Stocks close lower in anticipation of earnings reports
NEW YORK (AP) —U.S. stocks closed lower yesterday as traders awaited the start of the corporate earnings season.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 55.44 points, or 0.4 percent, to 13,328.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.74, or 0.3 percent, to 1,457.15. The Nasdaq composite index shed 7.01, or 0.2 percent, to 3,091.81.
Alcoa reported its fourth-quarter financial results after the market closed, marking the unofficial kickoff to weeks of earnings announcements from U.S. companies. The aluminum maker said its revenue results exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts, while per-share earnings were roughly in line with expectations. Alcoa rose 20 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $9.30 in late trading.
Alcoa is traditionally the first of the 30 companies in the Dow average to report earnings.
Market-watchers expect the quarter's results could include many surprises because of events like Superstorm Sandy, the presidential election, and the narrowly avoided tax increases and spending cuts known collectively as the "fiscal cliff."
Asia stocks rise as Alcoa sees stronger demand
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets rose Wednesday after the fourth-quarter earnings season got off to a positive start in the U.S. with aluminum giant Alcoa forecasting higher demand for 2013.
Demand for aluminum has been hurt by the weak global economy, but Alcoa predicted a 7 percent increase in demand this year, slightly better than the 6 percent increase in 2012. Because Alcoa makes aluminum for so many key industries, investors study its results for clues about the health and direction of the overall economy.
The price of oil fell below $93 Wednesday after unemployment in the countries that use the euro rose to its highest level since the single currency was founded.
Benchmark oil for February delivery was down 19 cents to $92.96 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 4 cents to finish at $93.15 a barrel in New York.
Euro falls on Europe's unemployment woes
NEW YORK (AP) — The euro fell against the dollar yesterday as the unemployment rate in the countries that use the euro rose to the highest level since the single currency was founded.
Traders also sold the euro as industrial orders fell in Germany.
Unemployment in the 17 countries that make up the euro zone rose to 11.8 percent in November from 11.7 percent in October. That's the highest since the euro was founded in 1999.
Germany said industrial orders fell more than expected in November due to weaker foreign demand. German exports also fell.
The euro fell to $1.3084 in late trading Tuesday from $1.3112 late Monday.
The British pound fell to $1.6059 from $1.6107.
The dollar rose to 0.9239 Swiss franc from 0.9216 Swiss franc and to 98.71 Canadian cents from 98.63 Canadian cents.
The dollar fell to 87.19 Japanese yen from 87.84 yen.
AIG board weighing joining suit against US
NEW YORK (AP) — American International Group Inc. says its board of directors will weigh whether to take part or try to block a shareholder lawsuit against the U.S. over the government's $182 billion bailout of the insurer.
AIG said that its directors will take up the matter on Wednesday and expects they will have a decision by the end of the month.
Starr International Co. Inc., the investment firm of ex-AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the firm and AIG shareholders.
The complaint asserts that the government didn't provide shareholders just compensation when it took a nearly 80 percent stake in the insurer as part of its 2008 bailout.
AIG's board must consider whether to take over the lawsuit or allow Starr to continue to pursue the complaint.
Joblessness dips below 7 percent in most cities
WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates fell below 7 percent in a majority of U.S. cities in November, suggesting steady job gains are benefiting most parts of the country.
The Labor Department said yesterday that rates fell in November from October in 215 of the 372 largest metro areas. Rates were unchanged in 33 and rose in 124.
Rates dropped below 7 percent in 192 cities. That's the first time since the recession ended that more than half of large cities had rates below that threshold. And 52 had rates below 5 percent.
Major metropolitan areas with low unemployment rates in November included: Oklahoma City, 4.5 percent; New Orleans, 4.7 percent; Washington, 5 percent; Boston, 5.6 percent; and Phoenix, 6.5 percent.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.8 percent in November from 7.9 percent the previous month. That occurred mostly because more Americans out of work gave up looking for jobs and were not counted as unemployed.
GADGET SHOW-SMART TVS
Smart TVs get smarter, by just a little bit
LAS VEGAS (AP) — In the not-so-distant future, couch potatoes will be waving, pointing, swiping and tapping to make their TVs react, kind of like what Tom Cruise did in the 2002 movie "Minority Report." That's the vision of TV manufacturers as they show off "smart TVs" at the International CES in Las Vegas.
The sets will recognize who's watching and will try to guess what viewers want to see. They'll respond to more natural speech and will connect with your smartphone in a single touch.
But don't worry about "Big Brother" looking back at you. Manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. will allow motion-capturing cameras to be pointed away.
Gesture recognition still has a ways to go and in some demonstrations, voice commands got lost in translation.
Super Bowl ads selling as high as $4 million
NEW YORK (AP) — Super Bowl ads have sold for more than $4 million for some 30-second spots for this year's game.
All the commercials for the NFL championship Feb. 3 in New Orleans are sold out, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said Tuesday.
Companies paid an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot last year, the previous record for a number that keeps going up. TV's biggest event averaged more than 111 million viewers in 2012.
For CBS, the entire company is taking part in promoting the Super Bowl. The network's telecasts will be headquartered in New Orleans' Jackson Square. The sets will be used by 15 different shows from nine CBS divisions, from the main network to cable channels to online to radio.
"We've never done anything like this before," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said.
That list includes the daytime show "The Talk," which will broadcast from the city the week leading up to the game to try to take advantage of the Super Bowl's large female viewership.
Detroit mayor says takeover decision could come Friday
DETROIT (AP) — Mayor Dave Bing says that a review team scrutinizing Detroit's poor finances could make a recommendation this week that will help determine whether there's a state takeover of the city.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed the team last month after Detroit was slow to fulfill promises to the state in a deal that allowed the city to avoid having an emergency manager take over its finances.
If the team determines Detroit is in a financial emergency, Snyder could appoint an emergency manager. Bing, a Democrat, would have 10 days to appeal.
Bing told reporters yesterday, "I think the review team — maybe on the 11th or so — will go back to the governor with a recommendation."
"Our goal is to keep going forward," he said. "I've said from the very beginning, we didn't want an emergency manager."
$1 million donations wanted for Obama inauguration
WASHINGTON (AP) — Planners of President Barack Obama's second inauguration are making an unprecedented solicitation for high-dollar contributions to help pay for the celebration.
They're asking for donations of up to $1 million to help fund the events surrounding the inaugural on Jan. 21. Such donation packages, which come with special access, are a far cry from the policy of Obama's first inauguration to accept contributions up to only $50,000 from individuals.
The pressure is high to pay for the festivities after donors already contributed to the most expensive campaign in U.S. history. More than 400 individuals and a handful of corporations have so far contributed $200 or more to the inaugural committee. But the committee won't be listing how much they've given until weeks after the event, another about-face from 2009.
CLEARWIRE-DISH NETWORK OFFER
Dish Network makes $5.15B bid for Clearwire
NEW YORK (AP) — Satellite TV provider Dish Network is offering to buy wireless network operator Clearwire — which agreed to sell itself to Sprint in December — for $3.30 per share, or $5.15 billion.
Clearwire Corp. said it will discuss the unsolicited offer with Dish. However Sprint, which owns 51 percent of Clearwire, said it would have to sign off on Dish's offer and that it does not intend to do so.
Under the proposed deal, Dish Network Corp. would buy about 24 percent of Clearwire's spectrum assets for $2.2 billion, and Clearwire would build and manage a wireless network for Dish. Dish would also provide up to $800 million in additional financing to the struggling Clearwire.
In December Sprint Nextel Corp. offered to buy the remaining 49 percent of the Bellevue, Wash., company for $2.90 per share. It later raised the offer to $2.97 per share, or $2.2 billion. Sprint is third-largest U.S. cellphone company and it depends on Clearwire to provide high speed Sprint 4G data services on some of its phones. Some of Clearwire's shareholders oppose the sale, saying Clearwire could get a better price.
Dish Network, which is based in Englewood, Colo., confirmed it made the offer and said it is looking forward to discussions with Clearwire. Sprint said