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Tesla, PayPal lift S&P 500 and Nasdaq ahead of Big Tech earnings

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October 25, 2021

By Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes edged higher in choppy trade on Monday, led by gains in Tesla and PayPal shares, while investors geared up for earnings reports from heavyweight technology companies this week that could provide direction to the markets.

Tesla Inc rose 4.5% to a record high after car rental firm Hertz placed an order for 100,000 Tesla cars, while Morgan Stanley boosted its price target on the electric-car maker’s stock.

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Its shares provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, followed by PayPal Inc, which added 4.9% after the payments company scrapped its plans to buy the digital pinboard site Pinterest Inc for as much as $45 billion. Shares of Pinterest plunged 13.6%.

Five of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading. Energy shares outperformed with a 1.9% gain.

Facebook Inc, which will kick off quarterly results for mega-cap technology giants after markets close on Monday, fell 0.3%. Investors fear its ad revenue could face the brunt of Apple’s iPhone privacy changes that have also hit Snap Inc’s third-quarter revenue.

“After Snap got an Apple caught in its throat, markets will have an itchy trigger finger over the sell button if the social network says the same,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

Coupled with Facebook, shares of Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet and Amazon.com Inc which collectively account for over 22% of the weighting in the S&P 500 also slipped, capping gains on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

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Strong earnings updates from some companies lifted the benchmark index to an intra-day record high on Friday, driving a 5.6% gain so far in October after a stumble in September.

Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to grow 34.8% year-on-year for the third quarter, according to data from Refinitiv.

“We are seeing strong confidence with upward revisions to quarterly earnings estimates,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist, CFRA Research.

“The market has regained its old highs and old highs are like rusty doors that require several attempts to swing it open, so it is going to take more sideways trading days before markets take off again.”

Investors are also assessing how companies are mitigating supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages and inflationary pressures to sustain growth.

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Shares of Kimberley-Clark dropped 3.3% after the Huggies diapers maker cut its 2021 profit outlook due to higher input cost inflation.

At 10:09 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 29.88 points, or 0.08%, at 35,706.90, the S&P 500 was up 5.33 points, or 0.12%, at 4,550.23, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 45.24 points, or 0.30%, at 15,135.44.

On the economic data front, readings on U.S. third-quarter GDP – the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge, the core PCE price index and consumer confidence data will be released later this week.

Carnival Corp slipped 1.3% after Citigroup downgraded the cruise operator’s stock to “neutral” from “buy”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.56-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.40-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

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The S&P index recorded 50 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 95 new highs and 45 new lows.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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‘Flash mob’ thieves target U.S. retail stores on Black Friday

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November 28, 2021

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Black Friday shoppers weren’t the only ones out hunting for bargains on the day after Thanksgiving. Thieves were busy as well.

Police in Los Angeles and cities elsewhere across the country spent much of their holiday weekend patrols looking for suspects in a spate of “flash mob” robberies on Friday, part of a surging U.S. crime trend in which groups of thieves swarm a store, ransack the shelves and flee.

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Authorities also have used the term “smash-and-grab” to describe the trend.

At least two such robberies were reported on Saturday by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A local television station, KCAL-TV, counted a total of six smash-and-grab heists on the city’s west side alone on Friday.

In one incident, a group of eight men entered a Home Depot outlet at a shopping mall in Lakewood, south of downtown Los Angeles, walked directly to the tool aisle and snatched a bunch of hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars valued at about $400 before making their getaway, the sheriff’s office said.

According to L.A. television station KTTV, the Home Depot robbery on Friday night involved up to 20 suspects who pulled up to the store in as many as 10 cars and donned ski masks before raiding the tool aisle.

“We tried to stop them,” store employee Luis Romo told KTTV. “We closed the front entrance, and they put their sledgehammers up and whoever got in the way, they were going to hurt them.”

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The Los Angeles City News Service said four suspects in that robbery were arrested on Saturday by Beverly Hills police.

In a similar incident Friday afternoon, a group of 10 men or more invaded a store in the city’s Fairfax district and started grabbing merchandise without paying for it, pushing employees out of the way before fleeing the scene, according to LAPD.

Police are investigating possible ties between that incident and a flurry of other robberies and retail thefts on Friday and earlier in the week, including two smash-and-grabs reported on Wednesday, an LAPD spokesperson said.

The rash of retail crime prompted the LAPD to place its officers on a citywide tactical alert on Friday afternoon.

Mass robberies also were reported on Friday at two Best Buy electronics stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, one of them involving as many as 30 suspects, while a spree of pre-dawn retail burglaries were under investigation in Chicago.

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In one of the biggest flash-mob robberies reported on the West Coast in recent days, police in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek were seeking about 80 suspects who swarmed and ransacked a department store last Saturday.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Simao)

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U.S. Black Friday shoppers tapered online splurge, as some returned to stores

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November 27, 2021

By Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) – U.S. shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday this year, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies, and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time ever, spending online during Black Friday – traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year – fell, reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

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Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September this year, because the supply-chain logjam has prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise. Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly $8.9 billion, less than the $9 billion in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at $5.1 billion, Adobe said.

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labor shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5% compared to 2020, but fell by 28.3% when compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply-chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chairman of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72% from 67% last year.

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Retailers’ moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

(Reporting by Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu, Aakriti Bhalla and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

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November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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