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Activity at LR Port drops in September

The Port of Little Rock worked 29 barges and handled 44,000 tons of cargo in September, a steep drop in activity compared with the same month a year ago.

In September 2019, the Arkansas River port worked 60 barges and handled 90,000 tons of cargo, which port officials at the time called a record for any September in the port's history.

The poor numbers for September also left port activity down 33% year over year. Through the first nine months of 2020, the port worked 286 barges and handled 434,000 tons of cargo. Through the same period a year ago, the numbers were 429 barges and 655,000 tons, respectively.

It "has been quite a challenging year but we are optimistic that activity levels will resume to near normal levels in the first quarter of 2021," Bryan Day, the port's executive director, said in a report to the port's board.

Cargo on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, of which the port is a part, totaled 7.7 million tons through the first nine months of 2020, a 30% increase over the same period a year ago, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

-- Noel Oman

Simmons to report earnings Monday

Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff is scheduled to release third quarter earnings before the stock market opens Monday.

After the release, the bank's management team will hold a conference call at 9 a.m. to discuss the results.

To dial in, call (866) 298-7926 and ask for the Simmons First conference call, ID# 6533868. The call also will be available live or in recorded version on the company's website at www.simmonsbank.com.

Simmons First operates as Simmons Bank in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The company had total assets of about $21.9 billion as of June 30.

-- Andrew Moreau

State index slumps, but Dillard's surges

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 439.67, down 9.06.

Only four index stocks rose Friday. On Wall Street, stocks pared gains Friday afternoon as shares of tech companies fell, tempering optimism that drove the market higher on better-than estimated economic data, including a positive retail sales report for September.

Dillard's shares rose 10.2%, reflecting an 11% increase in spending at retail clothing stores in September from August.

"It's encouraging we are seeing people willing to spend," Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist for Charles Schwab, told Bloomberg News. "If we don't get a stimulus deal, how much longer can that be sustained?"

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

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