Investors wade back into stocks; indexes rise
Wall Street finished moderately higher in fitful trading Thursday as investors, still nervous about the economy, decided to buy back into a stock market pummeled by three straight days of losses.
With the market having largely priced in the possibility of a recession, many believe there are plenty of valuable stocks at cheap prices.
The Dow rose 46.90, or 0.38 percent, to 12,247.00 after trading down about 80 points and up about 130. The index remains more than 13 percent below its record close on Oct. 9, 2007, of 14,164.53.
Broader stock indicators also recovered some ground. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.46, or 0.79 percent, to 1,336.91. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 14.28, or 0.63 percent, to 2,293.03.
FORT WORTH, Texas
Writedowns lead to loss for D.R. Horton
D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilder, said Thursday it swung to a loss in the last three months of 2007, hurt by hefty charges to write down inventory and declining land values.
Amid a housing slump, cancellation rates remained high and pushed down sales orders 52 percent from a year ago. In the nation’s biggest market, California, Horton’s sales orders fell 72 percent.
Horton’s losses in the quarter that ended Dec. 31 totaled $128.8 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with profit of $109.7 million, or 35 cents, a year earlier. The most recent quarter, the first in Horton’s new fiscal year, included $245.5 million in pretax charges to write down inventory and the value of land deposits.
Revenue fell 3.9 percent to $1.71 billion from $2.8 billion. The builder closed on 6,549 homes, down 35.9 percent from 10,202 a year earlier.
PepsiCo earnings slide 31 percent in quarter
PepsiCo, the world’s second-largest soft-drink maker, said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit fell 31 percent from a year earlier, when results were boosted by a tax benefit. Without the benefit, earnings rose 8 percent.
The $602 million tax benefit, which added $128 million, or 36 cents per share, to the 2006 bottom line, was the result of a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service over a review of 1998-2002 returns.
Net income fell to $1.26 billion, or 77 cents per share, in the last three months of 2007 from $1.83 billion, or $1.09 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 17 percent to $12.35 billion.
Consumer borrowing slows in December
Consumers increased their borrowing in December at the slowest pace in eight months, additional evidence that economic activity was slowing significantly at the end of last year. For all of 2007, consumer credit rose at the fastest clip in three years.
The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in December, down from an 8.2 percent jump in November.
Economists had forecast that total credit would rise by $8 billion; instead it increased by $4.5 billion to $2.52 trillion.
Plan to cut airport congestion postponed
The government has delayed by at least a month a plan to reduce congestion at the nation’s airports following stiff resistance from airlines.
A new federal policy allowing airports to charge higher landing fees during peak periods, and for other reasons, aims to reduce delays by encouraging airlines to spread their flights more evenly throughout the day. The policy, which also encourages congested airports to include in landing fees the cost of expansion projects, had been scheduled to take effect in March, following a 45-day comment period.
But airline trade groups, which oppose the plan, requested a 30-day extension of the comment period. Their request has been granted, a Transportation Department spokesman said Thursday.
If you’re sad and you know it, hide your cash
If you’re sad and shopping, watch your wallet: A new study shows people’s spending judgment goes out the window when they’re down, especially if they’re a bit self-absorbed.
Study participants who watched a sadness-inducing video clip offered to pay nearly four times as much money to buy a water bottle than a group that watched an emotionally neutral clip.
The study found a willingness to spend freely by sad people occurs mainly when their sadness triggers greater “self-focus.” That response was measured by counting how frequently study participants used references to “I,” “me,” “my” and “myself” in writing an essay about how a sad situation such as the one portrayed in the video would affect them.
Solicitations go out for Tropicana suitors
Single, rich casino seeks compassionate billionaire for fun, games, long-term commitment.
The language will be somewhat more formal, but that’s the bottom line of solicitations about to go out to more than two dozen suitors for the Tropicana.
The gambling hall is under the supervision of a state-appointed trustee and must be sold because the state Casino Control Commission stripped its former owners of their casino license.
Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp. cut more than 900 jobs, leading to problems with cleanliness and service, and was run out of town after less than a year of ownership.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein, who is managing the search for a new owner, said offering packets will be mailed Feb. 18 to more than two dozen parties who have expressed interest in the Tropicana.
PALO ALTO, Calif.
Facebook unveils version in Spanish
Facebook unveiled a Spanish-language version of its popular online social network Thursday, hoping to expand its audience and catch up to rival MySpace.com.
It marks the first time Facebook has been available in a language besides English since founder Mark Zuckerberg started the Web site at Harvard University four years ago.
Facebook plans to add French and German versions before April, said Matt Cohler, the company’s vice president of strategy and operations.
Redbox to put kiosks in Wal-Mart stores
Redbox Automated Retail, the DVD kiosk company co-owned by McDonald’s Corp., signed an agreement with Wal-Mart Stores to install kiosks at most of the retailer’s U.S. sites.
Wal-Mart will expand the number of automated DVD rental kiosks to most of its more than 3,500 locations, Redbox said in a statement today. Almost 800 Wal-Mart stores offer the service now, the DVD company said.
After bond auction, Treasurys sold off
Treasurys sold off sharply on Thursday after an afternoon auction of $9 billion in 30-year bonds attracted disappointing demand.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 1.09 to 98.13 with a yield of 3.73 percent, up from 3.60 percent late Wednesday, according to BGCantor Market Data.
The 30-year bond closed down 2.56 to 107.22 with a yield of 4.49 percent, up from 4.36 percent late Wednesday.