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Consumers, banks, and industrials — What you need to know in markets on Friday

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

After two wild days of trading to start the week, Thursday was more muted.

A more than 2% decline in shares of Boeing (BA) dragged down the Dow on Thursday while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also lost ground.

On Friday, the first week of earnings season will conclude with a few big reports from the financial sector as well as some updates from major industrial names. Headline earnings reports expected Friday are due out from Synchrony Financial (SYF) — the financing arm spun out from General Electric (GE) in 2014 — SunTrust (STI), Schlumberger (SLB), and Kansas City Southern (KSU).

Kansas City Southern earnings will give investors a sense of the U.S. corporate sector’s read on the economic relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.

Both Schlumberger and Kansas City Southern’s calls will be notable for potential commentary on the oil industry from Schlumberger and any color on how corporates are viewing a potential change in NAFTA from Kansas City Southern, a company as sensitive to the Mexican economy as any.

On the economics side, the week will finish up with a reading on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.

Amazon names 20 potential homes, but one stands out

Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, Amazon (AMZN) was the day’s biggest business story after the company released a list of the 20 cities still in play to house its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. This location is not meant to replace its original Seattle location, but serve as a second headquarters equal in size to the Seattle home base. The company has said it will hire 50,000 workers for this location.

This list included three locations in the greater DC metro area — Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, Maryland, and Northern Virginia.

And that two of these are not cities, but regions, shows that while the retail giant has clearly made this bidding process for its next headquarters an exercise in trying to extract the most generous tax breaks from municipalities, in a perfect world Amazon would just plant its HQ2 in the nation’s capital. Or at least, close by.

As demographer Lyman Stone noted on Twitter on Thursday, this list makes clear that Amazon’s initial criteria — which included access to international airports with daily flights to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, and D.C. — was heavily weighted towards access to D.C.

Three bids from the Washington, D.C., area made it to the final list for Amazon’s second headquarters, the highest representation among all regions.

And while the company had also highlighted the desire to be in a metro of over 1 million people, with colleges nearby to provide tech talent, a “stable and business-friendly environment,” not all of these criteria were created equal. It’s also not surprising that so many of the finalist cities are concentrated in the eastern part of the continent, with several of the finalists within a 90-minute flight of Washington, D.C. — Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Newark, New Jersey, New York City, Boston, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Toronto. Even at the outset of this process, it would’ve been a surprise to see Amazon double down on the West Coast.

Additionally, CEO Jeff Bezos’ connections to DC cannot be ignored — Bezos owns The Washington Post through his personal investment fund, and Bezos also bought a 27,000 square foot property in the city last year

But it should also not come as a total surprise that Amazon, one of the company’s most-often targeted by President Donald Trump, is looking towards the nation’s capital as a place to solidify its presence. Like all major companies, Amazon has plenty of lobbying presence in D.C., but looking out to the next ten or twenty years of the relationship between U.S. policymaker and businesses, it seems likely the cozy relationship the tech sector has enjoyed with government changes. At least in some form.

And while Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) have both taken criticism from lawmakers for their role in spreading misinformation during the 2016 presidential election, Amazon’s size and questions about whether some of its business practices are anti-competitive are not likely to go away in years to come.

The relationship between companies and sectors and the government will ebb and flow over time. But as Amazon takes an even more central role in selling American consumers goods and ventures into potentially more lucrative spaces like pharmaceuticals, the government isn’t likely to ignore the power the company enjoys.

And being more closely embedded in a city which, right now, has no major corporate identity could be the kind of forward-thinking strategy that CEO Jeff Bezos has employed along the way to make himself the richest man in the world.

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

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