Shares of retailers and other consumer-services companies ticked down as a big deal unsettled the grocery niche. Amazon.com agreed to buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, a bold move into the bricks-and-mortar retail business to which it has posed an existential threat. The acquisition, Amazon's largest by far, gives it a network of more than 460 stores, which analysts anticipate will serve as pick-up locations for goods ordered online. Shares of Walmart, which had sought to gain an edge on Amazon.com with "in-store" pickups of online orders, fell in the wake of the deal disclosure, as did those of other retail chains. Grocers such as Kroger, which disappointed investors with its earnings forecast earlier in the week, were particularly hard hit. Kroger and its peers have struggled with falling food prices, greater competition and weaker consumer demand in recent quarters. In a bad sign for the property market, housing starts dropped 5.5% in May from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.092 million, the Commerce Department said Friday. The University of Michigan said its preliminary June reading on consumer sentiment was 94.5, its lowest level since November and down from May's final figure of 97.1.
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-Rob Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 16, 2017 16:52 ET (20:52 GMT)