Stocks little changed as earnings fail to inspire
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were flat on Wall Street Wednesday as the latest round of earnings reports failed to give investors reason to push the market's recent rally forward.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended with a gain of seven points at 13,986. It was down as much as 66 points in the early going.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index eked out a gain of just under a point to end at 1,512. The Nasdaq composite edged down three points to 3,168.
Time Warner rose 4 percent after the company said its net income grew 51 percent in the last three months of 2012. Ralph Lauren also rose sharply after posting solid results.
Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was about average at 3.5 billion shares.
China, Japan lead Asian stocks lower
HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets are in retreat today, led by declines in Japan that followed a huge rally and China, which was preparing to shut down for a weeklong holiday.
Japan's Nikkei fell more than one percent as investors cashed in gains after the benchmark hit its highest point since Sept. 2008 in Wednesday's session. The rally was sparked by the weakness of the yen. The currency is regaining some strength today, with the dollar buying 93.46 yen, down from 93.68 yen the day before.
Asia's other big loser was the benchmark Shanghai Composite in mainland China, which lost 1.3 percent. Chinese investors were most likely closing out their positions ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday next week.
In energy markets, benchmark crude for March delivery was up 16 cents to $96.78 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Jobless claims, mortgage rates due
WASHINGTON — On today's economic calendar, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims along with fourth-quarter productivity data.
Freddie Mac will release weekly mortgage rates, and, this afternoon, the Federal Reserve releases consumer credit data for December.
Netflix could gain from loss of Sat. mail delivery
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix won't miss Saturday mail delivery, even though the weekend service helped keep the company's DVD-by-mail subscribers happy.
The U.S. Postal Service's planned shift to reduce home delivery to five days a week instead of six might even make Netflix Inc. slightly more profitable by lowering the costs for sending out its familiar red envelopes with DVDs. That's because subscribers may be able to watch fewer DVDs for the same monthly price.
It might have been different if Saturday mail service had been eliminated three years ago, when idea was first broached.
Back then, mailing DVDs was still Netflix's main business. But Netflix's DVD subscribers have shrunk from a 2011 peak of 24. 6 million to 8.2 million as more people pay to watch video streamed over the Internet.
Visa's income jumps; News Corp. posts higher earnings; Sony trims loss
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two corporations are beating expectations with earnings reports out today, while Japan's Sony struggles to get back on track.
Visa says its profit jumped 25 percent in the last three months of 2012 as consumers racked up more credit card debt and used their debit cards more often. Visa reports its net income totaled $1.3 billion, or $1.93 per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31. Revenue rose nearly 12 percent to $2.85 billion.
Meanwhile, News Corp. says earnings for the last three months of 2012 grew, helped by higher revenue at its pay TV networks and gains from acquisitions. The Media conglomerate controlled by CEO Rupert Murdoch says it earned $2.38 billion, or $1.01 per share, in the fiscal second quarter. Both figure are considerably higher than a year earlier.
And Sony says it has reduced its red ink for the latest quarter to a $115 million loss. The Japanese electronics and entertainment company reported quarterly sales inched up nearly 7 percent to $21 billion despite declining sales of gadgets such as flat-panel TVs and Blu-ray video recorders. Sony got a boost from a weaker yen.
Plywood maker Boise Cascade soars after IPO
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Riding a U.S. housing recovery and a booming stock market, Boise Cascade, a maker of plywood and other building materials, jumped 25 percent in its market debut Wednesday.
It's the latest solid first-day gain for an IPO, boding well for other companies that want to raise money by going public. Cruise company Norwegian Cruise Line rose 30 percent in its Jan. 18 debut, and has kept rising. Child care provider Bright Horizons gained 27 percent on Jan. 25. Homebuilder Tri Pointe added 12 percent on Jan. 31.
Francis Gaskins, president of researcher IPOdesktop, says "it's a very healthy IPO market" and "the lake is rising in terms of the stock market that brings in IPOs, and in that context, IPOs generally do quite well."
The Dow Jones industrial average, a stock market bellwether, had closed above 14,000 on Friday for the first time since the financial crisis.
Ireland dissolves 'bad bank' in midnight debt move
DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland's red-eyed lawmakers have voted to dissolve one of the country's "bad banks" in an emergency measure designed to pave the way for a new debt-repayment deal with the European Central Bank.
Lawmakers in both chambers of Ireland's parliament overwhelmingly voted to liquidate the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., or IBRC, at the conclusion of debates that started just after midnight and concluded just before 6 a.m. Thursday.
Ireland's head of state, President Michael D. Higgins, was summoned back from the start of a three-day visit to Italy to sign the bill into law.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan told lawmakers they had to approve the measure before Ireland's court system opened Thursday because of the risk that private creditors of the state-owned debt management bank would file lawsuits to block or complicate the bank's dismantling.
Ireland plans to transfer IBRC's property-based assets worth $17 billion to the nation's other toxic-debt management bank, the National Asset Management Agency.
Barclays to lay off 275 employees at NYC offices
NEW YORK (AP) — Barclays Capital says it plans to lay off 275 employees at three offices in New York.
The investment bank disclosed the plans Wednesday to the Department of Labor, which posted the details on its website.
Barclays says the layoffs will take place during a 14-day period beginning May 15.
The company listed economic factors as the reason for the layoffs.
The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers of companies with 100 workers or more to provide notice 60 days in advance of a plant closing or mass layoffs.
Barclays Capital is the investment banking division of British lender Barclays PLC.
In October, Barclays PLC reported a net loss of $322 million for the third quarter.
United cuts 787 from February schedule
CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines is taking the troubled Boeing 787 out of its flying plans for the rest of this month.
United says it has replaced its six 787s with other planes. U.S. regulators grounded the 787s last month after two battery incidents.
United Continental Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Megan McCarthy says the plane swaps include new flights from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria, which were supposed to switch to a 787 in late January. She says United still plans to start new flights from Denver to Tokyo's Narita airport on March 31.
Japan's All Nippon Airways on Wednesday canceled its 787 flying through March 30.
Federal officials say it could be weeks before they know what caused a 787 battery fire last month.
Yahoo taps into Google's ad network, expertise
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo is counting on rival Google to help accelerate its revenue growth.
As part of an arrangement announced Wednesday, Yahoo's website will begin drawing upon Google's massive online advertising network to show marketing messages related to the content that's being perused.
Google Inc. already distributes similar ads to thousands of websites, a service that has helped establish it as the Internet's most prosperous company.
Yahoo Inc. has been struggling to attract more advertisers in recent years, even though more marketing budgets have been shifting to the Internet.
Google retains part of the revenue generated from the ads shown on its partners' sites. The revenue split with Yahoo wasn't disclosed.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer worked as one of Google's top executive before being lured away nearly seven months ago.
ACCOUNTING FIRM THEFT
Ex accounting partner charged in $4m NY theft
NEW YORK (AP) — A longtime partner at the New York offices of a Chicago-based accounting firm has been arrested. He's charged with stealing nearly $4 million in client payments destined for the firm.
Authorities said 59-year-old Craig Haber was arrested Wednesday at his Manhattan apartment.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (bah-RAHR'-ah) says Haber is accused of betraying his partners at Grant Thornton by deceiving clients.
Authorities said he instructed clients between 2004 and last July to send checks to him rather than the firm's headquarters.
He was released on $500,000 bail. His lawyer, Michael Bachner, declined to comment.
The firm said it immediately reported the allegations to authorities and cooperated fully.
If convicted of mail fraud, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
TUNNELING NEW YORK
New York expanding nation's biggest transit hub
NEW YORK (AP) — Sixteen stories below Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, an army of workers has blasted through bedrock for a new commuter rail concourse with more floor space than New Orleans' Superdome.
It's one of three bold projects under way below New York City that will expand what's already the nation's biggest mass transit system by 2019.
The 350,000-square-foot concourse below Grand Central will accommodate Long Island Rail Road trains now bypassing the East Side on their way to Penn Station on the West Side.
On Manhattan's far East Side, the Second Avenue Subway is being built to ease rider congestion on Lexington Avenue trains.
And an extension of the No. 7 subway line will open next year from Times Square to a huge new West Side development called Hudson Yards.