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U.S. producer prices increase solidly in October

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November 9, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. producer prices increased solidly in October, driven by surging costs for gasoline and motor vehicle retailing, suggesting that high inflation could persist for a while amid tight supply chains related to the pandemic.

The producer price index for final demand rose 0.6% last month after climbing 0.5% in September, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. In the 12 months through October, the PPI increased 8.6% after a similar gain in September.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the PPI advancing 0.6% on a monthly basis and rising 8.7% year-on-year.

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“The acceleration in U.S. inflation may not fade as quickly as previously thought, particularly for businesses because of the global supply-chain issues,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“Elevated inflation is turning up the heat on the Federal Reserve but they haven’t shown signs of buckling as they will stomach higher inflation to get the labor market back to full employment quickly.”

More than 60% of the increase in the PPI last month was due to a 1.2% rise in the prices of goods, which followed a 1.3% jump in September. A 6.7% surge in gasoline prices accounted for a third of the rise in goods prices. There were increases in the prices of diesel, gas and jet fuel as well as plastic resins.

Wholesale food prices dipped 0.1% as the cost of beef and veal tumbled 10.3%. Prices for light motor trucks fell as the government introduced new-model-year passenger cars and light motor trucks into the PPI.

Services gained 0.2% last month after a similar rise in September. An 8.9% jump in margins for automobiles and parts retailing accounted for more than 80% of the increase in services. The cost of transportation and warehousing services jumped 1.7%.

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There were also increases in the wholesale prices of apparel, footwear, truck transportation of freight, food and alcohol retailing, hospital outpatient care as well as machinery, equipment parts and supplies. But portfolio management fees fell.

Excluding the volatile food, energy and trade services components, producer prices shot up 0.4%. The so-called core PPI gained 0.1% in September. In the 12 months through October, the core PPI rose 6.2%. That followed a 5.9% advance in September.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani,; Editing by Louise Heavens and Andrea Ricci)

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Walmart veteran Biggs to step down as CFO next year

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November 29, 2021

By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) -Walmart Inc said on Monday longtime executive Brett Biggs will step down from his role as chief financial officer of the world’s largest retailer next year.

Biggs, the finance chief since 2015, helped oversee a period of rapid change at Walmart as the brick-and-mortar retailer launched and expanded a number of initiatives to help fend off competition from Amazon.com Inc.

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Walmart made its biggest overseas investment in 2018 with a $16 billion deal to buy a majority stake in Indian online marketplace Flipkart, and beefed up its U.S. e-commerce business through the purchase of apparel retailers Modcloth and Bonobos.

Monday’s announcement came as a surprise to some analysts who had viewed Biggs as next in line for Walmart’s top job.

“Bret Biggs was a candidate to ultimately succeed Doug McMillon as CEO, given his long tenure at the company and broad experience across business units and functions outside of finance,” said Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at Roosevelt Investment Group.

“However, we expect McMillon to serve many more years at the helm,” Benowitz added.

Walmart’s shares were down 1% in late morning trade.

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Biggs had held several finance positions, including CFO of the company’s international division and U.S. business, since joining the company in 2000.

Biggs will remain in the role until a successor is named next year, Walmart said, adding he will continue to represent the company as a board member of its fintech startup until January 2023.

The startup, a joint venture with investment firm Ribbit Capital, aims to develop financial products for Walmart’s employees and customers.

Walmart said it was considering internal and external candidates to replace Biggs, as the company deals with surging labor and supply chain costs that have eaten into its profit margins.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Cyberpunk maker CD Projekt misses quarterly profit forecast

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November 29, 2021

(Reuters) – CD Projekt, the Polish video game maker behind “Cyberpunk 2077”, missed expectations on Monday with its third-quarter net profit, weighed down by higher costs.

The company’s flagship game has helped to boost sales and earnings this year but its third-quarter net profit of 16.3 million zlotys ($3.92 million) was down 78% from the previous quarter, missing analyst expectations for a 51% drop to 36 million zlotys.

(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka; Editing by David Goodman)

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Cyber Monday spending expected to slow as shoppers see fewer deals

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November 29, 2021

By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) -U.S. retailers are estimated to generate online sales of up to $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday, a decline in growth from a year earlier as fewer discounts and limited choices due to global supply chain disruptions deter shoppers.

Retailers had also spread out promotional deals across more weeks this year to protect profit margins from surging supply chain costs and to better manage inventories amid widespread product shortages ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

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Those attempts have pinched sales on what are traditionally some of the biggest shopping days of the year, with Adobe Analytics data over the weekend showing spending online during Black Friday fell for the first time ever.

“Online sales on big shopping days like Thanksgiving and Black Friday are decreasing for the first time in history, and it is beginning to smooth out the shape of the overall season,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights.

U.S. spending on Cyber Monday, which gained popularity in the mid-2000s, is expected to be between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion, according to estimates from Adobe. 

That translates to roughly flat growth at the midpoint compared to last year’s $10.8 billion, which was a near 15% jump from 2019.

Excitement on social media around Cyber Monday is also ebbing.

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“Cyber Monday continues to be extremely relevant, particularly in the digital world, but the buzz has been more muted than we’ve seen in recent history,” said Rob Garf, general manager of retail at Salesforce.

Discount rates in the United States in the week leading up to Cyber Monday were on average 8% lower than they were last year, according to Salesforce.

The holiday season kicks off just as the new Omicron coronavirus variant has triggered uncertainty over the economic reopening, but experts say it is too early to predict the impact on consumer spending.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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