What's moving markets today: April 11, 2019

By CNN Business

Updated 8:37 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019
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5:21 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

J Crew may take its surging Madewell brand public this year

From CNN Business' Nathaniel Meyersohn

J Crew's sales have fallen for four straight years and the privately-held company is $1.7 billion in debt. But the retailer's Madewell brand has been a growth machine.

On Thursday, J Crew said it's exploring spinning off the brand as separate public company. An IPO for Madwell could come as early as the back half of 2019.

Madewell, which was introduced in 2006 as a women's denim brand, has more than doubled its sales over the past four years to $529 million. Madewell's total sales grew 26% last year, while J Crew's sales fell 3.7%.

The brand has also launched a men's line and recently named its first CEO. Madewell runs close to 130 stores in the United States.

J Crew could use the funds generated from a Madewell IPO to help pay down its debt.

"We believe a potential IPO of Madewell, which had another record year of performance in 2018, could unlock significant value," said Michael Nicholson, J Crew's interim CEO. J Crew has been without a permanent chief executive since November.

If Madewell goes public, it would be the third major retail brand spinoff in recent years.

VF Corp (VFC) announced plans last year to split its Wrangler and Lee jeans' brands into a separate public company. Gap (GPS) is planning an IPO for Old Navy next year.

4:22 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Markets barely budge. Except health care stocks — they stumbled

From CNN Business' Matt Egan

Wall Street finished virtually unchanged on Thursday.

The Dow fell 15 points, while the S&P 500 closed up 0.11 points. The Nasdaq dipped 0.2%.

Health care stocks, however, stumbled. UnitedHealth (UNH) fell 4%, making it the biggest loser on the Dow and the S&P 500. Anthem (ANTH), Centene (CNC) and HCA Healthcare (HCA) also dropped 

Weight Watchers (WW), now known as WW, tumbled 10% after JPMorgan published a bearish research report warning of a drop in subscribers.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) slumped 9% following its first annual loss in the retailer’s nearly 27 years as a public company.

2:00 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

This cooler's stock is having a hot year

From CNN Business' Jordan Valinsky

Yeti (YETI), which makes coolers and insulated mugs, is having a big day. The stock is up 4% today after a bullish analyst report, our Paul R. La Monica points out:

Shares are up more than 100% for the year:

1:41 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Google loses its VP and diversity chief

From CNN Business' Sara Ashley O'Brien

Google's vice president and diversity chief Danielle Brown announced Thursday she's departing the company less than two years after she was hired.

Brown will join online payments startup called Gusto. Previously, she worked at Intel for nearly 8 years.

Her departure, announced in a tweet and LinkedIn post, comes one week after Google release its latest diversity report. It revealed an improved retention of female, Black and Latinx employees. It also showed its proportion of women leadership hires decreased -- an area it said it will prioritize in 2019.

Brown's tenure coincided with a tumultuous time for the company's workforce, including a recent staged walkout over how Google handled severance packages for executives accused of sexual harassment.

12:38 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Walmart exec shades Amazon's Jeff Bezos on Twitter

From CNN Business' Jordan Valinsky

Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos released his annual letter to shareholders and had some choice words for his competitors -- without actually naming them.

Bezos wrote that rivals should match his company's $15 per hour minimum wage.

Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It's a kind of competition that will benefit everyone," he said.

Dan Bartlett, Walmart's executive vice president of corporate affairs, took notice of Bezos' demand and responded on Twitter:

Walmart's (WMT) entry level pay at its stores is $11 per hour, but has recently changed its bonus program so workers can earn extra cash.

12:30 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Markets turn red, led lower by health care and energy

From CNN Business' Matt Egan

US stocks reversed course and headed south in early afternoon trading.

Markets were led lower by weakness in health care stocks. Cigna (CI), Centene (CNC) and UnitedHealth (UNH) all fell by 2%.

US oil prices dropped 1.6% to around $63.50 a barrel, cooling off from a recent hot streak. Oil came under pressure after OPEC sources told Reuters that the cartel could raise output if shrinking Venezuela and Iranian supply keeps prices rallying.

Weight Watchers (WTW), now known as WW, tumbled 12% after JPMorgan slashed its price target to $12 due to concerns about shrinking subscribers.

12:10 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Bed Bath and Beyond drops after posting first annual loss

By CNN Business' Taylor Nicole Rogers

Bed Bath and Beyond (BBBY) shares are down 9% Thursday after the retailer reported its earnings after the bell yesterday.

The company posted a loss $132.7 million for the fiscal year. This is Bed, Bath and Beyond’s first annual loss in the nearly 27 years it has been public.

Bed Bath and Beyond is also under pressure from activist investors. The company is reviewing its corporate governance structure and nominating a new lead director to its board.

12:31 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Caesars reportedly inches closer to a sale

From CNN Business' Jordan Valinsky

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn's wish of getting Caesars Entertainment (CZR) to put itself up for sale is reportedly coming closer to reality.

The New York Post reports that the resort company "plans to announce within days" that it's for sale. A potential suitor includes Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets, a restaurateur and owner of Golden Nugget Casino.

Icahn has slowly been increasing his stake in Caesars and has revamped its board. He's previously said he thinks a sale is the "best path forward."

Caesars shares are up nearly 3% in early trading. The stock is up 37% for the year.

10:05 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Stocks inch higher ahead of earnings season kicking off

From CNN Business' David Goldman

US stocks opened marginally higher on Thursday, as investors were gearing up for the first quarter earnings season to get under way.

  • The Dow Jones rose 30 points.
  • The S&P 500 was up 2 points.
  • The tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped 5 points.

In individual stocks, Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), which reported results after Wednesday’s market close, was down nearly 11% in early trading.

Elsewhere, ride-sharing app Lyft (LYFT) will remain in focus, as investors are awaiting the S-1 filing of its competitor Uber.

Earlier, US jobless claims dropped below 200,000 for the first time in more than 49 years, stressing the robustness of the US labor market in the face of global economic growth worries.