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Slower Growth Signaled by Wal-Mart Stock as Commodities Rise

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Slower Growth Signaled by Wal-Mart Stock as Commodities Rise

Post by Jen on Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:08 pm

Slower Growth Signaled by Wal-Mart Stock as Commodities Rise

Economists ignore volatile
commodity prices when calculating inflation. The poorest
families, who spend as much as 25 percent of their after-tax
income on food and fuel, don’t have that luxury.

Rising prices “will shave a couple tenths off consumer
spending, and the consumers that are going to get hit the most
are at the lower end of the income scale,” said Michael Feroli,
chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. On
March 11, he lowered his forecast for first quarter growth to
2.5 percent from 3.5 percent and second quarter growth to 3.5
percent from 4 percent, citing in part the persistence of higher
energy costs.

America’s poorer families are suffering more than richer
households as they face a bigger squeeze from the highest
gasoline expenses in more than two years, stagnating wages and a
jobless rate that has remained at or above 8.9 percent since
April 2009. Their pain is shared by their preferred retailers,
including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)
and J.C. Penney Co.
“Rising gas prices and still-high unemployment levels
weigh on the minds of our customers,” Bill Simon, U.S. chief
executive officer of Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, said
on a Feb. 22 earnings call. “Pressure from higher energy and
commodity costs are factors that we will watch closely, as they
affect our own logistics and transportation costs, as well as
the prices the customer pays,” he said.

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