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    • Is That an AI Lab? Nope, Just a Walmart If we've told you once, we've told you a thousand times: A booming economy and strong consumer sentiment have been great for retailers. So instead of only telling you about Walmart's (-2.01%) third-quarter financials (which, BTW, featured 3.4% U.S. sales growth and $124.9 billion in revenue), let's talk about how Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is trying to innovate. There's a major focus on winning customers online. With annual e-commerce sales growth clocking in at 43% in Q3, Walmart looks ready for the prime-time holiday season. Walmart is set to pass Apple to become the third largest e-commerce retailer by sales this year (behind Amazon and eBay), according to eMarketer. It'll snag 4% of U.S. e-commerce sales, up from 3.3% last year. And that takes tech investment. Stores are morphing into tech powerhouses, complete with distribution hubs to speed up deliveries, employees trained to work in tandem with AI/robots, and handy apps to help customers find what they need.
    • Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (-0.87%) added more than 35 million shares of JPMorgan (+1.56% after hours) to its portfolio last quarter.
    • Via AP Do bosses... Report four consecutive quarters of sales growth at existing locations? Boost earnings guidance for the year? Invest more than $200 million renovating a specific set of stores (called "magnets") with new technology and more varied merchandise? Expect to hit $1 billion in mobile sales this year? Apparently. But we're also guessing a 7.2% drop in share price isn't part of the job description. So why did investors knock Macy's yesterday? Because everything's relative. Bloomberg's Sarah Halzack points out investors have set a high bar for retailers given a high-flying economy and strong consumer sentiment. Plus, keep in mind financials are often compared year-over-year. Q3 2017 for Macy's was "grisly." The true test will be how it performs during this holiday season.
    • Natural gas futures skyrocketed as much as 20% yesterday. Traders are worried about skimpy supply levels (which are at a 15-year seasonal low) heading into what could be a frigid few months. Of course, new weather forecasts and supply concerns aren't the only factors at play here. Wonky hedge fund strategies also contributed a great deal to the market volatility, according to some analysts.  Still, natural gas prices are up more than 50% this year. And that could mean a higher heating bill this winter (especially if you're in the Northeast, which suffers from Pipeline Deficiency Syndrome).  + The more you know: A common unit of measurement for natural gas is "mmBtus," or one million British Thermal Units. A Btu is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
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