Retailers sink as Amazon raises hourly pay
03 October 2018 – Retailers sank last night 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.