Consumer Stocks Finish Higher

Consumer stocks continued to add to day-long advance, with shares of consumer staples companies in the S&P 500 posting a 0.7% gain while shares of consumer discretionary firms in the S&P 500 increased over 0.8%.

In company news, shares of grocery retail chain Kroger (KR) were narrowly lower this afternoon after wholesale distributor Core-Mark Holding Co (CORE) said it was ending its supply agreement with Kroger’s convenience-store unit when the current contract expires in April.

The agreement with Kroger Convenience covers around 680 stores, reducing Core-Mark’s total location count to about 44,000. Core-Mark today said it has signed a new supply pact with Walmart Stores (WMT) covering about 530 store locations.

Today’s announcement follows Kroger (KR) late yesterday saying it expects to hire another 10,000 new employees for its supermarket divisions during 2017, adding to the 12,000 new employees it hired last year.

KR shares were down less than 1% at $33.39 apiece, climbing 10 cents above their session low. CORE shares were up slightly more than 2% at $40.14 each, easing from their session high at $40.37 apiece, while WMT was up 1% at $67.17 a share, staying relatively near its $67.37-a-share session high.

By Stephen Holmes