Stocks mixed in thin trading; oil up over $96
NEW YORK — Mixed economic data and light trading kept the stock market hovering near break-even Tuesday.
Housing prices increased in all major U.S. cities in June, according to a closely watched index. Also, crude oil crept above $96 a barrel as Hurricane Isaac picked up speed in the Gulf of Mexico, where roughly one-quarter of the country’s oil is produced. Much of the region’s production and refining activity has shut down.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 21.68 to close at 13,102.99. The S&P 500 index slipped 1.14 to 1,409.30, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 3.95 to 3,077.14.
Americans’ confidence in economy off in Aug.
NEW YORK — Americans are feeling worse about the economy than they have in a while, a fact that could have wide-reaching implications everywhere from Wal-Mart to the White House.
Despite improving U.S. job and housing markets, consumer confidence fell to the lowest level it has been since November 2011, according to the Conference Board, a private research group. The results are the latest swing in the index, which has been on a rollercoaster ride this year.
The index declined in January, rose in February, then posted four months of declines before registering an increase in July. August’s reading indicates that the gains in the job and housing markets aren’t big enough to put to rest fears about the economy.
That not only threatens to put a damper on retail sales for the back-to-school and winter holiday seasons — the two biggest shopping periods of the year — but it also could affect how Americans vote in November’s presidential election.
U.S. bank earnings rose 21% in 2Q; lending up
WASHINGTON — U.S. bank earnings rose 21 percent in the April-June quarter, and lending to consumers increased, adding to evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the financial crisis.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that the banking industry earned $34.5 billion in the second quarter, up from $28.5 billion in the second quarter of 2011.
About 63 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings as they were able to set aside less for losses on loans. The number of troubled banks fell for the fifth straight quarter.
Lexmark will jettison inkjet printers, workers
SAN FRANCISCO — Lexmark is jettisoning its inkjet printers and laying off 1,700 workers as paper becomes increasingly passe in an age of ever-sleeker digital devices and online photo albums on Internet hangouts like Facebook.
The shake-up announced Tuesday is the latest fallout from the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers that make it easier to store and retrieve content from anywhere with an Internet connection. As a result, computer printers are used less frequently, especially at home.
FTC: ‘Your Baby Can Read’ campaign deceptive
WASHINGTON — Many babies at 9 months old are just starting to stand up. Some take their first steps. But reading? At 9 months? The Federal Trade Commission doesn’t think so.
The agency has filed a complaint against the man behind the “Your Baby Can Read” program, Robert Titzer. The FTC accuses him of false and deceptive advertising for promoting his program in ads and product packaging as a tool to teach infants as young as 9 months to read.
The “Your Baby Can Read” program used a combination of videos, flash cards and pop-up books.