S&P 500 falls after four days of record closes

NEW YORK — A four-day streak of record closes ended for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index Wednesday after Caterpillar reported weak earnings and falling oil prices hurt energy stocks.

Caterpillar, which makes mining and construction equipment, is considered an important barometer of the global economy. The plunge in Caterpillar’s third-quarter profit discouraged investors and stalled a two-week surge in the stock market. Energy stocks dropped as the price of oil fell to its lowest in almost four months.

The S&P 500 had surged 6 percent over the previous two weeks, capped by a record close of 1,754.67 on Tuesday. It fell 8.29 Wednesday to 1,746.38.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 54.33 to 15,413.33. The Nasdaq composite fell 22.49 to close at 3,907.07.

FedEx expects increase in its holiday deliveries

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FedEx expects that holiday shoppers will be more nice than naughty this year, with shipments rising from 2012.

The company said Wednesday that it expects to carry more than 22 million shipments on the busiest day of the season, which it believes will be Monday, Dec. 2.

FedEx predicts that shipments in the first week of December will rise 13 percent over last year’s peak week, to more than 85 million shipments, driven by online shopping and retailers stocking up on electronics, apparel and other goods.

Airlines had improved on-time records in Aug.

WASHINGTON — Just one in every five flights was late in August the government says, an improvement from earlier in the summer.

The Department of Transportation reported Wednesday that 78.8 percent of flights arrived on time in August. That was significantly better than the on-time arrival rates of 73.1 percent in July and 71.9 percent in June.

Among the biggest U.S. airlines, Delta’s on-time performance improved to 85 percent from 74.6 percent in July. That was good enough for third overall behind Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Ford, Toyota fight over who has top-selling car

DETROIT — Ford says the Focus compact car is the best-selling auto in the world this year. The company says it sold almost 590,000 Focuses during the first half of the year based on registration data. That beat the No. 2 finisher, the Toyota Corolla.

Toyota disputes the claim. The Japanese automaker says Ford didn’t count identical Toyota cars sold under different names in other countries.

Ford says Focus sales are up 20 percent through the first half of the year. That’s mainly because of big sales in China, now the car’s largest market.

This would be the third year in a row that Ford lays claim to the top-seller honors.

Starbucks to open `tea bar’ in the Big Apple

NEW YORK — Starbucks is trying to make tea trendy, with plans to open its first “tea bar” in New York City.

The Seattle-based company says Teavana Fine Teas + Teavana Tea Bar will serve sweets and other food including flatbreads, salads and small plates ranging from about $3 to $15. Drink prices will range from $3 to $6, and include novelties such as a Spiced Mandarin Oolong tea and carbonated teas.

The menu of food and freshly made drinks is a switch for Teavana, a chain of about 300 stores that sell boxed and loose tea and accessories. Teavana stores are mainly in shopping malls, but Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he plans to expand the footprint to include more locations in urban areas. The company plans to add brewed tea and food to more Teavana stores.

Starbucks bought Teavana last year. It hopes to make tea a bigger part of American culture.

Wire reports