Business Roundup for Tuesday, February 18

Backhoes are seen after clearing Wall Street of snow (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are ending mostly higher on Wall Street as traders get back to work after a long holiday weekend. Health care stocks rose Tuesday following a big merger in the pharmaceutical sector. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 1,840. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,130. The Dow was held back by Coca-Cola, which fell 4 percent after reporting disappointing results. The Nasdaq composite increased 28 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,272. Forest Laboratories jumped 28 percent after another drugmaker, Actavis, agreed to buy the company for $25 billion. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.71 percent from 2.75 percent. Markets were closed Monday for Presidents' Day.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) — President Barack Obama says his administration will issue tougher fuel-efficiency standards for delivery trucks by March 2016. Speaking at a Maryland distribution center for Safeway, Obama said heavy-duty trucks make up just 4 percent of the vehicles on the nation's roadways, but are responsible for about 20 percent of the climate-changing gases spewed into the atmosphere by the transportation sector. He says the new fuel-efficiency standards will help reduce emissions and save consumers money.

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Boeing has picked Everett, Wash., as the site to build wings for its new 777X aircraft. The company says the wing center will sustain thousands of area jobs in the years to come. Construction on the new facility is scheduled to begin later this year. Boeing reached a union contract extension earlier this year that required the company to make parts for and assemble the 777X composite wings in the Puget Sound region.

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A Delaware bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of the remaining assets of failed electric-vehicle maker Fisker Automotive to a Chinese auto-parts conglomerate. California-based Fisker had planned to build cars at the former General Motors plant in Delaware, but it filed for bankruptcy protection in November. The bankruptcy ended a downward spiral that began after it received a $529 million loan commitment from the Obama administration in 2010.

CHICAGO (AP) — A new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates many job seekers have dropped out of the labor force by choice. The global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas finds the biggest decline in labor force participation is among 16- to 19-year-olds. It's down to a record low 30 percent. Of the 11.6 million teens not in the labor force, only about 8 percent said they want a job. Less than one percent indicated they were discouraged.


UNDATED (AP) — U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the housing market has fallen with the snow this month. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index slid to 46. That's down from January's reading of 56 and the lowest level since May. Readings below 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as poor rather than good.

NEW YORK (AP) — Actavis PLC plans to buy fellow drugmaker Forest Laboratories in a cash-and-stock deal worth about $25 billion. The deal would create a combined company spanning both generic and branded drugs, including Forest's Alzheimer's treatment Namenda and the antidepressant Lexapro. Shares of the New York-based Forest Labs soared in morning trading to well above the price Actavis has offered, suggesting that shareholders believe Forest Labs will receive a better offer.

NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola's fourth-quarter profit fell. The world's biggest beverage maker says its global sales volume rose, but in North America sales dropped 1 percent. Noncarbonated drinks such as Powerade performed well, but that was offset by a 3 percent decline in soda. Americans have been cutting back on soda bit by bit for years, and Coca-Cola has been looking for new ways to grow as a result. Earlier this month, Coke said it was buying a stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Shares were off 4 percent in early trading.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy is reporting a 58 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit after raising its rates and getting a strong performance from operations in Brazil. Duke earned $688 million and, excluding one-time charges, posted net income of $1 per share. That topped Wall Street expectations by a nickel.

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Japan led Asian stock markets higher today after the country's central bank announced new measures to support growth. European markets have been lower. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $101 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Association of Home Builders' housing market index for February has dropped below 50, and indication that more builders view sales conditions as poor rather than good. It's the only major economic report due out today. Tomorrow, the government will reveal how many housing starts there were in January. It'll also release January's Producer Price Index. Also Tuesday, the Fed will release the minutes of last month's interest-rate meeting.

BRUSSELS (AP) — France's finance minister says Europeans are pushing ahead with the introduction of a financial transaction tax and want to present a plan by May. The minister says the aim is to craft "realistic and solid" legislation before the European Parliament elections. Officials started pushing for the tax following the global financial crisis to curb excessive speculation and recoup following the government bailouts of the banking industry.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's shaping up to be a battle much like the one fought by California wineries in their infancy. This time it's about olive oil. The tiny California olive industry says European olive oil filling U.S. shelves often is mislabeled and lower-grade oil, and they're pushing for more federal scrutiny. One congressman-farmer even goes so far as suggesting labels on imported oil should say "extra rancid" rather than "extra virgin."

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