Briefcase

iPad Air: availble Friday

The stock market retreated from all-time highs Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy still needed help from its stimulus program.

The nation’s central bank said it will continue buying $85 billion in bonds every month and keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero..

The Fed said it would “await more evidence” the economy was improving before starting to pull back its stimulus. The announcement was mostly expected by investors.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 61.59 to 15,618.76. The S&P 500 fell 8.64 to 1,763.31. The Nasdaq fell 21.72 to 3,930.62.

NEW YORK — Facebook’s stock soared after the company reported a 60 percent revenue increase in the third quarter thanks to mobile advertising growth. The numbers beat Wall Street’s expectations for the second quarter in a row. The world’s largest social network said Wednesday that it earned $425 million.

Apple CEO Tim Cook believes Santa’s sleigh will be loaded with iPads this Christmas, but a variety of competing tablets are sure to be along for the ride, too.

Apple’s iPad Air, a thinner, lighter and faster-running version of its previous tablet, goes on sale Friday with a starting price of $499. The company also unveiled an updated version of its iPad Mini recently. It goes on sale sometime in November.

Apple is expecting strong sales of both models. Cook told analysts during the company’s most recent earnings conference call that “this is going to be an iPad Christmas” as he predicted year-over-year growth.

Starbucks says its profit rose 34 percent to $481.1 million in its fiscal fourth-quarter, as the coffee chain attracted more customers around the world.

Revenue rose to $3.8 billion, but was short of the $3.81 billion analysts expected Global sales rose 7 percent at cafes open at least a year, including an 8 percent rise in both the U.S. and Asia. Starbucks also said Wednesday that it expects revenue growth of “10 percent or greater” for 2014.

Starbucks has about 20,000 locations around the world, with about 12,000 of those in the U.S.

DETROIT — On the heels of a profitable third quarter, Chrysler Group said it will proceed with a public offering of shares before the end of this year.

Italy’s Fiat SpA owns the majority of Chrysler shares. Sergio Marchionne, who runs both companies, wants to combine them by purchasing the 41.5 percent of Chrysler now controlled by a United Auto Workers-run trust.

The two sides disagree on the value of the trust’s shares. The CEO said there’s still no deal.

DETROIT — Another solid quarterly performance at General Motors brought the strongest talk yet of the automaker paying a dividend for the first time in five years, or perhaps buying back stock.

GM on Wednesday reported pretax profit of $2.64 billion for the third quarter, up almost 15 percent over a year ago. Earnings grew in North America, South America and China and losses narrowed in Europe.

CEO Dan Akerson said the board knows shareholders want the best possible return. “We understand what we’re here for, and one of them is to return money to our shareholders,” he said, without giving a specific time frame.

Wire reports