US wages up for discussion - The week ahead on Wall St

LABOUR expenses will be a key focus during retailers’ earnings conference calls in the coming weeks, with many companies under pressure to boost workers’ wages at a time when low US unemployment levels have given workers more leverage.

Wal-Mart, Target Corp, T.J. Maxx, Gap, and McDonald’s have already announced wage increases, and the trend appears to be trickling further into the retail and restaurant sectors. So far in this reporting season, companies such as Bed Bath & Beyond and Buffalo Wild Wings have discussed wage pressure, while Pier 1 Imports plans incentive pay for the first time in three years.

The US government said on Friday that job growth rebounded last month and the unemployment rate dropped to a near seven-year low of 5.4 per cent.

US companies reporting this week include retailers Kohl’s, Macys, Nordstrom and Ralph Lauren plus the firms Cisco Systems and Symantec.