Grim Cat outlook tugs US stocks mostly lower

NEW YORK — A gloomy outlook from Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction equipment company, tugged the stock market lower Wednesday.

Cat’s earnings fell 43 percent in the second quarter as China’s economy slowed and commodity prices sank. The company also warned of slowing revenue and profit.

Although far from a blockbuster season, the larger trend for profits looks good. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25.50 to close at 15,542.24. The S&P 500 index fell 6.45 to 1,685.94. The Nasdaq composite edged up 0.33 to 3,579.60.

Facebook jumps after results beat estimates

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook’s stock is flying high after the biggest social network posted higher revenue from mobile ads and delivered a healthy second-quarter gain that reversed a loss a year earlier.

The results, which come on the heels of weaker-than-expected results from online search leader Google, signal that Facebook’s aggressive push into the mobile advertising market continues to pay off. The company began showing mobile advertisements for the first time last spring. On Wednesday, Facebook said mobile ads accounted for 41 percent of total ad revenue.

The company’s stock jumped $4.93, or 18.6 percent, to $31.44 in extended trading. The stock priced at $38 when Facebook went public in May 2012 and hasn’t hit that since.

Dell’s founder boosts offer to buy PC maker

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Dell’s founder is boosting his offer to buy the struggling PC maker by 10 cents to $13.75 per share in hopes of attracting more shareholder support.

The move came just hours before shareholders of the company were scheduled to vote on the earlier offer from founder Michael Dell and the investment firm Silver Lake Partners.

The company said it was delaying its shareholder meeting for a second time, moving it to Aug. 2. The meeting had been set for Wednesday.

Michael Dell says the new offer increases the total amount paid to shareholders by about $150 million to more than $24 billion. They say it’s their best and final offer. Shareholders Carl Icahn and investment firm Southeastern Asset Management have said the earlier offer undervalued the company.

Perfect fit: Wonderbra firm buys Maidenform

NEW YORK — It’s the perfect fit. Two of the world’s top bra makers are coming together in the biggest development in the $11.5 billion underwear industry in years.

Hanesbrands, which makes the Wonderbra, said Tuesday that it agreed to buy bra and underwear company Maidenform Brands for about $547 million. The deal would add brands like Maidenform, Flexees and Self Expressions to a roster that includes Playtex, Bali, Champion, Wonderbra and Hanes.

The merger comes as traditional bra and underwear makers are facing competition from specialty stores like Victoria’s Secret and newer rivals like Spanx.

New-home sales jump by 8.3 percent for June

WASHINGTON — Americans snapped up new homes in June at the fastest pace in five years, a sign the housing recovery is strengthening.

Sales rose 8.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 497,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That’s the highest since May 2008.

While sales are still below the 700,000 pace consistent with healthy markets, they have risen 38 percent in the past 12 months. That’s the biggest annual gain since January 1992.

Wire reports