What's moving markets today: March 7, 2019

5:37 p.m. ET, March 7, 2019

Costco's holiday sales surged and it's raising wages

Costco's sales soared during the holidays as customers flooded into stores for groceries, toys, and electronics.

Sales at US stores open for at least a year grew 7.4% last quarter compared to a year earlier, the company said Thursday. Costco's profit also grew.

The combination drove up Costco's stock 4% in after-hours trading.

Costco (COST) joined Walmart, Target and Best Buy among retail's winners during the holiday stretch. The company has successfully staved off Amazon by keeping prices low and investing in its Kirkland Signature brand.

Costco also plans to raise its minimum wage. Amazon recently bumped up its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

4:22 p.m. ET, March 7, 2019

US markets fall for fourth straight day

US markets closed lower Thursday, the fourth straight day of losses.

  • The Dow dropped 200 points, or 0.8%.
  • The S&P 500 fell 0.8%.
  • The Nasdaq declined 1.1%.

Retail stocks were among the worst performing.

Kroger (KR) plunged 10% after reporting earnings that missed expectations. Barnes & Noble (BKS) fell nearly 13% after the company said it expected profit to shrink.

Costco (COST) is the next big retailer to report earnings after the closing bell. That stock fell 1% during trading hours.

3:01 p.m. ET, March 7, 2019

Tim Cook adopts the nickname he just got from Trump

Yesterday, President Donald Trump called Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook "Tim Apple" at a White House meeting:

You really put a big investment in our country. We appreciate it very much, Tim Apple."

Cook didn't acknowledge the flub in the moment, but he appears to have accepted it. Here's how he changed his name on Twitter:

4:44 p.m. ET, March 7, 2019

Americans’ net worth just took the biggest hit since the Great Recession

Stock market volatility hit Americans' net worth at the end of 2018, with household net worth falling $3.7 trillion, or 3.5%, in the fourth quarter, according to Federal Reserve data.

It was the worst decline on record and the worst percentage decline since the Great Recession.

During the market downturn that began in October of last year, Americans lost $4.6 trillion in equities before stocks stabilized in December. This is the first time net worth has fallen since the third quarter of 2015, when it slid 1%.

The last time Americans’ net worth saw a greater drop was the fourth quarter of 2008 when they lost 6% or $3.8 trillion of wealth.

The decline does not reflect the average household's balance sheet, since stock ownership is concentrated among the wealthy. Only 18.7% of Americans own stock directly, while about half are invested in the market through through employer-sponsored retirement accounts, according to Pew.

Americans' net worth should also recover in the first quarter of 2019, if the current stock market rally continues.

12:32 p.m. ET, March 7, 2019

Scenes from a GM plant closing

Workers gathered today to mourn and comfort each other as the last Chevy Cruze rolled off the production line at the GM (GM) plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Many of the people gathered today are losing jobs that they once thought would last a lifetime. They are also mourning the loss of a specific type of American job that is quickly vanishing: Work that provides stable wages and job security to people without a college degree.

Full-time production workers at the Lordstown plant made between $61,000 and $81,000 a year, while the average salary of workers in the area is only $38,000.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The shuttering of the Lordstown plant is emblematic of GM’s general shift away from human labor and towards automation, as well as a move away from sedans like the Cruze in favor of large trucks. In its heyday, GM employed 618,000 employees; that number has since dwindled to around 103,000.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

What's next for Lordstown? The area's remaining small manufacturers say the labor jobs here will be replaced by robots, 3D printers, and a small group of highly-skilled engineers that manage the factory floors.

12:31 p.m. ET, March 7, 2019

Yikes! Stocks are sinking

Wall Street is in negative territory. Here's where they stand:

  • The Dow is down 200 points, or 0.80%
  • Nasdaq slid 40 points, or 0.60%
  • S&P 500 is off 18 points, or 0.64%

Retail stocks are getting hammered today:

  • Barnes & Noble (BKS) is down 16% after it said it expects its profit to shrink this year.
  • Burlington Stores (BURL) is down 13% after reporting mixed earnings.
  • Hugo Boss (BOSSY) fell 8% after it indicated that operating profit will increase faster than sales.
  • Kroger (KR) shares are still performing badly — down 10% — after a brutal earnings report.
11:01 a.m. ET, March 7, 2019

Look at how badly Kroger's stock is doing today

Kroger (KR) shares are down 12% after a brutal earnings report that missed analysts' expectations.

  • The stock is now down 9% for the year.
10:50 a.m. ET, March 7, 2019

Canopy Growth co-CEO: Pot prohibition just ended

Canopy Growth chairman and co-CEO Bruce Linton is feeling good about Martha Stewart recently joining the cannabis company as an adviser.

"Martha. You don't even need a last name," he told Julia Chatterley on CNN's "First Move" show Thursday and added that signing Stewart was all about attaching "a great reputation to great products."

Linton also said he was not worried about the fact that Canopy Growth is not yet profitable. The industry is still in its early stages, he said.

Canada just legalized recreational cannabis in October, and more and more US states are doing the same for recreational and medicinal marijuana.

"We need to be disciplined, but prohibition just ended," Linton said about Canada. He added that Canopy wants to have a "rational" rollout of cannabis and CBD products but that it "will happen rapidly."

Canopy Growth (CGC) may be in the best position to establish itself as a leader in the still nascent industry thanks to a huge investment from Corona owner Constellation Brands (STZ), Linton told Chatterley.

"When someone says can I give you $4 billion, you say yes," he said.

9:51 a.m. ET, March 7, 2019

US stocks open lower yet again

The US stock market has fallen every day this week, and they weren't about to buck the trend Thursday.

The Dow fell 50 points at the open.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaqboth opened down 0.2%.

Kroger's (KR) stock opened 12% lower after announcing its promotions and new initiatives squeezed profit last quarter.

Barnes & Noble (BKS) shares dropped 13% on a much weaker-than-expected profit outlook -- it expects profit to shrink this year.