entered its current fiscal year, but the "restoration of normalcy" it hoped for hasn't taken place. Shares plummeted 13% Wednesday.

General Mills Inc.

Investors lost their appetite for General Mills Wednesday, with shares losing 0.9% after the packaged-food maker extended its sales slump. The company has struggled to rejuvenate growth amid tougher competition from trendier products and less expensive store brands. The company said it has seen poor demand for brands such as Yoplait yogurt and Nature Valley granola bars. Still, General Mills has made some progress: U.S. cereal sales rose 1% in the quarter, and its yogurt sales in the U.S. were flat, compared with double-digit declines in the past. "It's about making sure we give consumers what they want," Chief Executive Jeff Harmening told the Journal.

AT&T Inc.

Could AT&T say goodbye to DirecTV? The telecom company is exploring parting with the unit, the Journal r eported late Wednesday. AT&T's shrinking satellite business is under a microscope after activist investor Elliott Management Corp. disclosed a $3.2 billion stake and pushed for strategic changes in a letter to AT&T's board. Elliott has told investors that AT&T should unload DirecTV, The Journal has previously reported, and people familiar with the matter told the Journal that AT&T's CEO met with Elliott's portfolio manager on Tuesday to discuss streamlining. Shares gained 1.1% Thursday.

Write to Francesca Fontana at francesca.fontana@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AMAZON.COM -1.12% 1765.73 Delayed Quote.17.56%
AT&T -0.16% 38.17 Delayed Quote.33.74%
DEVON ENERGY CORPORATION 2.12% 20.67 Delayed Quote.-8.30%
FEDEX CORPORATION 1.70% 154.63 Delayed Quote.-4.15%
GENERAL MILLS -2.70% 51.09 Delayed Quote.31.20%
GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY 1.06% 36.31 Delayed Quote.8.55%
HESS CORPORATION 2.49% 67.55 Delayed Quote.66.79%
LONDON BRENT OIL -0.57% 59.26 Delayed Quote.9.51%
OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION 3.43% 42.22 Delayed Quote.-33.50%
WALMART INC. -0.13% 119.58 Delayed Quote.28.55%
WTI -0.50% 53.96 Delayed Quote.18.22%
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