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Walmart set to take virus precautions

Walmart Inc. is taking new steps to protect employees and customers from the coronavirus, including installing plastic-glass barriers at its store pharmacy lanes and registers. The sneeze guards will go up over the next two to three weeks, the company said late Tuesday.

Grocery chains Kroger, Albertsons and Florida grocery chain Publix also have said they are installing the partitions at their registers.

Dacona Smith, chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., said in a news release that "installing these barriers is another way Walmart is helping bring peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to keep our people and our stores safe."

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In addition, the Bentonville retailer will install floor decals 6 feet apart at store entrances and checkout lanes to help customers judge the federally recommended distance from one another. The decals will be put in place over the next week.

Walmart employees will have free use through June of an app that lets them access up to half their earned wages each week despite a two-week pay period. Walmart also is waiving the $4 fee for employee telehealth services.

-- Serenah McKay

Simmons bank to air first-quarter results

Simmons First National Corp. has scheduled its first-quarter 2020 earnings announcement on April 21 before the stock market opens.

The bank's management team will hold a live conference call to review the earnings information at 9 a.m. the same day. Those interested can dial into the call toll-free at (866) 298-7926, conference ID 5979394.

In addition, the call will be available live or in recorded version on the company's website at

Simmons First has headquarters in Pine Bluff and has assets of about $21.3 billion. The bank operates in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Simmons shares fell 35 cents, or 2%, to close Wednesday at $17.10.

-- Andrew Moreau

Car-Mart up 11.4%, but index ends flat

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Wednesday at 320.17, up 0.83.

"Equities closed higher for a second consecutive day for the first time since Feb. 12 despite a late- afternoon sell-off over a possible delay in approval of the Senate stimulus bill as the industrials and energy sector outperformed," said Leon Lants, managing director of Stephens Inc. in Little Rock."

Shares of America's Car-Mart rose 11.4%. J.B. Hunt Transport Services shares rose 6.6%.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 03/26/2020

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