What you need to know in markets on Wednesday

Myles Udland

During what’s a slow(ish) week for the U.S. economy, Wednesday will perhaps see the fewest expected highlights, as oil inventories and consumer credit data should be the big stories.

After stocks lost some ground on Tuesday, expect investors to continue a waiting game ahead of three market-moving events on Thursday — testimony on Capitol Hill from former FBI director James Comey, elections in the UK, and the latest monetary policy announcement from the European Central Bank.

On Tuesday, the retail sector was again in the news, with shares of Macy’s (M) falling 7% after issuing a cut in its full-year margin outlook, while G-III Apparel (GIII) shares spiked after earnings, and long-time J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler on Monday afternoon said he would step down from his role at the top of the retailer.

Late Tuesday, Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson reported that Sears (SHLD) would close 72 more stores this year in addition to the 180 the company already announced it would close.

And because no batch of retail news is complete without an update on the competition between Walmart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN), Amazon announced it would offer a discount for its Prime membership for people who receive government assistance.

Jobs everywhere, raises not so much

On Tuesday, we learned that in April there were over 6 million jobs open in the United States, the most on record.

This was according to the job openings and labor turnover survey, or the JOLTS report, which is one of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s favorite economic indicators, a data series that runs back to 2001.

But inside this report, we saw the hiring and separations were lower than in the previous month, indicating that while job openings increase dynamism in the labor market is, if anything, decreasing a bit.

On Friday, we learned that in May the U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs while the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%. The unemployment rate — coupled with labor force flows readings like the falling number of unemployed who are new entrants to the labor market — indicates that things are, indeed, tight in the labor market. Economists expect that this leads to slowing headline job gains and faster wage growth.

Tuesday’s report, however, shows that it isn’t so much that there is “slack” in the labor market in the conventional sense of the term, which indicates there are more workers available for jobs than jobs available to fill, but that the kind of churn you’d like to see in the market to push up wages and productivity gains may not be there.

On a local level, what matters to individuals is whether they have a job, are getting a raise, or could get another job if they wanted a change or needed to move on. And, overall, economic data support the view that things are good for American workers. But Tuesday’s report, while strong on the headline wasn’t quite as strong on the margins and more or less reflects a view of the economy that says things are good, but not quite as good as they could be.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

Read more from Myles here: