Consumers from all income levels are spending cautiously as the back-to-school shopping season approaches, forcing retailers from Wal-Mart to Macy’s to decrease their annual sales forecasts.
Both those major retailers reported this week that they suffered from sluggish sales in the past quarter.
Macy’s sales fell below analysts’ expectations for the first time in 25 quarters. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s second-quarter results also fell below forecasts and its shares slid 2.6 percent to $74.41.
Even retailers catering to upper-income consumers like Nordstroms reported that sales were “softer than anticipated” and lowered their forecasts. Analysts say the two percentage point payroll-tax increase is likely one reason consumers have reined in their spending. - Read more at The New York Times
NEW SNOWDEN LEAK: NSA REPEATEDLY BROKE RULES The National Security Agency broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in order to obtain Americans’ communication records, according to classified documents obtained by The Washington Post from former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden.
The documents revealed that within the last 12 months there were at least 2,776 incidents of unauthorized spying practices ranging from significant violations to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of emails and phone calls. Read more at The Washington Post
EGYPT DEATH TOLL RISES TO MORE THAN 600 By Thursday night, health officials in Egypt had counted 638 dead and nearly 4,000 injured, though the final toll is expected to be higher. - Read more at The New York Times
FEWER APPROVE OF OBAMA’s ECONOMIC SKILLS Approval of the president’s handling of the economy declined by 7 percentage points since June, according to a new Gallup Poll released Thursday. The poll showed that only 35 percent of respondents approve of the president's handling of the economy, down from 42 percent in June. The president’s overall approval rating also fell by 3 points this summer to 44 percent. - See the poll here
OBAMACARE ‘NAVIGATORS’ RECEIVE $67 MILLION IN FED GRANTS Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday the federal government was granting $67 million to various groups tasked with helping people sign up for health insurance through state exchanges this fall under the Affordable Care Act. The groups or “navigators” will serve as on-the-ground advisers for insurance applicants, answering questions and encouraging people to sign up for health insurance to bolster enrollment in the new exchanges. - Read more at the Atlanta Journal Constitution
CONSERVATIVES PLAN ANTI-OBAMACARE PUSH FreedomWorks and Heritage Action will spend the last two weeks of August pressuring lawmakers in their home districts to oppose any spending bills that contain funding for implementing Obamacare. Both groups are targeting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Republican senators who have rejected Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) plan to defund the president’s healthcare law by shutting down the government. - Read more at Politico