Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jul 27, 2011 5:56 PM
Business Highlights

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Fed survey: Growth slows across much of the US

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The economy worsened in much of the country earlier this summer, hampered by high unemployment, weak home sales and signs of a slowdown in manufacturing.

A survey by the Federal Reserve, released Wednesday, found that weak consumer spending, slow job growth and tight credit are restraining growth into the second half of the year.

Growth slowed in eight of the Fed's 12 bank regions in June and early July, the report found, compared with the spring. That marked the worst showing this year.

The Fed's survey found that factory output weakened in some areas. That's likely to heighten concerns that manufacturing, one of the economy's few bright spots over the past two years, is sputtering.

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Durable goods orders fall 2.1 percent in June

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Businesses cut back on orders for aircraft, autos, heavy machinery and computers in June, sending demand for long-lasting manufactured goods lower for the second month in the past three.

Orders for durable goods fell 2.1 percent last month, with the weakness led by a big drop in orders for commercial aircraft, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. A number of other categories also showed weakness including autos and auto parts. A key category that tracks business investment plans fell 0.4 percent in June.

Manufacturing has been the stellar performer in the two-year-old recovery. But activity slowed in the spring, reflecting in part supply disruptions following the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Manufacturing was also hurt by the hit the overall economy took from higher energy prices which dampened consumer demand.

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GOP retools plan as Congress seeks debt fix

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Six days away from a potentially calamitous government default, House Republicans appeared to be coalescing Wednesday around a work-in-progress plan by House Speaker John Boehner to increase the U.S. borrowing limit and chop $1 trillion in federal spending. But the White House dismissed the proposal as a waste of time, and it got a thumbs-down from Senate Democrats and tea party activists, too.

It was a telling illustration of the difficult politics along the pathway to a deal in a standoff that has put financial markets on edge. Stocks were falling sharply Wednesday.

GOP leaders worked to line up support for Boehner's proposal, which was being retooled after nonpartisan analysts in the Congressional Budget Office said it would cut spending less than he had estimated _ about $850 billion over 10 years rather than $1.2 trillion. The House planned to vote on the reworked plan Thursday, with Boehner calling it "the best opportunity we have to hold the president's feet to the fire."

White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed all the focus on the GOP plan as a distraction.

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Dunkin' gets warm response from new investors

NEW YORK (AP) _ It's time to make the money.

Shares of Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. soared nearly 47 percent on Wednesday, their first day of trading, feeding the demand of investors looking to trade in coffee and doughnuts.

Shares closed at $27.85, up $8.85 from the $19 price that Dunkin' Brands set Tuesday night. Dunkin' sold about $423 million worth of shares at $19 apiece.

Most stocks get a one-time pop on their first trading day. Still, Dunkin' Brand's reception indicates that investors are willing to shell out for initial public offerings _ and not just for the tech companies like LinkedIn and Groupon.

Dunkin' Brands, which owns Dunkin' Donuts and the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain, has said it will use the money from the public offering to pay down debt, in part so that it will be able expand overseas. Dunkin' Brands could raise a bit more if the banks underwriting the IPO decide to buy more shares in the next 30 days.

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Boeing second-quarter profit beats Street; raises guidance

Boeing's profit surged almost 20 percent in the second quarter as it delivered more passenger planes. It raised its guidance for the year.

Boeing Co. also said on Wednesday that it will not deliver as many of its new 787s and 747-8s this year as previously hoped. Investors seemed content to hear that delivery of the first planes remains on schedule _ Boeing shares rose slightly.

Analysts believe Boeing and other plane builders are at the beginning of another boom cycle after enduring a recession. Airlines have been ordering so many Boeing 737s and competing single-aisle planes from Airbus that the companies are raising production rates. Boeing already cranks out one 737 every day. It's aiming for 42 per month in 2014.

Boeing earned $941 million, or $1.25 per share, in the quarter. Revenue rose 6.2 percent to $16.54 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had predicted net income of 98 cents per share on revenue of $16.47 billion.

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Delta second-quarter profit falls 58 pct; 2,000 take buyouts

Delta Air Lines said 2,000 workers took voluntary buyouts and it will scale back flying more than planned later this year as it cuts costs to make up for higher fuel prices.

The high cost of jet fuel was the main reason Delta's second-quarter net income fell by 58 percent compared to a year ago. It earned $198 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with $467 million, or 55 cents a year ago. Fuel costs rose 36 percent to $2.66 billion in the latest quarter.

Revenue rose 12 percent to $9.15 billion as Delta raised fares to try to pay the increased fuel costs.

Delta would have earned 43 cents per share if not for one-time items including severance costs and reducing its facilities. On that basis, profit was less than analysts expected _ 46 cents per share on revenue of $9.16 billion, according to FactSet.

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ConocoPhillips second-quarter profit drops but tops estimates

NEW YORK (AP) _ ConocoPhillips' decision to shrink the company by selling off billions in assets starting two years ago contributed to an 18 percent drop in profits during the second quarter this year, though the results still beat expectations.

The Houston oil and natural gas company on Wednesday reported earnings of $3.4 billion, or $2.41 per share, for the April-June period. That compares with $4.2 billion, or $2.77 per share, for the same part of 2010 when Conoco reported $2.9 billion in asset sales.

Revenue increased 34 percent to $67 billion.

Analysts expected earnings of $2.20 per share on revenue of $57.9 billion, according to FactSet.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 198.75 points, or 1.7 percent, to 12,302.55, its biggest one-day drop since early June. It has fallen for four days straight.

The S&P 500 fell 27.05 points, or 2 percent, to 1,304.89. The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index fell 75.17 points, or 2.7 percent, to 2,764.79, its worst day in five months.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery lost $2.19 to settle at $97.40 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude fell 85 cents to settle at $117.43 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other Nymex contracts for August, heating oil fell 3.07 cents to settle at $3.0944 a gallon, gasoline lost 1.54 cents to settle at $3.0831 a gallon and natural gas lost 1.3 cents to settle at $4.318 per 1,000 cubic feet.