Stocks traded both sides of the fence today before closing with a small loss on very light trading volume. The Dow was off 13 points at 25,806. All quiet on the western front.
China released its projected 2019 GDP growth rate targets and they were lowered from 6.6% to a range of 6% - 6.5%. China has also been taking efforts to stimulate its economy by lowering the VAT tax and telling banks to lend more to small business. Their BRI program has also hit some snags especially in Venezuela where they face losses on the estimated $50 in loans made to Maduro.
Boeing's Machinists union has negotiated an unusual mid-contract pay raise for thousands of its members, winning a $4 per hour hike of minimum pay rates. The agreement comes after Boeing, facing a worker shortage in the region's tight labor market, raised pay rates for new hires. This news dovetails with reports from other businesses that we talk to in the Puget Sound. Even Home Depot today announced it hopes to hire 80,000 people across its 2000 US stores and 100 distribution centers before the spring sales rush begins. We occasionally ask people if they are seeing any signs of a slowdown in their business and so far, the answers have been “no”. Between Amazon’s growth, Boeing’s success and other tech firms moving to the area and fighting for office space there is plenty of work for transit projects, roads, infrastructure, housing, apartments etc., everyone seems busier than a one legged man in a fanny kicking contest.
Minnesota based Target Stores posted its best comp store sales results in a decade beating Wall Street estimates on both top and bottom-line results. The company posted a 1% revenue gain and a 13% increase in profits. CEO Brian Cornell said efforts to open smaller stores in places like New York city coupled with online orders that are picked up same day at stores are driving more and bigger transactions. The gurus cheered the news and sent shares higher.