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AT&T Inc. (T), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT): To Taper or Not, The Men in Charge Don’t Know the Answer, and Neither Do the Markets

As investors awaited the release of the Federal Reserve’s June meeting minutes, tensions were high, and many hoped to gain some clarity about what the central bank was planning to do with its quantitative easing programs and, more importantly, when it may begin tapering its bond buying. Instead, investors were left just as confused, or maybe even more so, about what the Fed will do after reading the minutes. Half the members of the Fed said they thought bond buying should end this year, while the other half wanted to see meaningful movement with the job market before the Fed begins tapering.

With more uncertainty within the markets, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed lower, though by only 8 points, or 0.06%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both increased, by 0.02% and 0.47%, respectively. The Dow’s 30 components were nearly split down the middle, with 13 moving higher and 17 falling lower. Let’s look at a few of the losers and examine why they didn’t perform well today.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) slid lower by 0.34% today, after the D.C. Council voted to approve a bill that would require the retail giant and other big-box stores to pay employees working in the District a “living wage,” which means the minimum hourly wage would be set at $12.50 an hour. Wal-Mart officials had warned that if the bill passed, they would scrap a number of stores in the city. The bill singles out retailers that have more than 75,000 square feet of retail space and annual corporate revenues of at least $1 billion. Other major cities have passed higher minimum-wage requirements, but none has focused solely on the large retail chains such as this one did.

Shares of both AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) fell by 0.59% and 0.82%, respectively, today as the No. 4 wireless service provider in the U.S., T MOBILE US INC (NYSE:TMUS) announced that it will allow customers to change phones every six months. T-Mobile no longer subsidizes phones and doesn’t require customers to sign long-term contracts, and the new upgrade plan is another attempt to draw in more customers and fight for market share. Participating T-Mobile customers will pay a $10 monthly insurance fee, their monthly service fee, and up to $20 a month until the phone is paid off, in addition to a down payment when they get a new phone. But after six months, they can upgrade with incurring any extra fees, unlike AT&T and Verizon, where customers must pay an early-termination fee if they upgrade before their two-year contract is up. This move, like all of T-Mobile’s as of late, have been aimed at growing its customer base by offering more freedom.

Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow’s winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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