US retail sales rise moderately as auto-buying jumps

Autmobiles drove the slight uptick in August retail sales. File/AP

Stocks mostly off as tech drops

NEW YORK — Stocks closed mostly lower Friday as a decline in technology stocks offsets a strong performance by Wall Street banks.

Apple and Broadcom fell on weaker demand, while JPMorgan and Citigroup rose. Banks were bolstered by the action in the bond market, where the yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped to 1.90 percent from 1.79 percent on Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrials were the exception among major U.S. stock indexes, posting their eighth straight gain to end the week.

US retail sales rise moderately

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales rose moderately in August, driven higher by a jump in auto buying and healthy online sales. But there were also signs that consumers have become more cautious.

The Commerce Department says retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month, down from a strong 0.8 percent in July. Excluding autos, sales were unchanged for the first time since February.

The modest slowdown follows signs that consumer confidence, while still strong, has slipped a bit as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified. U.S. businesses have cut back on their investment and expansion plans amid the trade war's uncertainty and exports have declined. That has left consumers as a key source of growth.

Online sales continued to soar, rising 1.6 percent, roughly the same amount as in July, when Amazon held its Prime Day.

There were other signs of consumer caution. Sales at restaurants and bars, an indicator of discretionary spending, fell 1.2 percent, the steepest drop in nearly a year. Sales at grocery stores, clothing shops, and furniture stores also fell. General merchandise stores, which include chain retailers such as Walmart and Target, reported a 0.3 percent drop.

Home and garden centers reported a strong 1.4 percent gain, which may have been partly spurred by preparations for Hurricane Dorian. Sales at sporting goods and health care stores also rose.

Retail sales make up about one-third of consumer spending, with the rest consisting of services such as haircuts and medical care. Consumer spending, in turn, accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity.

WeWork to list stock on Nasdaq

NEW YORK — WeWork's parent company is revealing more of its initial public offering plans, saying it expects to list shares on the Nasdaq.

The company also announced corporate governance changes in response to "market feedback," including limiting the role of the founder's family on its board of directors.

The We Co. disclosed the information in a regulatory filing Friday.

Founded as a co-working space in Manhattan in 2010, WeWork has grown to become among the biggest corporate landlords in some cities. It mostly makes money by renting buildings and dividing them into office spaces to sublet to members.

WeWork's IPO is expected this month. Itwill be the latest money-losing enterprise to test its luck on the stock market this year, following Uber and Lyft.

Ford recalling some 2017 SUVs

DETROIT — Ford is recalling more than 300,000 of its 2017 Ford Explorer vehicles because of a sharp seat frame edge.

The automaker said Friday that there have been 31 reports of hand injuries.

Ford Motor Co. said users could come in contact with the sharp edges when reaching between the power front seat and center console. The vehicles were made at a Chicago plant from Feb. 13, 2016, to Oct. 25, 2017. It is recalling 311,907 vehicles in the U.S and federal territories, 23,380 in Canada and 3,045 in Mexico.

Dealers will install flocked tape to the exposed edge and tab on the inboard side of the power seat frames. Users are advised to use caution and avoid contact with the edge until the repair is completed.

Whole Foods cuts health care for part-timers

NEW YORK — Whole Foods, the grocery chain owned by Amazon, is cutting health care benefits for its part-time workers, a move that could leave about 1,900 of its employees without medical coverage.

Starting next year, Whole Foods employees have to work at least 30 hours a week to qualify for its medical benefits, up from the 20 hours a week it currently requires.

The grocer, which has about 95,000 workers, said it is making the change "to better meet the needs of" its business. Whole Foods said it is helping worker explore full-time jobs at its stores or find other ways to get health care coverage.

Online shopping giant Inc. bought Whole Foods two years ago for nearly $14 billion, cutting prices on some items and adding its smile logo in its aisles. The supermarket chain has two stores in the Charleston region.

London exchange rejects buyout bid

LONDON — The London Stock Exchange is rejecting an unsolicited takeover bid from its Hong Kong counterpart, citing "fundamental concerns" about the offer.

The London Stock Exchange said Friday that it sees "no merit" in going forward with the offer because of the concerns.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing had made an unexpected offer on Wednesday to buy the London exchange.

The deal would have valued the London Stock Exchange Group at $36.6 billion. But it was conditional on the London exchange scrapping its plan to buy financial data provider Refinitiv.

The London Stock Exchange said it was turning down the offer because it lacked "strategic merit" and because it "falls substantially short of an appropriate valuation."

Wire reports

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