The stock market posted modest losses today as consumer spending in May rose slightly less than expected, ticking up 0.2% against forecasts for a 0.4% increase. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) stock certainly wasn't helping the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) either on Thursday, finishing as the worst-performing member of the index, and helping to send the Dow down 21 points, or 0.1%, to end at 16,846.
Wal-Mart shares lost 0.9% today, as the retailer deals with another PR nightmare related to employee compensation. This time, however, the headache is coming from China. That's right, Wal-Mart's being sued for undercompensating employees at one of its stores in China, a country where some factories have had to put up fences on their roofs to prevent worker suicides. The impending lawsuit is being brought by employees at an underperforming store in Changde, which was closed in March. The workers say they weren't given adequate notice of the closure, or adequate compensation upon the store's closing.
Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ: MPEL ) advanced for a third-straight day today, jumping 4.1%. The casino industry gained a huge boost on Tuesday, as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he'd try to push legislation through that would legalize gambling in the country. Abe has been trying to reignite growth in Japan through what's been dubbed "Abenomics," instituting stimulus measures, and trying to attract tourism. The casino initiative should provide opportunities for Melco Crown and its peers to cash in on the island country in the coming years.
Online beauty products retailer Jumei International Holding Limited (NYSE: JMEI ) also represents an opportunity for investors to benefit from Asian economies. Shares of Jumei surged 8.7% today, as iResearch reported China's mobile retail market expanded at a whopping 140% in the first quarter. While Jumei is part of a huge, expanding market, that alone doesn't make it a great company. The stock just went public in May, and it may be wise to watch its financial situation for a few quarters before diving in.
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