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Lowe's Companies said Friday it plans to hire more than 65,000 people in 2019, including more than 50,000 seasonal hires and nearly 10,000 permanent positions, in an effort to improve customer service and product availability. The stock rose 2.8% in afternoon trade. In the fiscal year ended Feb. 2, 2018, Lowe's had about 310,000 employees, according to the home improvement retailer's latest annual report. The new hires will also include about 6,000 full-time assistant store managers and more than 2,000 technology roles. "We are sharpening our focus on retail fundamentals and simplifying our business," said Chief Executive Marvin Ellison. As part of its plan to simplify operation, the company said it has reduced some in-store support functions, including discontinuing its Project Specialist Interiors program. The announcement comes a month after the company said it would close 51 underperforming stores and other locations, and announced a new $10 billion stock repurchase program. The stock has shed 15.3% over the past three months, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has lost 13.2% and the S&P 500 has declined 12.9%. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.