Market Minute: Retailers Push to Improve Working Conditions in Bangladesh


Big name retailers push a plan to improve factory safety overseas. That and more are what's making business news Thursday.

The Dow industrials (^DJI) jumped 149 points yesterday, its second straight triple digit gain. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) gained 15 points and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) rose 28.

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A number of leading American retailers are reportedly near a deal to establish a $50 million, five-year fund to improve safety conditions in the garment factories they use in Bangladesh.

The Wall Street Journal says the agreement hinges on the government there agreeing to certain accountability measures to oversee the safety improvements. Walmart Stores (WMT), Gap (GPS), Target (TGT), Macy's (M) and Sears Holdings (SHLD) are among the companies backing this deal.

Gold prices have slumped to their lowest level in nearly three years, and that's crushing some mining stocks. Newmont Mining (NEM) is down 41 percent so far this year. Barrick Gold (ABX) has tumbled 57 percent.

The Journal also reports that Verizon (VZ) is in talks to acquire Canadian mobile phone company Mobilicity, and a second, smaller company. Canadian officials have recently eased rules on foreign ownership in an effort to spur competition.

Shares of Clearwire (CLWR) have soared this year as Sprint (S) and Dish Network (DISH) waged a bidding war. But now Dish is dropping out, and Clearwire is likely to retreat.

On the Earnings Front

Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY) says earnings edged lower, but revenue rose -- both in line with expectations.

Office furniture company Herman Miller's (MLHR) net nearly doubled from a year ago, but the company's forecast for the current quarter fell well below Street expectations.

A trio of IPOs debut today, but in a sign of the market turmoil, all three were priced at the low end or below expectations. HD Supply, which was spun off from Home Depot (HD), goes on sale at $18 a share. The video advertising network Tremor Video is priced at $10, and there's also an IPO from tech-equipment seller CDW, which hits the market at $17 a share, well below recent expectations.

Hopefully they didn't pay consultants to come up with ticker symbol -- CDW.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg