S&P 500 hits new high as other indexes slide

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed at another record high even as other U.S. stock indexes edge lower.

Good news from J.C. Penney helped offset disappointing earnings reports from some U.S. companies.

The S&P 500 rose about 2 to 1,762. It also closed at record highs last Tuesday and Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped a point to 15,568. The Nasdaq composite fell about 3 to 3,940.

Homebuilders fell after the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes fell in September to the lowest in nine months, reflecting higher mortgage rates and prices.

Burger King’s earnings climb as costs decline

Burger King’s third-quarter net income surged to $68.2 million as it sharply reduced its restaurant expenses mostly due to the refranchising of company-owned restaurants and continued to grow overseas.

The company’s performance topped analysts’ estimates. It also raised its quarterly dividend.

Burger King has been revamping its business since it was purchased in 2010 by 3G Capital. The company has been selling more restaurants to franchisees in a bid to reduce overhead costs. Instead of booking sales from those restaurants, Burger King collects franchise fees.

Merck net income falls on charges, lower sales

NEW YORK — Merck & Co. said Monday that its third-quarter profit plunged 35 percent to $1.12 billion because of competition from generic drugs, lower sales of its top-selling medicine, and restructuring and acquisition charges.

It still beat Wall Street’s profit expectations, but sharply lowered its own forecast for the full year. Revenue totaled $11.03 billion, down 4 percent. missing expectations for $11.13 billion.

Generic competition continued to hammer asthma and allergy drug Singulair, cutting sales 53 percent in the quarter to $280 million. The drug had been bringing in $5.5 billion a year until its patent expired in August 2012 and cheap copycat versions flooded the market.

Hub airports say they support airline merger

DALLAS — The airports dominated by American Airlines and US Airways say they’ll be hurt if the carriers can’t merge.

The airports want to file a friend-of-the-court statement supporting the merger, which is the subject of a trial scheduled to start Nov. 25 in U.S. district court in Washington.

The request was filed Monday by Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Philadelphia International Airport.

The Justice Department sued in August to block the merger, saying that the deal would limit competition and drive up consumer prices.

The airports said if they’re allowed to file a brief, they’ll show that blocking the merger would hurt competition “to the detriment of the traveling public and labor, as well as to airports and their local communities.”

Michelin says its sales slumped in 3rd quarter

PARIS — Tire maker Michelin says its revenue slumped 5.8 percent in the third quarter and warned that the weakening U.S. and Canadian dollars would hurt full-year profits.

Michelin said in a statement Monday that its revenue for the July-September period fell to the equivalent of $7.06 billion.

Michelin said profits were being squeezed by the worsening exchange rate, which hurts it because its costs are largely in euros and much of its sales are made in dollars.

Michelin has major operations in the South Carolina Upstate.

Staff and wire reports