France’s embattled President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday defended fuel tax hikes that have prompted nationwide protests, but called for “dialogue” to calm tensions and more in Wednesday’s Markets In Brief.
In his first comments about the protests since more than a quarter million French drivers blocked roads Saturday, Macron acknowledged that it’s “normal” that people are expressing frustration.
He said he’s trying to “change habits” by weaning the French off fossil fuels, “which is never simple.” He reiterated promises of subsidies for low-income households to buy cleaner cars or switch to cleaner home heating methods.
He didn’t comment on protest violence. One protester was killed in a road accident Saturday and hundreds were injured.
Scattered protests continued Tuesday on roads across France by drivers who dub themselves the “yellow jackets” for the neon vests they don during roadside emergencies.
Macron, whose popularity has been sinking, was speaking at a university debate in Belgium, where student protesters unfurled a banner and threw papers in the auditorium. One protester shouted about protecting migrants and police violence against demonstrations.
MARKETS IN BRIEF
US Home Construction Rose 1.5% in October
U.S. home construction improved a slight 1.5 percent in October, but in a troubling sign, ground breakings for single-family houses fell.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23 million, up from 1.21 million in September. The gains came entirely from apartments. Starts for single-family houses slipped 1.8 percent last month.
Housing has stumbled in recent months as mortgage rates have climbed, putting the ability to buy a home or move up to a nicer property out of reach for more Americans. A sharp increase in mortgage rates has led to a marked decline in home construction since May, such that ground breakings have fallen 2.6 percent over the past 12 months.
The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has shot up a full percentage point in the past year to 4.94 percent, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. This benchmark rate is at its highest average since February 2011.
Permits, an indicator of future activity, declined 0.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.26 million.
This pullback in construction has occurred as sales of new homes have begun to stall.
New-home purchases have plummeted for the past four months, including a steep 5.5 percent drop in September, according to a Commerce Department report last month. The annual rate of home sales has declined 15.3 percent since May, a striking reversal from the growth seen during the first five months of 2018.
Former Toys R Us Workers to Get $20M in Hardship Fund
Two private equity owners of the iconic Toys R Us toy chain will be handing over a $20 million hardship fund to the thousands of former workers left jobless and without severance after the chain was liquidated in June.
The move by KKR and Bain Capital is aimed at helping the 30,000 workers affected by the store closures and comes following efforts by worker-backed groups.
Workers are pushing to get an additional $55 million they believe they’re owed and are looking to other firms that had a stake in Toys R Us and that they believed played a role in the chain’s demise.
Martha Stewart’s first Uber ride was ‘a mess inside and out’
Martha Stewart’s first Uber ride was not a good thing.
Stewart ordered the “most expensive version” Monday outside Tiffany’s flagship store in New York City. As Stewart explained on Instagram , she wanted to be picked up on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.
Stewart wrote the first car did not show up and the second parked “halfway down” the street where she “could not see the license plate.” That car was pointed in the wrong direction, delaying her journey as the car snaked through midtown Manhattan traffic.
But the worst part was the car “was a mess inside and out!!!!!!!!” She posted a picture that showed debris on the floor and two water bottles.
Uber says it was disappointed to hear about Stewart’s first experience and has reached out to her and her team.
TJX Shares Fall on 3Q Results, Guidance
hares of The TJX Cos. fell Tuesday after the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter results and guidance for the year.
The parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls reported a 19 percent boost in profit to $762.3 million, or 61 cents per share. Excluding a tax benefit and pension settlement charge, profit came to 54 cents per share. That falls short of the 61 cents per share expected by Wall Street.
Shares fell $3.06, or 6.3 percent, to $45.90 in early trading amid a broader market declined.
The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company reported a 12 percent boost in revenue to $9.83 billion, topping expectations for $9.5 billion. Sales in stores open at least a year — a key metric of a retailer’s health — rose 7 percent, also topping expectations.
Overall sales were driven by higher customer traffic in each division, the company said.
Looking ahead, adjusted fourth-quarter profit will range from 56 cents to 57 cents per share, falling short of forecasts for 63 cents per share.
TJX expects adjusted full-year earnings to be $2.08 to $2.09 per share.
Kohl’s 3Q Results Top Street on Strength in Clothes Business
Kohl’s Corp. fiscal third-quarter performance beat Wall Street’s view on strength across its clothing business, and the department store operator increased the low end of its full-year adjusted earnings outlook.
For the period ended Nov. 3, the chain earned $161 million, or 98 cents per share. A year ago the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based company earned $117 million, or 70 cents per share.
The results were 2 cents better than what analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected.
Revenue climbed to $4.63 billion from $4.57 billion, slightly higher than the $4.62 billion Wall Street predicted.
Sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.5 percent on a shifted basis. On a fiscal basis, the figure increased 1 percent. This metric is a key gauge of a retailer’s health. This topped the 0.7 percent increase that analysts surveyed by FactSet expected.
Kohl’s Corp. said Tuesday that it now foresees full-year adjusted earnings in a range of $5.35 to $5.55 per share. Its previous outlook was for earnings of $5.15 to $5.55 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet are looking for earnings of $5.49 per share.
Shares dropped nearly 10 percent before the market open on Tuesday.
Best Buy: Fiscal 3Q Earnings Snapshot
Best Buy Co. (BBY) on Tuesday reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $277 million.
The Richfield, Minnesota-based company said it had net income of 99 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 93 cents per share.
The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 85 cents per share.
The consumer electronics retailer posted revenue of $9.59 billion in the period, also exceeding Street forecasts. Ten analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $9.55 billion.
For the current quarter ending in January, Best Buy expects its per-share earnings to range from $2.48 to $2.58. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had forecast adjusted earnings per share of $2.58.
The company said it expects revenue in the range of $14.4 billion to $14.8 billion for the fiscal fourth quarter. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had expected revenue of $14.67 billion.
Best Buy expects full-year earnings in the range of $5.09 to $5.19 per share, with revenue ranging from $42.5 billion to $42.9 billion.
Best Buy shares have fallen 9 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has increased nearly 1 percent. The stock has risen 11 percent in the last 12 months.
Campbell: Fiscal 1Q Earnings Snapshot
Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) on Tuesday reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of $194 million.
On a per-share basis, the Camden, New Jersey-based company said it had profit of 64 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 79 cents per share.
The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 69 cents per share.
The maker of canned soup, Pepperidge Farm cookies and V8 juice posted revenue of $2.69 billion in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.68 billion.
Campbell shares have dropped 20 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed almost 1 percent. The stock has declined 23 percent in the last 12 months.
Lowe’s: Fiscal 3Q Earnings Snapshot
Lowe’s Cos. (LOW) on Tuesday reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $629 million.
On a per-share basis, the Mooresville, North Carolina-based company said it had profit of 78 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs and asset impairment costs, came to $1.04 per share.
The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 97 cents per share.
The home improvement retailer posted revenue of $17.42 billion in the period, which also beat Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $17.33 billion.
Lowe’s expects full-year earnings in the range of $5.08 to $5.13 per share.
Lowe’s shares have dropped almost 2 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen almost 1 percent. The stock has risen 14 percent in the last 12 months.
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