Business briefs

Published: Friday, January 17, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 10:19 p.m.

Cautious trading sends stock prices down

  • NEW YORK - Investors grew more cautious Thursday, sending stock prices moderately lower despite better-than-expected profits from Sears and United Technologies.
    The declines, which erased an early advance, signaled that investors were pacing themselves and waiting for more earnings results before making any major commitments to stocks. Analysts said investors were also mindful of the possibility of war with Iraq.
    After gaining as much as 82.34 earlier in the session, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 25.31, or 0.3 percent, at 8,697.87. On Wednesday, the Dow dropped 119.44 on a mixed earnings report from Intel and a reduced outlook from DuPont.
    The market's broader gauges also retreated. The Nasdaq composite index fell 15.05, or 1.1 percent, to 1,423.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 3.62, or 0.4 percent, to 914.60.

    GM's earnings surge

  • DETROIT - General Motors Corp.'s earnings surged in the fourth quarter on record revenue as the world's biggest automaker offered hefty incentives to car buyers.
    GM said Thursday it earned $1 billion, or $1.71 a share, for the October-December period compared with $255 million, or 60 cents a share, in the prior-year period.
    Revenue climbed to $48.7 billion, its highest total ever for the period, from $46 billion a year ago.
    Sales at year's end were driven by heavy incentives as GM sought to meet market-share goals. The automaker posted its second straight U.S. market-share gain in 2002 for the first time since 1976.
    Excluding special items at its Hughes Electronics Corp., which owns the DirecTV satellite television service, GM earned $850 million, or $1.62 cents a share, in the fourth quarter.

    Consumer costs steady

  • WASHINGTON - Consumer prices barely budged in December and closed out a year in which costs other than energy rose by the smallest amount since 1964.
    The generally tame inflation climate in 2002 offered some shoppers - especially those buying cars, clothes, computers and airline tickets - some good deals because prices fell for those items.
    But people paying energy, medical and education expenses, including tuition and books, took a hit in the wallet as those prices rose sharply. Energy prices, which can fluctuate wildly from year to year, rose by 10.7 percent in 2002, a turnaround from the 13 percent drop registered in 2001.

    Delta reports losses

  • ATLANTA - Delta Air Lines blamed poor economic conditions and lingering fallout from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as it reported a $363 million loss for the fourth quarter on Thursday and signaled that further cost-cutting was needed in the years ahead.
    The loss was equivalent to $2.98 per share, an improvement from last year's fourth quarter loss of $734 million, or $5.98 per share, and it was better than the expectations of analysts.
    Revenue grew to $3.31 billion, compared with $2.86 billion during the same period a year ago.
    Excluding unusual items, the Atlanta-based carrier said it lost $230 million, or $1.90 a share. On that basis, Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call predicted a loss of $2.27 per share.
    For the year, Delta, the nation's third largest airline, lost nearly $1.3 billion.
    "Over a long period of time, businesses don't exist that lose these kinds of dollars," said Delta's chief financial officer, Michele Burns. But, she added, "I think we have the ability, flexibility and will to survive this crisis."
    - Compiled from The Associated Press
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