Dow Hits Record High, Retailers Sink

NEW YORK (AP) --- Retailers sank Tuesday after Amazon said it will raise hourly wages for U.S. employees, and smaller companies continued to stumble. Several big industrial companies rose, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record high.

Amazon, one of the largest private employers in the U.S., said it will raise the minimum wage for its U.S. workers to $15 an hour in November. Amazon also said it will advocate for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since July 2009. Its stock fell, but other retailers suffered bigger losses.

"The question is, do other companies have to follow suit?" said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "This is the argument that what's good for Main Street is not necessarily good for Wall Street."

The bad news for retailers didn't end there. Stitch Fix, an online clothing company, plunged 35.2 percent $28.94. Stitch Fix had almost tripled since its IPO in November.

Pepsi fell after it said the strong dollar will take a bigger chunk out of its annual profit. General Motors and Ford both fell after they reported their sales.

The S&P 500 index fell 1.16 points to 2,923.43. The Dow added 122.73 points, or 0.5 percent, to 26,773.94. The biggest gains came from industrial companies Boeing, 3M and Caterpillar.

The Nasdaq composite lost 37.75 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,999.55. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Amazon lost 1.6 percent to $1,971.31 while Nike lost 2 percent to $82.77 and Gap sank 4.9 percent to $27.31. Smaller consumer-focused companies fared even worse. Crocs dropped 6.8 percent to $19.59 and Guess skidded 6.7 percent to $20.69.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 16.95 points, or 1 percent, to 1,656.04, its lowest close since July 30. Earlier this year investors bought up smaller companies as tensions with trading partners flared up. Smaller companies tend to be less exposed to trade conflicts since they do more business in the U.S. than larger companies.

Investors aren't as worried about trade tensions recently, so they are shifting money out of smaller companies and into large multinationals. In the last three months the S&P 500 has climbed 7.2 percent and the Russell is essentially flat.

Krosby said rising oil and gas prices are also a problem for retailers because they could leave consumers feeling like they have less money to spend over the holiday shopping season.

Automakers fell following their sales updates. GM dipped 2.6 percent to $33.30 and Ford fell 1.3 percent to $9.20, but Toyota added 0.7 percent to $125.71. Auto parts retailers AutoZone fell 1 percent to $762.82.

Automakers had risen Monday as the trade deal with Canada appeared to reduce the chances that the industry will be harmed by tariffs on imported cars. The pact offers protection to Canada if the U.S. does impose tariffs.

Pepsi fell 1.8 percent to $108.72 after it said the stronger dollar will have a bigger effect on its earnings this year. The company is now forecasting a profit of about $5.65 per share in 2018, down from an earlier estimate of $5.70 a share.

Airlines fell after Delta's projections for the third quarter disappointed Wall Street, and the airline said it lost $30 million due to Hurricane Florence. Delta gave up 3.4 percent to $54.69 while American fell 2.8 percent to $38.50.

Italy's leaders refused to budge from new spending plans that have been worried investors, pushing the eurozone's third-largest economy on a collision course with its EU partners. Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Tuesday that the government won't change its plan to increase its deficit to 2.4 percent of GDP.

Italy's FTSE MIB fell 0.2 percent for its fifth loss in a row, and Italian government bond prices continued to fall, a sign investors are concerned about the country's debts. Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent and the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent.

Separately, the credit ratings agency Moody's warned that Europe remains highly vulnerable to another economic downturn despite all its fire-fighting efforts over the past few years.

Oil prices declined slightly after reaching four-year highs on Monday. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 0.1 percent to $75.23 in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 0.2 percent to $84.80 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $2.13 a gallon and heating oil remained at $2.41 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2.3 percent to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold jumped 1.3 percent to $1,207 an ounce and silver rose 1.3 percent to $14.69 an ounce. Copper gained 0.7 percent to $2.81 a pound.

The dollar fell to 113.69 yen from 113.99 yen. The euro fell to $1.1545 from $1.1575.

Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.06 percent from 3.08 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 2.4 percent after it reopened following a national holiday. South Korea's Kospi lost 1.3 percent and the benchmark Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.1 percent.

(BE)