Earnings from McDonald's, Microsoft sink stocks
NEW YORK (AP) — Poor earnings reports from three stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average — Microsoft, General Electric and McDonald's — are sending the Dow down more than 100 points, marking a weak end to an otherwise strong week in the stock market.
All three stocks fell about 3 percent, the most among the 30 stocks in the Dow.
In midday trading the Dow was down 133 points at 13,415.
The Standard & Poor's 500 sank 14 points to 1,443 and the Nasdaq composite dropped 43 points to 3,029.
McDonald's profit sank as a strong dollar hurt international results, which account for two-thirds of its business.
Microsoft's income fell 22 percent as PC sales took a dive and troubles in Europe took their toll. General Electric's revenue missed Wall Street's expectations.
US home sales dip 1.7 percent on tight inventory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans bought fewer previously occupied homes in September after hitting a two-year high in August.
The National Association of Realtors says sales dipped 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million. That's down from a rate of 4.83 million in August, which was the highest in more than two years.
Sales are still up 11 percent from a year earlier, further evidence that the housing market is slowly recovering. But sales remain below the more than 5.5 million that economists consider consistent with a healthy market.
The inventory of homes for sale fell in September to 2.32 million. It would take 5.9 months to exhaust the supply at the current sales pace, the lowest sales-to-inventory ratio since March 2006.
US economy from sofa view: fragile, improving
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) — Optimism about an economic recovery is showing up in the U.S. furniture industry, a sector that's lost business as pinched consumers postponed big-ticket purchases.
Commercial buyers stocking furniture stores for the coming months seemed more willing to place orders at the High Point Furniture Market that ended yesterday in North Carolina. But manufacturers say any recovery is fragile and depends on the two-thirds of economic activity created by consumers.
A former furniture manufacturing executive who now heads an e-commerce retailer says there was more optimism at this week's market after the gloom of the past four or five years.
Unemployment rates fall in 7 US swing states
WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates fell or held steady last month in nine key swing states at the center of this year's presidential election.
Rates dropped in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina. They were unchanged in New Hampshire and Virginia.
The declines could help President Barack Obama at a critical time. With just 18 days until Election Day, polls show GOP challenger Mitt Romney gaining momentum with voters.
Overall, the Labor Department says rates fell in 41 states last month, rose in six and were unchanged in three. The national unemployment rate dropped in September to 7.8 percent, the lowest level since Obama's first month in office.
Still, many key states are facing high unemployment. The rate was 11.8 percent in Nevada and 9.6 percent in North Carolina.
Oil prices fall as pipeline supply concerns ease
NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil is falling after TransCanada reaffirmed its plans to restart a pipeline this weekend that carries crude from Canada to the Midwest.
Benchmark oil dropped 47 cents today to $91.63 per barrel in New York.
TransCanada closed the 2,100-mile Keystone pipeline Wednesday after tests showed possible safety issues. A company spokesman says no leaks have been detected. It plans to restart the pipeline tomorrow.
Oil traders largely consider the temporary closure to be a non-issue because U.S. supplies of oil are plentiful. Analysts don't expect any impact on pump prices.
Venture funding declines in 3Q
NEW YORK (AP) — A new study says funding for startups declined 12 percent in the July-September period as venture capitalists spent less money on fewer deals.
A report out today says startup investments totaled $6.49 billion in the third quarter. That's down from $7.34 billion a year earlier, a period that preceded a slew of high-profile initial public offerings from Facebook Inc. and others. Excitement about the IPOs helped drum up excitement about other up-and-coming startups among venture capitalists.
There were 890 deals completed during the quarter, down 10 percent from 992 a year earlier. Companies in software, biotech and information technology received the most money, with software far outpacing the others.
The quarterly MoneyTree study was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data from Thomson Reuters.
Lowe's seeks 2 senior executives
NEW YORK (AP) — Lowe's is seeking to hire two senior level executives that could play a role in its CEO succession plan.
The No. 2 home improvement retailer is looking for a chief merchandising officer and a head of supply chain, two positions left vacant since Lowe's reorganized in May.
Lowe's spokeswoman Chris Ahearn says the company is looking both internally and externally and the people they hire for the roles will likely be in the pool of candidates considered when the company chooses a successor for CEO Robert Niblock.
But she says a report in The Wall Street Journal that the company is seeking to hire a chief merchant who would replace Niblock within three years is incorrect. She says there have been no discussions about Niblock retiring or a three-year timeline.
Chipotle stock gets big chill on growth worries
NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle's stock is taking a big hit from investors worried that years of lightning-fast growth are over.
The burrito maker's stock fell more than 13 percent in morning trading to its lowest point in more than a year.
Late yesterday, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said its third-quarter revenue and net income both grew. But the growth was slower than last year. The company's results missed Wall Street expectations.
Earlier this month, hedge fund manager David Einhorn talked down Chipotle's stock. He said Chipotle faced higher costs for food and employee health care and a big challenge from Yum Brands Inc.'s Taco Bell. Weakening customer traffic could make it hard for Chipotle to raise prices.
Chipotle shares were down $39.34, or 13.8 percent, to $246.59 in late morning trading.
Feds investigate Jeep Patriot stalling problem
DETROIT (AP) — Federal safety regulators are investigating complaints that Jeep Patriot SUV engines can stall without warning at highway speeds.
The probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration affects about 112,000 Patriots from the 2011 and 2012 model years.
The U.S. safety agency says it received a dozen complaints about stalling. There was one crash and two people were hurt.
Ten of the incidents occurred while the Jeeps were going 65 miles per hour or faster. In eight cases the Patriots could not be restarted.
The safety agency says the trend appears to be growing with all but three of the complaints coming in the past six months.
Investigators will determine whether the problem is bad enough to order a recall.
A spokesman for Jeep brand owner Chrysler says the company is looking into the matter.
GRACO-CAR SEAT BUCKLES
Feds probe complaints about Graco car seat buckles
DETROIT (AP) — Federal safety regulators are investigating complaints that children have been trapped in Graco car seats because the buckles won't unlatch.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the probe covers My Ride and Nautilus seats from 2009 through 2011.
The agency says it has 25 reports of problems from consumers. Some had to force the buckle open. Three told the agency they had to cut the harness to free their child. Six more say they had to pull the child through the harness.
No injuries have been reported.
The agency did not say how many car seats were affected. Investigators will decide if the seats should be recalled. They have asked Graco for information about other seats with the same parts.
A message was left for a Graco spokeswoman.