“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
Other chain stores followed Wal-Mart lower, with Safeway Inc., Target Corp. and Macy’s Inc. retreating more than 1 percent. Herbalife Ltd. surged 1.2 percent after billionaire investor Carl Icahn reported a 13 percent stake in the company and said he would seek talks with the nutritional supplements company to discuss strategic alternatives.
Equities rose earlier after the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment for February rose to 76.3, beating the median of estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists for a reading of 74.8. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index climbed to 10, the highest since May 2012 and beating the highest economist forecast in a survey. The median projection called for minus 2. Readings of less than zero signal contraction in New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut.
Two-year Treasury yields increased less than one basis point to 0.27 percent, while 30-year rates added less than one basis points to 3.18 percent. The dollar was stronger against 10 of 16 peers, rising the most against the currencies of South Africa, New Zealand and Canada.
Another report showed industrial production in the U.S. unexpectedly shrank in January as factories took a breather after the biggest back-to-back gain in three decades. Output at factories, mines and utilities fell 0.1 percent after a 0.4 percent gain in December, figures from the Federal Reserve showed today in Washington.