6 Most Important Things in Business Today

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) lost a key executive when its head of North American operations left due to inappropriate behavior. According to The Wall Street Journal:

A top Ford Motor Co. executive has been fired following misconduct allegations, the latest business leader to be shown the door amid broader scrutiny of workplace behavior in the U.S.

Raj Nair, a 53-year-old Ford veteran who most recently ran the auto company’s profitable North American business, is leaving after an investigation found his behavior was inconsistent with the company’s code of conduct.

Toy “R” Us continues to struggle and will close another large number of stores. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Toys “R” Us Inc . plans to close another 200 stores and lay off a significant portion of its corporate staff following a disappointing holiday sales season, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Wayne, N.J., retailer recently had announced plans to close about 180 stores, affecting approximately 4,500 workers. The latest wave of closings would cut nearly in half the number of U.S. stores it had before its bankruptcy filing, the people said.

One member of the Federal Reserve made glowing remarks about the current economy. According to Bloomberg:

Federal Reserve Governor Randal Quarles delivered an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy and endorsed a “gradual” path for raising interest rates in his first public speech on monetary policy since joining the central bank in October.

“The U.S. economy appears to be performing very well and, certainly, is in the best shape that it has been in since the crisis and, by many metrics, since well before the crisis,” Quarles said in prepared remarks Thursday in Tokyo.

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) will expand into a major new category to be sold via its e-commerce sites. According to CNBC:

Walmart is offering its first glimpse of a redesigned, starting in the home department.

The big-box retailer is preparing to roll out a revamped portion of its website, dedicated to home goods and furnishings. The experience will officially go live within the next few weeks, Walmart said Thursday. The move takes aim at Target, which has been investing heavily in its exclusive home brands; Amazon, which has been doing more of the same; and furniture companies like Wayfair, Stanley Furniture, Ikea and La-Z-Boy.

Opioid addiction has started to affect the labor economy. According to CNNMoney:

There are nearly 6 million job openings in the U.S. and the unemployment rate, at 4.1%, is at a 17-year low. But the share of people working or looking for work still hasn’t recovered from before the recession. Part of the problem: The rise in abuse of prescription painkillers, partially responsible for the 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, has incapacitated thousands of working-age people whom employers would otherwise be eager to hire.

And it’s concerning officials at the highest levels of government. “Curbing the opioid crisis is of critical importance for ensuring a stable or growing employment rate among prime-age workers,” wrote President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors, in its annual economic report.

A major gun company said sales fell last quarter. According to CNNMoney:

Sturm Ruger (NYSE: RGR) on Wednesday reported double-digit drops in gun sales and earnings for the quarter and the year.

Sturm Ruger, one of the major gun manufacturers, said that net sales fell 27% in the fourth quarter of 2017, and profits were nearly cut in half.