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A daily audio report of top news stories is now available each weekday from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The idea for a daily report was sparked by the popularity of "smart speakers" like Amazon's Alexa and an effort by the newspaper to reach more consumers, said Jay Horton, president of the digital division of WEHCO Media, owner of the newspaper.

The report, which can be reached through the "listen" tab on the newspaper's main webpage at arkansasonline.com, has been available since Jan. 22. "The best-selling electronics component is smart speakers," Horton said. "We wanted to reach out to those buyers and get our content to them. We've gone from, well, nothing to hundreds of listeners."

The files are available through iHeartRadio, Spotify, Google Play or Apple Podcasts.

Each day's audio report is about three minutes long, with segments on the day's weather and news.

For now, the reports are available only Monday through Friday but could be expanded into weekends and into a "longer form of storytelling" similar to podcasts, Horton said.

-- Stephen Steed

Walmart's website adds furniture line

Walmart Inc. has added a new furniture brand, called MoDRN, to its online product assortment, the company said in a news release Friday.

The furniture line is only available through Walmart's website as well as Jet.com and Hayneedle.com, also owned by the Bentonville retailer. Nearly 650 items make up the collection, and new furniture and decor will be added seasonally, according to the release.

Anthony Soohoo, senior vice president and group general manager of the home category for Walmart U.S. e-commerce, said in the release that since last year's redesign of the home portion of the company's website, visits are up 35 percent. Also, most visitors to the site are spending more time there, he said.

While last year's focus was on creating a specialty shopping experience online, Soohoo said, the emphasis this year is on growing product assortment. He said hundreds of thousands of products have been added to Walmart.com Home in the past year, and the new brand will form a core part of that category.

-- Serenah McKay

Index declines 0.72 as 11 stocks retreat

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, dropped 0.72 to 408.91 Friday.

Eleven stocks declined and four advanced.

P.A.M. Transportation gained 6.2 percent in light trading. Tyson Foods declined about 1 percent on average volume.

Total volume for the index was 22.1 million shares. The average daily volume for the week was 21 million shares.

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

Business on 02/09/2019

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