Shares of retailers and other consumer companies rose as traders bet the sector would benefit from a tax-cut package. Wal-Mart said it would stop a controversial program that allowed suspected first-time shoplifters to pay for an "education program" rather than face prosecution. In a difficult period for food processors, one of the largest, Conagra Brands said new products and bulk-buying ahead of hurricanes helped it return to sales growth in the latest quarter. Like many of its rivals, Conagra has purchased boutique brands to compensate for slowing growth of mainstays such as Orville Redenbacher's popcorn. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., rose by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 245,000 in the week ended Dec. 16, the Labor Department said.
-Rob Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 21, 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)