US STOCKS MOSTLY LOWER BUT AMAZON SURGE LIFTS NASDAQ

NEW YORK – US stocks finished mostly lower on Thursday (Jan 5) following disappointing holiday sales from Macy’s and Kohl’s although a big gain by Amazon helped lift the Nasdaq.

Macy’s slumped 13.9 per cent and Kohl’s 19.0 per cent after the department stores reported lower sales in the critical November-December period.
Other leading retailers, including Best Buy and Target, also fell, on concerns about conventional stores’ ability to compete amid the rise of e-commerce.

Amazon surged 3.1 per cent as the online retailer’s Alexa voice-controlled device emerged as a major presence at the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as several companies showcased new products that work with the artificial intelligence application.

That helped Nasdaq gain 10.93 points (0.20 per cent) to 5,487.94.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 42.87 points (0.21 per cent) to 19,899.29, while the broad-based S&P 500 shed 1.75 points (0.08 per cent) to 2,269.00.

Private US companies added 153,000 jobs in November, a bit below expectations and fewer than in November, according to data from ADP payrolls firm. The data is viewed as a warmup for the much more scrutinised Labour Department monthly jobs report, which will be released Friday.

Analysts expect the December jobs report to show the US economy added 175,000 jobs last month and unemployment was 4.7 per cent.

During the trading day, banks were in retreat, with Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo all shedding more than one percent.

US shares of Toyota lost 0.6 per cent after the Japanese company became the latest automaker to be the target of threats by President-elect Donald Trump over any cars exported from Mexico to the US. Toyota said its US production would not fall as a result of a new plant under construction in Mexico.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals jumped 9.3 per cent after announcing that it would not have to revise its financial statements following an internal investigation of the pricing of a high-cost blood drug. The announcement follows the sudden departure last month of Alexion’s chief executive and chief financial officer.
– AFP/

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