Microsoft Partners With Best Buy, Cisco’s Speeding Up the Web: Market Recap

U.S. stocks rose today, with the S&P 500 making its biggest gain since January. The leap was caused by economic data in the media and grocery industries doing better than had been predicted. Retail sales also climbed, rising to 0.6 percent last month, which is the biggest increase that’s been seen in three months.

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Gold: -0.52% to $1,384.80 per ounce  Oil: +0.80% to $96.65 per barrel  U.S. 10-Year: -0.079 to 2.149%

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After Last Week’s Spike, Jobless Claims Steadily March Downward: Following last week’s Employment Situation Report, the labor market was given another sign that job gains will continue; the United States Department of Labor said that the number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 334,000 in the week ending June 8. As applications for unemployment benefits act as a proxy for layoffs, this drop shows that employers are refraining from firing workers even as economic growth appears to be cooling this quarter… (Read more.)

Is Business Optimism Flagging Thanks To Weaker Sales?: Business have amassed inventories slowly this year, and recent industry data has suggested that this key measure of economic growth slowed further in April. Inventories increased throughout the month as sales declined for the second consecutive month, signaling that companies may limit orders to manufacturers to avoid an unwanted backlog of merchandise… (Read more.)

Here’s your cheat sheet to today’s top stock stories: 

Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:LULU) Chairman Dennis Wilson is dodging insider trading allegations after it was revealed that he sold $50 million in Lululemon stock before Chief Executive Officer Christine Day announced that she would be stepping down on Monday. Day’s unexpected announcement caused Lululemon stock to plunge after an already difficult quarter for the maker of high-end yoga and athletic gear… (Read more.)

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has announced a partnership with Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), launching a new Windows Store at 500 Best Buy locations in the U.S. The  move takes Samsung and Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) store-within-a-store concept one step further by essentially taking over the PC department of said Best Buy locations. As PC sales continue to slump, the Windows Stores will replace the computer departments in specific Best Buy locations, pushing Samsung and Apple areas off to the side… (Read more.)

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McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) might take a leaf out of Starbucks’s (NASDAQ:SBUX) book and start writing customers’ names on their to-go bags, as more and more customers are complaining about their poor McDonald’s eating experiences, contending that the chain’s customer service is poor and impersonal. A research report released Thursday by Dunnhumby, highlighted by The Wall Street Journal, elucidates the reality that the customer eating experience is becoming more and more important to consumers… (Read more.)

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is responding to the expectation that internet traffic will triple in the next five years by developing a new core router technology that will offer speeds that double those currently available on the market… (Read more.)

The Gannett Corporation (NYSE:GCI) is doubling its television operations through a $1.5 billion acquisition of the Belo Corporation (NYSE:BLC) in an attempt by Gannett to diversify outside failing traditional print media. The move will increase Gannett’s television holdings to 43 stations from 23, in a deal that’s the biggest local television station sale in a decade… (Read more.)

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has begun job cuts as a part of a plan to reduce its workforce the company announced in April after disappointing first quarter earnings. IBM faced its first earnings shortfall since 2005 after the company made profits of $3 a share in the first quarter, down from the $3.05 predicted by analysts. At that time IBM said the layoffs would be focused overseas and be finished by the end of June, but it has been reported that layoffs have begun within the U.S. as well… (Read more.)

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Safeway (NYSE:SWY) has announced that it’s selling over 200 of its stores in Canada to Canadian retailer Sobey’s for $5.8 billion. Safeway has not said how the move will affect its business plan in the U.S., but Cantor pointed out that Canada accounted for most Safeway’s consolidated earnings. The firm thinks that the company will be left with a fraction of its existing earnings base, a 1.3 percent operating margin business in the U.S., and keeps a Sell rating on the stock.

Don’t Miss: IBM’s American Job Cuts Have Now Begun.