Stocks are mostly lower as earnings disappoint
New York • Stocks were mostly lower on Wall Street Friday as investors assessed several weak earnings reports from U.S. companies. Industrial stocks were among the biggest decliners after General Electric reported earnings that disappointed investors and United Parcel Service said its fourth-quarter income would fall short of its expectations.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,842 in the first hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,431, thanks mainly to a big jump in American Express. The Nasdaq composite fell 11 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,207.
GENERAL ELECTRIC: GE slumped 67 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $26.53 after the company's profit margins in its industrial unit fell short of its own targets. The company posted increased revenue and profit for the fourth quarter on rising sales in emerging markets, higher banking profit and stronger global sales of aircraft engines.
UNEXPECTED DELIVERIES: UPS fell $1.66, or 1.7 percent, to $98.83, after the company said its earnings would be lower than it previously forecast because it misjudged holiday demand. The package delivery service said an "unprecedented" amount of online shopping included a surge of last-minute orders, forcing it to use more temporary employees than it had planned to.
HOLIDAY SPENDING: American Express rose $4.47, or 5.1 percent, to $92.95 after the company said late Thursday that its net income more than doubled in the fourth quarter, as cardholders boosted spending and borrowing during the holiday season.
THE ECONOMY: U.S. home construction slowed in December but ended 2013 with the best showing since the housing bubble burst. Builders broke ground last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. That's 9.8 percent lower than November's pace of 1.12 million, the fastest in five years.
TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.86 percent from 2.84 percent on Thursday. The price of oil rose 30 cents to $94.28 a barrel. Gold climbed $8.70 to $1,248.90 an ounce.