Weak earnings from US companies stall stocks

NEW YORK — Weak earnings reports from a handful of U.S. companies tugged stock indexes slightly lower Tuesday.

East Cooper Medical Center owner Tenet Healthcare plunged after it said its profit fell as its absorbed costs associated with its acquisition of Vanguard Health Systems. Delphi Automotive dropped after it cut its earnings forecast.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20.90 to close at 15,618.22. The S&P 500 dropped 4.96 to 1,762.97. The Nasdaq rose 3.27 to 3,939.86.

BMW says 3rd quarter earnings climb by 3.2%

BERLIN — Luxury car maker BMW AG saw its third-quarter net profit increase 3.2 percent as tax expenses declined, but the company said its performance was affected by high spending on new technology and growing competition.

The company reported Tuesday net profit of $1.8 billion in the July-September period. Revenue slid 0.4 percent to $25.3 billion, though car sales rose 11 percent to 481,657 units.

CEO Norbert Reithofer pointed to the “challenging market environment in Europe,” but reaffirmed the company’s full-year outlook, saying BMW expects sales volume to grow by a single-digit percentage point and pretax profit to be similar to last year’s.

The carmaker’s only U.S. assembly plant is in South Carolina. It’s a major customer of the Port of Charleston.

U.S. home prices rise at a slower pace in Sept.

WASHINGTON — A measure of U.S. home prices rose only slightly in September from August, a sign that prices are leveling off after big gains earlier this year.

Real estate provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that home prices increased 0.2 percent in September from the previous month. That’s sharply lower than the 0.9 percent month-over-month gain in August and well below the 1.8 percent increase in July. Prices still rose 12 percent in September compared with a year ago.

Higher mortgage rates and steady price increases began to slow home sales in September. As a result, price gains have cooled off.

What’s Google building off San Francisco coast?

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s mayor says he doesn’t know what it is. Police say it’s not their jurisdiction. And government inspectors are sworn to secrecy.

Google is erecting a four-story structure in the heart of the San Francisco Bay but is managing to conceal its purpose by constructing it on barges. The actions appear legal. But the mystery surrounding the floating building — and a similar one off Maine — is generating rumors and worries.

Privacy experts, environmentalists and legal authorities say the secrecy may backfire because residents are highly protective of one of the most scenic and environmentally sensitive bays in the U.S.

Report: Apple cuts cost of making iPad Air 13%

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple trimmed the cost of making its latest iPad along with the tablet computer’s width and weight.

The research firm IHS Inc. estimates the iPad Air that sells for $499 costs Apple Inc. $274 to make. That’s a 13 percent decrease from Apple’s cost of $316 to make a comparable iPad from the third-generation model introduced last year.

The estimate released Tuesday was drawn from an analysis of the parts in the iPad Air, which went on sale last week.

Burger King to bring back Big Mac copycat

NEW YORK — Burger King says it’s bringing back its “Big King” sandwich, which looks a lot like the popular Big Mac made by its bigger rival McDonald’s. The company says it’s an addition to the permanent menu rolling out this week.

Burger King says it previously offered the Big King as a limited-time offer. But back then, it didn’t have a middle bun, a Big Mac signature, like it does now.

Staff and wire reports