The Confederate Flag Must Go Says Wal-Mart & Amazon: On Tuesday, eBay joined Wal-Mart, Sears and Amazon in the decision to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise. All four companies announced that they would ban the sale of any Confederate flag merchandise as a result of the national debate regarding the use of this controversial flag. The flag has always been a symbol of the slave-holding South and as a result of the shooting which took place last week in an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, these retailers have decided to take action. Charged in the killing is Dylan Roof, who was pictured with images of a Confederate flag. Added to this Governor Nikki Haley also announced on Monday that she supports the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. In a statement, Brian Nick, the Wal-Mart spokesman said that the company had no intention of offending anyone by the products they offer and as a result, Wal-Mart will no longer promote the confederate flag on their website or in their stores. Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon, an Amazon spokesperson told CNN that they would also remove Confederate flag merchandise stating that the flag had “become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism." All items that contain the flag’s image will also be banned. eBay and Sears have also followed suit and removed all relevant items from their product offerings.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks ended the volatile trading session slightly higher. Despite the small advances, these gains were enough to put the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) and the Russell 2000 at record closing levels. These gains were prompted by rallies in global equity markets which came about as a result of optimism regarding a possible solution to Greece’s debt crisis. At the close of trading, the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.1 percent, or 6.12 points, to 5,160.09. This marked a record close for the tech heavy index for the 2nd consecutive session. Also, the Russell 2000 index gained 0.3%, or 3.37 points, to close at an all-time high of 1,295.76. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) also gained 0.1%, or 24.76 points, to close at 18,144.54 while the S&P 500 index (SPX) advanced 0.1%, or 1.41 points, to settle at 2,124.27.
In forex trading on Tuesday, the U.S. dollar traded higher. This advance came despite the release of mixed economic reports out of the U.S. while the outcome of Greek debt talks continued to weigh on market sentiment. According to the Commerce Department, for the month of May, new home sales jumped to 546,000 units, up 2.2 percent. This marked the highest level since February 2008 while also beating expectations for an increase to 525,000, up 1.5 percent. Meanwhile, in a separate report, data showed that the total durable goods orders in the U.S., which include transportation items, dropped in May by 1.8%. This missed expectations for an increase of 0.6 percent. The EUR/USD traded at 1.1192, down 1.31% which marked a two-week low while the GBP/USD traded at 1.5742, down 0.52%. Against the currencies in Japan and Canada, the greenback traded higher with USD/JPY up 0.35% to 123.81 and with USD/CAD also up 0.07% and trading at 1.2318. Also, the U.S. dollar index was at 95.48, up 1.02%.
On Wednesday, crude oil prices gained in early Asian trade. This came after the API (American Petroleum Institute) reported that for last week, crude oil supplies declined by 3.2 million barrels, which was a much bigger drop than the previous week when the API reported a decline by 2.9 million barrels. This was prompted by the summer driving season when U.S. refiners step up output. WTI crude oil for delivery in August traded at $61.05 a barrel, up 1.13%, or $0.68, on the NYMEX. This marked the 2nd consecutive session that the contract rallied more than 1 percent. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Brent crude oil for delivery in August traded at $64.40 a barrel, up $1.16, on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in London.