After nearly three years, the oil titan is set to face the U.S. Government on charges of gross negligence.
Extra Space Storage Incorporated (EXR) maintained its quarterly dividend of 25 cents per share. The dividend is payable on March 29, 2013 to stockholders of record at the close of business on March 15, 2013.
Volcano (VOLC) was downgraded by Goldman Sachs (GS) to neutral from buy with a price target of $25 as the company’s base business remains under pressure. Shares are lower by about 8.8 percent.
Home Depot (HD) was upgraded by Oppenheimer (OPY) from perform to outperform with a price target of $76, and improving demand trends should add to the bottom line. Shares are higher by about 1.7 percent.
This eighth trading week of 2013 comes to a close with investors sending stocks higher after two days of losses after an announcement by the Federal Reserve that stimulus measures may soon be halted. Hi.
Wal-Mart caused quite a stir recently when company sources fretted over the lowest February month-to-date sales figures in 7 years (as reported by Renee Dudley in Bloomberg). The plunge followed a disappointing January. Many market analysts look at the retail giant as a bellwether for the national economy, of which it forms a considerable part.
The retail environment is proving to be stubbornly tough as President Barack Obama begins his second term. The temporary cut in Social Security taxes expired in January, and the restoration of the normal rate means that workers are paying an additional 2% of their pay in FICA levies. In addition, income tax refunds will arrive later this year, as both the IRS and the tax preparation industry reprogram their computers in the wake of the “fiscal cliff” deal enacted on New Year’s Day.
The larger macroeconomic picture is not exactly rosy, either:
Simon (Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon) cited negative economic growth, declining consumer confidence and rising unemployment as challenges facing the company. The U.S. economy shrank at a 0.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, and the unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage point to 7.9 percent in January. The Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence declined last month to the lowest since November 2011.
For those inclined to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, there is the notion that Wal-Mart’s problems are more linked to its size, target market of less affluent Americans and management decisions. Brad Plumer of The Washington Post’s “WonkBlog” notes that arch-rival Target’s sales are actually up in January, suggesting that the malaise is confined to the less affluent segments of the consumer market.
Maybe. But less affluent consumers form the fastest growing demographic of the Obama economy, and the observation provides cold comfort to a public now being bombarded with news about the coming sequestration battles.
Photo credit: Maryland Pride via Wikipedia
Host @DavidBegnaud delivers breaking news and today’s trending buzz in 45 seconds. Nathan Epstein posted this video to Youtube: “Ashlee Arnau, a cheerleader at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS, provided the highlight of the night with an incredible, acrobatic, half-court shot….and oh yeah, she MADE IT!”
Best Picture contenders for the Academy Award bring in a $2 billion bounty in tickets sales. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Candidates in Italy’s parliamentary elections hold their final rallies before the February 24-25 vote. Silvio Berlusconi’s rebound and the rise of a comedian have thrown the election wide open. Analysts are questioning whether the poll will produce the strong government, with a mandate for reform, that the country needs. Joanna Partridge reports
The Obama administration is warning that automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect March 1 will result in travel delays at major airports and require traffic-disrupting shutdowns of air traffic control towers at smaller facilities.