Retailers, Rails Bring Market Down
Business Roundup for Thursday, January 16
NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers and railroads are taking some of the biggest hits on Wall Street today. Investors are reacting to disappointing earnings from Best Buy and a poor outlook from CSX. The Dow was down nearly 75 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 was a few points below yesterday’s record high close. The Nasdaq has been wavering between small gains and losses.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Shares in Best Buy are sharply lower today after the consumer electronics retailer reported a 0.8 percent drop in sales during the holiday shopping season. Analysts had been expecting growth. President and CEO Hubert Joly (HYOO’-behr joh-LEE’) says there was a lot of competition on price during the holidays and an “intensely promotional” environment. He says Best Buy’s business was also hurt by supply constraints for key products, a drop in customer traffic and a disappointing mobile phone market.
UNDATED (AP) — U.S. homebuilders have lost a little confidence in the housing market this month, but remain generally upbeat. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index dipped to 56. That’s down from December’s reading of 57, but any reading above 50 indicates more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says it plans to sell 410,000 shares of Ally Financial for $3 billion as part of its ongoing effort to recoup the costs of the financial bailout. After the completion of the stock sale, the department says the U.S. government will have recovered about $15.3 billion, or 89 percent of the $17.2 billion it provided to Ally during the financial crisis. The government will still hold about 37 percent of the bank holding company’s stock.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — The Carlyle Group is offering Johnson & Johnson $4.15 billion for its Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business. Ortho-Clinical makes equipment for screening blood supplies and detecting and diagnosing conditions such as HIV, diabetes and high cholesterol. Johnson & Johnson says it will consult with works councils and trade unions representing the unit’s employees before making a decision. It has until the end of March to accept the offer.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jobless claims are down again. The Labor Department says the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped 13,500 to 335,000. More than 4.7 million Americans collected benefits at the end of last year, a figure that has declined by almost 1.2 million over the past 12 months.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Higher gasoline prices push the consumer price index higher last month. The Labor Department says it rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent. However, when the volatile food and energy categories are excluded, inflation was tame 0.1 percent. For the year, consumer prices rose just 1.5 percent. That’s below the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent.
NEW YORK (AP) — Two big banks are offering mixed earnings news. Citigroup is reporting fourth-quarter earnings increased 21 percent, but the results fell short of analysts’ expectations as its bond and mortgage businesses weakened. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs says its fourth-quarter profit dropped 21 percent, though per share earnings beat expectations. Both banks saw their bond and mortgage businesses weaken.
UNDATED (AP) — UnitedHealth Group says its fourth-quarter earnings rose 15 percent, topping Wall Street expectations. The nation’s largest health insurer booked a sizeable gain from a business that doesn’t sell insurance. However, UnitedHealth shares have slipped more than 2 percent, with investors worried that funding for Medicare Advantage plans could be scaled back to help pay for the new health care law.
HONG KONG (AP) — International stock markets struggled today as they fought to scrape out more gains a day after a key U.S. benchmark climbed to a new high on strong earnings and economic data. Asia markets were relatively muted as they closed, after they failed to sustain gains earlier in the day. Markets in France and Germany dipped while the British exchange was nearly unchanged in early trading. The dollar edged up against the yen and fell against the euro. Benchmark crude oil fell to near $94 a barrel.
UNDATED (AP) — The government’s weekly jobless claims number will be released today. That could move the markets. The Consumer Price Index for December will also be available. Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates today, and the National Association of Home Builders will release January’s housing market index. There are also a slew of quarterly earnings reports.
MILAN (AP) — European car sales have dropped for the sixth straight year. The European carmaker’s association says sales of new cars shrank 1.7 percent to 11.8 million last year. That’s the lowest level since 1995 and a 26 percent contraction from 2007 sales. But the group says there was a 13.3 percent surge in sales in December.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A case in a Southern California traffic court today could help shape future laws on wearable technology. Software developer Cecilia Abadie is believed to be the first person cited for wearing Google Glass, the computer-in-an-eyeglass, while driving. She’s pleaded not guilty. She was pulled over in October on suspicion of speeding on a San Diego freeway. The officer saw she was wearing Google Glass and tacked on a citation for driving while a video or TV screen is on in the front of the vehicle.
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