Housing, tech data drag stocks lower
NEW YORK -- Stocks drifted lower Wednesday after an unexpected drop in home construction and disappointing forecasts from technology companies added to worries about the economic recovery.
The modest drop came a day after major stock indicators closed at 13-month highs. John Brady of MF Global said that as the end of the year approaches, traders are looking foremost at preserving gains amassed in an eight-month rally.
Economic news gave investors more reason for caution. The Commerce Department said construction of homes and apartments fell 10.6 percent in October to an annual rate of 529,000, below the pace of 600,000 that economists expected. Building permits, a key indication for future activity, slid 4 percent.
Tech shares fell after BMO Capital Markets said Blackberry maker Research in Motion faces increased competition.
Monster unveils Pee Dee call center
FLORENCE -- Employment services company Monster marked the opening of its customer call center in the Pee Dee on Wednesday.
The company said about 150 full-time employees work at the 75,000-square-foot building, which opened a month ago. More than 90 percent of them were hired locally.
The center is part of the company's effort to centralize North American customer support.
Company officials have said the center could eventually employ 350 people. Florence County posted 11.7 percent unemployment in September.
Hershey looks to enter Cadbury fray
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Hershey, hoping to expand its overseas presence, has lined up a potential partner as the most recognizable name in American chocolate considers starting a bidding war for British candy maker Cadbury PLC.
Italian candymaker Ferrero International could give The Hershey Co. the financial firepower to top a $16.4 billion hostile bid by Kraft Foods Inc.
Hershey and Ferrero said Wednesday they are considering a possible offer for Cadbury. Some analysts consider the pair a dark horse.
J.C. Penney plans to ax some catalogs
PLANO, Texas -- J.C. Penney will stop publishing its twice-yearly "big book" catalogs, now that customers increasingly shop online.
Instead, J.C. Penney Co. says it will publish specialty catalogs and focus its efforts online, on the Web site jcp.com and on social networks. The company will continue to publish its Christmas catalog and others.
Eliminating the hefty twice-a-year catalogs will cut the company's paper use by 25 percent to 30 percent in 2010.
Casinos slower to order new slots
LAS VEGAS -- A slot machine maker says casinos are buying fewer machines than they have in a decade as they stretch their spending. Nick Khin of Aristocrat Technologies, said Wednesday that the four major slot makers combined sold fewer machines in the third quarter than during any period the last decade.
Keith Smith, chief executive officer of casino operator Boyd Gaming, says replacing slots, which cost more than $10,000, each is more expensive than ever, and casinos must consider other elements to keep customers happy.