Money Minute: Walmart Weighs Raising Wages; DIY Retailers' Hiring Spree

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Two of the nation's largest retailers weigh-in on paying their workers a higher minimum wage.

Walmart Stores (WMT) is reportedly evaluating the added cost of a higher minimum wage against the potential revenue it would gain from having millions of low-wage workers with more money to spend, according to Bloomberg News. Many companies that pay their workers near the minimum wage worry that President Obama's proposal to boost the rate to $10.10 an hour would hurt profits.

Retailer Gap (GPS) isn't worried. The company says it will increase the minimum wage for its workers to $9 an hour this year, and $10 an hour next year. The company expects to gain a competitive advantage in attracting the best employees.

Home-improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW) will hire 25,000 workers to handle the seasonal rush of business this spring. But that number sounds better than it really is. That's because Lowe's hired 45,000 people last spring. Rival Home Depot (HD) recently said it's bringing on 80,000 seasonal workers, about the same as it did a year ago.

The world's largest social networking firm is buying one of the biggest messaging services.
Facebook (FB) is spending a cool $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp, an Internet-based text messaging service that allows users to bypass wireless carriers and text for free. Fast-growing WhatsApp claims that 70 percent of its 450 million subscribers use the service every day.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 90 points Wednesday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 12 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) slid 35, snapping its 8 session winning streak.

One stock to watch today is Safeway (SWY). The supermarket chain says it's considering a possible sale of the company. It has held talks about a deal, but didn't identify the potential bidders. In addition to its namesake stores, California-based Safeway also operates Vons and Randalls stores.

The Sbarro restaurant chain is going on a diet. Less than a year after emerging from bankruptcy, the company plans to close 155 of its nearly 1,000 restaurants.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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