Europe weighs heavily on stock market in U.S.
NEW YORK — It hardly needed it, but the U.S. stock market on Wednesday got another reminder of how its fortunes are inexorably tied to the European economy.
All three major U.S. stock indexes sank after a dismal report about bad loans on the books of Spanish banks. The day before, U.S. stocks had soared after Spain held a successful auction of 2-year bonds. The results underscored how the stock market can whipsaw on even incremental news out of Europe.
A flood of first-quarter earnings also influenced the market in temperamental ways. Of the S&P 500 companies to report earnings so far, 78 percent have recorded per-share earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, according to FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters. But that hasn’t always been enough to lift their share prices.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 82.79 to 13,032.75.
The S&P 500 fell 5.64 to 1,385.14.
The Nasdaq composite index fell 11.37 to 3,031.45.
Commerce taps leader for aerospace task force
A former fighter pilot-turned-leadership trainer will direct the new S.C. Aerospace Task Force, the state Department of Commerce said Wednesday. Charlie Farrell will lead the committee that will advise Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt on how to leverage the Boeing plant in North Charleston to grow the state’s aerospace industry. Farrell flew for the U.S. Marine Corps and Air National Guard before owning a pair of printing companies and getting into teaching.
Boeing supplier Spirit temporarily halts work
NEW YORK — Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, a fuselage supplier to Boeing Co., asked workers to stay home for the rest of the week as the company assesses damage from Saturday’s tornado.
No date is being set for production to resume, and Kansas-based Spirit will make some product deliveries from inventory, spokesman Ken Evans said Wednesday. Four of 45 major buildings at the complex sustained “significant” damage, he said. Spirit gets about half of its revenue from making hulls for Boeing’s 737.
Marriott’s 1Q earnings rise, offset revenue dip
NEW YORK — Marriott International Inc. said its first-quarter earnings edged up 3 percent to $104 million, as higher room prices countered the loss in revenue from the spin-off of its timeshare business. Revenue fell 8 percent to $2.55 billion from $2.79 billion a year earlier.
The lodging company predicted it will fetch higher room prices this year than it expected just three months ago.
Domestic Web ad sales hit record $31B in 2011
NEW YORK — Revenue from Internet advertising in the U.S. hit a record $31 billion last year, according to a study released Wednesday. That’s up 22 percent from $26 billion in 2010, the previous record.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry group, conducted the quarterly study with PricewaterhouseCoopers. About half of the ad revenue, $14.8 billion, came from the search category. The fastest-growing category was mobile, with revenue of $1.6 billion in 2011, more than double the $600 million a year earlier.
Spending by affluent helps AmEx’s earnings
NEW YORK — American Express said Wednesday that its cardholders charged 12 percent more in the first three months of this year than a year earlier, and past-due accounts stayed at historic lows.
The figures added to evidence that the well-off are feeling more comfortable about spending than everyone else. The company said it earned $1.25 billion, 7 percent higher than the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue rose 8 percent to $7.6 billion and also beat estimates.
Staff and wire reports