Stocks slide on Wall Street again, extend sell-off

NEW YORK — Stocks slid on Wall Street Thursday, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average logged its biggest one-day drop of the year, as investors fretted about the potential for gridlock in Washington.

The Dow closed down 121.41 points to 12,811.32, bringing its two-day loss to 434 points. The Standard and Poor’s 500 index fell 17.02 points to 1,377.51 and the Nasdaq composite slipped 41.71 to 2,895.58.

The two-day slump came in the wake of President Barack Obama’s re-election to a second term as investors turned their focus back to Europe’s problems and the so-called fiscal cliff, a package of tax increases and government spending cuts in the U.S. that will occur unless Congress acts by Jan. 1.

Stocks are still up on the year, but well below the peak they reached in September.

Priceline to buy Kayak in deal valued at $1.8B

NORWALK, Conn. — Priceline.com plans to buy online travel-research company Kayak Software for $1.8 billion to expand its travel business.

Priceline will pay about $500 million in cash and $1.3 billion in stock and assumed options. The deal values Kayak at $40 a share, a 29 percent premium over its closing price Thursday.

Wal-Mart raising stakes for holiday sales start

NEW YORK — Attention, Black Friday shoppers who can never grab that hot product — Wal-Mart is hoping to relieve some of your anxiety.

The retailer will kick off its holiday sales at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than a year ago. It also is guaranteeing shoppers that it will have three of the most popular items it sells if they line up inside the store during a one-hour event.

Those who are lined up inside the store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving will be able to buy the following: An Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi for $399 plus a $74 Wal-Mart gift card; an Emerson 32-inch LCD TV for $148; and an LG Blu-ray Disc player for $38.

McDonald’s sales drop for first time since 2003

NEW YORK — McDonald’s is having a tough time stomaching the competition.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain said Thursday that a key sales figure fell for the first time in nearly a decade in October, as it faced the double whammy of a challenging economy abroad and strong competition at home.

The company said global revenue at restaurants open at least 13 months fell 1.8 percent for the month. The last time it dropped was in March 2003.

Trade deficit narrows for U.S. to $41.5 billion

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit in September declined 5.1 percent to $41.5 billion from August to the lowest level in nearly two years as exports rose to a record high. The gain may not last, given the global economic slowdown.

Still, the narrower trade deficit could lead the government to revise its July-September economic growth estimate slightly higher than the 2 percent annual rate reported last month.

That’s because U.S. companies earned more from overseas sales while consumers and businesses spent less on foreign products.

Disney’s quarterly income shows 14 percent increase

LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that its net income in the latest quarter rose 14 percent because of an uptick in revenue driven by higher consumer spending at its theme parks and on its cruise ships.

The results were announced a week after Disney said it would buy Lucasfilm Ltd. and revive the “Star Wars” franchise with a new trilogy starting in 2015.

Net income in the three months to Sept. 29 rose to $1.24 billion, or 68 cents per share, from $1.09 billion, or 58 cents per share, a year ago.

Wire reports