Consumer Cos Edge Down After Mixed Data -- Consumer Roundup

Shares of retailers and other consumer companies ticked down after mixed economic data. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., fell last week to a seasonally adjusted 220,000 in the week ended Jan. 13, a new 45-year low, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Housing starts fell 8.2% in December from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.19 million, the Commerce Department said Thursday. One strategist said the surprising rebound of retail stocks at the end of last year will mean a lot of scrutiny for the sector's earnings.

"The most interesting part of earnings season is how does the bricks-and-mortar store convert over to online--who are winners?" said Joe Kinahan, chief market strategist at brokerage TD Ameritrade. "Last quarter, it took lot of us by surprise when there was outperformance from America Eagle, Gap, names we hadn't talked about for five years. Some of those companies took their medicine a few years ago in terms of downsizing...I think, when they have a plan, Wall Street's a little more forgiving of some of these other stores."

-Rob Curran,

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT)