NEW YORK (AP) — A jump in home sales and strong earnings from Home Depot helped the Dow claw back more than half of its losses from Monday. Improving consumer confidence also brought back buyers to the market.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 116 points to 13,900. The Dow fell 216 points the day before, its biggest drop in three months, on concern that the European debt crisis may flare up again. The index has moved 100 points or more on four out of the past five trading days.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9 to 1,497. The Nasdaq composite was up 13 to close at 3,130.
Asian stocks mostly up
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets mostly rose today after the Federal Reserve chief played down risks from the U.S. central bank's low interest rate policies, offsetting worries that Italy's indecisive election result will rekindle Europe's debt crisis.
In testimony to Congress on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed confidence that the central bank's low-rate policies currently pose little risk of causing runaway inflation or a stock market bubble. That eased recent jitters the Fed would start to withdraw its super easy monetary policy.
U.S. economic indicators also gave Asian markets a lift.
The dollar was little changed against the euro but slipped against the yen.
Benchmark crude oil rose but remained below $93 a barrel.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Fed chief to testify, Durable orders numbers coming
WASHINGTON (AP) — Looking at the major business and economic events coming up today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke goes before the House Financial Services Committee. He'll be testifying about monetary policy and the economy.
Yesterday, Bernanke told Congress the Federal Reserve's low-interest-rate policies are giving crucial support to an economy still burdened by high unemployment.
The Fed chairman acknowledged the risks of keeping rates low indefinitely. But he expressed confidence that such risks pose little threat now.
Also on the economic calendar for today, the Commerce Department releases its report on durable goods for January. And the National Association of Realtors releases the pending home sales index.
Suits: More water, less buzz in Bud, Michelob beer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Beer lovers across the U.S. have accused Anheuser-Busch of watering down its Budweiser, Michelob and other brands, in class-action suits seeking millions in damages.
The suits, filed in Pennsylvania, California and other states, claim consumers have been cheated out of the alcohol content stated on labels. Budweiser and Michelob each boast of being 5 percent alcohol, while some "light" versions are said to be just over 4 percent.
The lawsuits are based on information from former employees at the company's 13 U.S. breweries, some in high-level plant positions, according to lead lawyer Josh Boxer of San Rafael, Calif.
Boxer says the excess water is added just before bottling and cuts the stated alcohol content by 3 percent to 8 percent.
Anheuser-Busch InBev called the claims "groundless" and said its beers fully comply with labeling laws.
Budweiser maker InBev reports lower 4Q profit
AMSTERDAM (AP) — Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world's largest brewer, says its profits fell 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter, due mostly to losses on foreign exchange rates.
Net profit was $1.76 billion), down from $1.85 billion in the same period a year ago. But revenues rose 8.8 percent to $10.3 billion, and operating profit rose 10.7 percent, the company said.
The Leuven, Belgium-based maker of Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Beck's said it expects weak first quarter volumes in the United States, its most profitable market, as consumers there have less pocket money and weather is worse than a year ago.
It also expects "softness" in Brazil, where it has a 68.5 percent market share with brands Skol, Brahma and Antarctica, due to an early carnival and wet weather.
Airbus parent EADS sees 4Q earnings fall
BERLIN (AP) — Airbus parent company EADS NV says its net profit declined by nearly half in the fourth quarter as the company took charges at its helicopter and defense electronics divisions.
Full-year earnings, however, were up 19 percent.
EADS said Wednesday that it earned $425 million in the October-December period, down 47 percent from the previous year.
The company said it took charges at its defense electronics contractor Cassidian, in part reflecting restructuring costs.
Renegotiating contracts with government customers resulted in a charge at helicopter maker Eurocopter.
However, fourth-quarter revenues rose 17 percent, with the core Airbus division posting a 36 percent increase.
Tribune hires advisers to field newspaper bids
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tribune Co. says it has hired investment banks JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Evercore Partners to help it sell its newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
The move comes two months after the media conglomerate emerged from bankruptcy.
Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said the company has received "a lot of interest" in its newspapers. Hiring the firms, he said, will help Tribune Co. determine whether a potential buyer's interest is credible and assist the company in considering its options.
The sale of the newspapers has been widely expected, especially after the company appointed a group of TV-focused board members and hired former Discovery Communications chief operating officer Peter Liguori as its CEO last month.
Tesla CEO vows to pay off DOE loan early
WASHINGTON (AP) — The CEO of electric car maker Tesla Motors says his company plans to pay back an Energy Department loan in half the time required by the government.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tesla plans to pay off the $465 million federal loan in five years, rather than 10 years. Musk made the comment Tuesday at a summit on energy innovation, where he appeared on stage with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and defended the Obama administration's clean energy program.
The Palo Alto, Calif., company received the DOE loan in 2010. The first payment was due late last year, with final payment in 2022. A company spokeswoman said Tesla hopes to pay off the loan by 2017.
The company made its first payment of nearly $13 million in December.
Christie signs NJ Internet gambling bill into law
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill legalizing Internet gambling, making his state the third in the nation to offer online betting.
Christie acted Tuesday just hours after the state legislature passed a bill with the changes he wanted when he vetoed a similar bill earlier this month.
It marks the biggest expansion of legalized gambling in New Jersey since the first casino opened here in 1978.
The bill allows the playing online, for money, of any game currently offered by Atlantic City's 12 casinos; online poker is expected to be a particularly popular option.
Bets can't be placed until the state Division of Gaming Enforcement sets a start date; casinos say it could take six to 12 months to get ready.
Momentum grows for alternative phone system Tizen
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The junior league of smartphone operating systems is getting more competitive. Phones from yet another contender — Tizen — will go on sale this year with a view to eventually playing with the industry leaders: Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Tizen will rub shoulders with another newcomer, Firefox OS, as well as Microsoft's Windows Phone and a revamped BlackBerry operating system.
Tizen has a powerful backer in Samsung Electronics, which is ditching its own, homebrew operating system Bada in favor of Tizen. Samsung will also use Android.
Most of the impetus behind Tizen comes from cellphone carriers, which want a successful counterweight to the clout of Google and Android. Tizen phones will look and work much like Android phones. The first ones are expected in France this year.