Apple’s slowdown tugs Nasdaq slightly lower

NEW YORK — A sharp drop in Apple’s stock pulled the Nasdaq down with it Thursday after the tech giant warned of weaker sales. Other stock market indexes eked out slight gains.

Apple sank $63.50 to $430.50. With iPhone sales hitting a plateau and no new products to introduce, Apple said sales would likely increase just 7 percent in the current quarter.

The S&P 500 index edged up 0.01 to 1,494.82. Earlier in the day it crossed above 1,500 for the first time since December 2007. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 46 to close at 13,825.33. The Nasdaq fell 23.29 to 3,130.38.

Michelin is adding 100 jobs with S.C. expansion

COLUMBIA — Michelin is expanding its presence in South Carolina with a project officials said will create 100 new jobs.

Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that the tire maker is spending $200 million to expand its rubber production plant in Anderson County.

Officials said the expansion is needed to keep up with increasing demand.

The news is Michelin’s second announced expansion in less than a year. In April the company said it plans to invest $750 million in facilities in Anderson and Lexington counties, creating about 500 jobs.

More than a third of Michelin’s 22,000 North American employees work in South Carolina. The tire maker built its first American plant in the state in 1973.

Layoffs keep dropping; hopes rise for job gains

WASHINGTON — Employers are laying off fewer workers, a trend that normally suggests hiring is picking up. The January jobs report next week will show whether employers have begun to hire more freely or are still waiting for the economy to strengthen.

The number of people seeking unemployment aid has reached a five-year low, yet overall job growth remains modest. And the unemployment rate is the same 7.8 percent it was four years ago. The economy isn’t growing fast enough to accelerate hiring.

Southwest Air’s profit slips on increased costs

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines said Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings fell by nearly half as costs rose for fuel, labor and maintenance. Revenue climbed slightly as the average fare increased by almost $8 from a year ago. Southwest, which serves Charleston, said that bookings for the first three months of 2013 look strong.

Microsoft earnings dip despite Windows 8 lift

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft’s latest quarterly earnings slipped, even as the world’s largest software maker showed modest progress adjusting to a shift away from the personal computers that have been its financial foundation for decades.

The results announced Thursday are the first to include Windows 8. The program is a dramatic overhaul of the Microsoft operating system that powers most PCs. Windows 8 came out Oct. 26. Although the Windows 8 sales haven’t been as impressive as investors hoped, revenue in Microsoft’s Windows division climbed 24 percent from the previous year.

Microsoft earned $6.4 billion during the final three months of the year, down 4 percent from a year earlier. Total revenue rose 3 percent to $21.5 billion.

Starbucks profit climbs as U.S. cafes prosper

NEW YORK — Americans still need their Starbucks fix even in the weak economy.

The Seattle-based coffee chain said its profit rose 13 percent to $382.1 million in its fiscal first quarter, which was in line with Wall Street expectations. Results were boosted by a 6 percent increase in global sales at cafes open at least a year, a key metric of health. Revenue rose 11 percent to $3.8 billion.

Wire reports