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Target forecasts surprise drop in 2017 comparable sales, shares sink


´╗┐Target Corp (TGT. N) forecast a surprise drop in full-year sales at established stores on Tuesday and reported a steeper-than-expected fall in holiday-quarter sales due to "unexpected softness" at its stores. The retailer's shares tumbled nearly 12 percent in premarket trading. Target's net sales have now declined for six quarters in a row as shoppers increasingly gravitate to online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN. O) and spend more on big-ticket purchases such as cars and home renovations rather than on electronics, food and apparel. The Minneapolis-based retailer said it expects sales at stores open for at least a year to decline in the low-single digit percentage range in fiscal 2017, after reporting a fall of 0.5 percent in 2016. Analysts on average were expecting the company's same-store sales to increase 0.4 percent in 2017, according to analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix. Target also forecast full-year earnings from continuing operations of $3.80-$4.20 per share, while analysts' on average were expecting its profit to top $5.00, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The retailer also reported a drop in gross margins as well as a bigger-than-expected decline in profit for the fourth quarter, reflecting pressure from discounting and clearance as well as costs from its shift from brick-and-mortar to digital channels.

"Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores," Target Chief Executive Brian Cornell said in a statement. Target's results compare poorly against those of bigger rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT. N), which last week reported higher-than-expected U.S. sales for the holiday quarter as its low prices attracted more customers to its stores and online activity accelerated. Wal-Mart and Kroger (KR. N) have been aggressively cutting prices to gain market share.

Target's net income slumped to $817 million, or $1.45 per share, in the three months ended Jan. 28, from $1.43 billion, or $2.32 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.51 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The big box retailer's same-store sales fell 1.5 percent, missing analysts' average estimate of a decline of 1.3 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

Trump says 'revved up economy' will pay for budget proposals: Fox WASHINGTON President Donald Trump said he believes the extra $54 billion dollars he has proposed spending on the U.S. military will be offset by a stronger economy as well as cuts in other areas.

Futures flat ahead of Trump's address to Congress U.S. stock index futures were flat on Tuesday but hovered near all-time highs as investors awaited President Donald Trump's speech for details on his agenda for the economy.

JPMorgan expects 2017 expenses to rise about 3.4 percent JPMorgan Chase & Co , the biggest U.S. bank by assets, said it expected 2017 expenses to rise about 3.4 percent as it spends more on technology and in signing up new credit card accounts.

Your money in defense of the courthouse wedding


´╗┐(The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)By Chris TaylorNEW YORK May 21 When Scott Oeth was thinking about proposing to his girlfriend, Linda Hardin, he knew the stats. The average wedding costs in 2014, according to popular website TheKnot.com, were a whopping $31,213. That's when the Minneapolis financial planner thought, No way. Lucky for him, his bride-to-be was thinking exactly the same thing. So last year the couple arranged for a courthouse wedding, a celebratory dinner at their favorite steak house, covered as a gift by his new in-laws, and a backyard BBQ reception later in the summer for 100 guests. Total cost: A paltry $1,250. Oeth, 43, says he wouldn't change a thing. "It was all wonderful, and we had such a great time," he says. "I don't think that most people who spend tens of thousands on traditional weddings could say the same."More newlyweds seem to be thinking like Scott Oeth and Linda Hardin. Courthouse and city hall ceremonies now account for between 3 and 4 percent of marriages, up from 2-3 percent a couple of years ago, according to industry resource The Wedding Report. Financially speaking, toned-down weddings make a ton of sense. After all, think of all the other places newlyweds could spend that money to get their marriage started on the right financial foot, Oeth says.

Fully funding IRAs for both spouses. Paying off high-interest credit cards. Getting rid of student debt. Starting a 529 college-savings plan for young children. Saving up for a down payment on a first home."Expensive weddings are like a subprime mortgage crisis of the heart," says Laurie Essig, associate professor at Vermont's Middlebury College and "Love, Inc." columnist for the magazine Psychology Today. Noting that most young people have student loans, Essig says, "It just doesn't make financial sense to be taking out even more debt to have a lavish wedding."Those typical expenses, according to TheKnot.com (this site), include $14,006 for venue rental, $2,556 for the photographer, $3,587 for the band, and $555 for the cake. In many urban centers, costs can be much higher than those national averages. In Manhattan, for instance, the typical wedding bill comes to a wallet-punishing $76,328.

Of course, it is no mystery why people are so willing to pay through the nose for their Big Day. Marriage is seen as a once-in-a-lifetime moment that couples want to memorialize with one spectacular day. FORGOING EXTRAVAGANCE When you think of financial alternatives to a fancy wedding, it is hard not to see the logic of forgoing the extravagance.

"Of course, it doesn't make sense to spend all that money," says Essig. "But marriage is a magic ritual, and magic will always outweigh more pragmatic stuff, like going down to city hall and filling out forms."Many spouses-to-be are afraid to bring up the idea of shaving wedding costs, for fear of appearing like a cheapskate, hurting their partner's feelings, or angering in-laws at a highly emotional moment. Get over that reticence and have a money conversation, experts say. The so-called wedding-industrial complex may not like it, but there is no law against buying a used dress from a thrift store, or getting a vintage ring, or having the ceremony in a park instead of a grand ballroom, Essig suggests. Even if your wedding is a quick and simple affair, always check local regulations beforehand, advises Christen Moynihan, editorial manager of the website The Broke-Ass Bride (this site). There might be waiting periods after acquiring a marriage license, or specific ID requirements for getting all the necessary approvals, and you do not want to be caught off-guard. A ceremony in front of a justice of the peace might only run a couple of hundred bucks. "There was a time when low-cost weddings and courthouse 'I Dos' were scandalized, but in recent years there has been much higher acceptance for weddings to take place in whatever way the couple envisions," Moynihan says. Scott Oeth and Linda Hardin redirected some of their wedding savings toward a fabulous honeymoon on Kauai. Since they are cost-conscious, they bought a travel package through Costco and got free first-class flight upgrades because of Scott's Delta Medallion status. Total cost for the fairytale honeymoon? Around $3,000.