Amazon Makes a Big Move on Minimum Wage

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Amazon is raising its minimum wage for all employees to $15, a bump that could have implications throughout the US workforce. The raise, effective at the start of next month, will cover 250,000 workers and 100,000 seasonal employees, reports the Wall Street Journal. The company has been under fire from critics—notably Bernie Sanders—for making a fortune while paying its warehouse workers so little that they often need federal assistance, notes CNN. Amazon says it will also lobby to have the federal minimum wage increased from its current $7.25 per hour.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,“ says CEO Jeff Bezos, who Reuters notes is the richest man in the world with a net worth of $150 billion. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.“ The move comes amid a national push to have fast-food restaurants and other blue-collar employers pay workers $15 an hour. Target, for example, plans to reach that figure by 2020, and Disneyland and Disney World by 2021. Walmart, which has 1 million workers, raised its minimum wage to $11 earlier this year.

U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, August 2018

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The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced today that the goods and services deficit was $53.2 billion in August, up $3.2 billion from $50.0 billion in July, revised.

August exports were $209.4 billion, $1.7 billion less than July exports. August imports were $262.7 billion, $1.5 billion more than July imports.

U.S. Market Weekly Summary - – Week Ending 10.05.2018

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1.0% this week, starting October and Q4 on a weak note as a tumble in consumer-discretionary stocks along with declines in a number of other sectors outweighed gains in energy, utilities, financials and industrials.

The market benchmark ended the week at 2,885.57, down from last week’s closing level of 2,913.98.

The decline came as September employment data released Friday showed the unemployment rate fell in September to 3.7%, its lowest level since 1969 and lower than economists’ prediction for a 3.8% rate, but US nonfarm payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 134,000, weaker than the 180,000 gain economists had expected and representing the smallest increase in a year.

The employment data were seen by the market as keeping the Federal Open Market Committee on track to gradually lift rates. Investors are concerned about the impact on the US economy and stocks.

The consumer-discretionary sector had the largest percentage drop of the week, down 4.4%, followed by a 2.7% decline in real estate and drops of 2.2% each in technology and telecommunications. On the upside, utilities and energy rose 1.9% each, followed by a 1.5% rise in financials and a 0.8% gain in industrials.

The consumer-discretionary sector’s decliners included Lennar (LEN), which fell 4.1% on the week despite the homebuilder’s Wednesday report of better-than-expected fiscal Q3 results. RBC Capital Markets cut its price target on Lennar’s stock after the report as the firm lowered its estimates for the homebuilder’s fiscal 2018 orders and 2019 earnings per share, citing “non-core items and ancillary businesses.“

In the technology sector, this week’s decliners included IPG Photonics (IPGP), whose stock fell 15% as the provider of high-power fiber lasers and amplifiers issued a warning it expects revenue for Q3 to be between $355 million and $356 million, below its previous guidance range of $360 million to $390 million.

On the upside, the energy sector was boosted by gains in crude-oil futures as the oil market anticipated the spare capacity needed to replace Iranian barrels next month. Shares of Chevron (CVX) rose 2.5% on the week.

The utilities sector’s gains came as the sector typically benefits when investors are seeking the safety of services that are seen as necessary regardless of the economy. The gainers included FirstEnergy (FE), whose shares rose 2.2% this week as Citigroup raised its price target on the stock to $37 per share from $34.

Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment (Monthly)

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August jobless rates down over the year in 340 of 388 metro areas; payroll jobs up in 60

Jobless rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 340 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 35, and unchanged in 13.

Nonfarm payroll employment was up in 60 metropolitan areas over the year and essentially unchanged in 328.

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