Stocks fall, ceding some Monday gains

NEW YORK — A stock drop is never reassuring, except when it could have been worse.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 115 points, or 1.5 percent Tuesday. But it also held on to 382 of the 498 points it racked up a day earlier.

Anyone with a 401(k) would have liked to see the rally continue. Market analysts said that a pullback was expected given the massive gains Wall Street logged the day before, when the government released plans to remove bad loans from banks' books.

The Dow was up more than 1,200 points after hitting nearly 12-year lows on March 9, and there was little in a way of positive economic or corporate data Tuesday to lift stocks further.

Report says airlines to face gloomy year

GENEVA — World airlines will lose $4.7 billion this year because of the economic crisis, while revenues will drop by more than after the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., a major industry association predicted Tuesday.

The revised loss estimate is nearly double the previous forecast issued in December, by the International Air Transport Association. Revenues are expected to fall by $62 billion, or 12 percent, to $467 billion.

Williams-Sonoma's profit slides 90%

SAN FRANCISCO — Williams-Sonoma said its fourth-quarter profit tumbled 90 percent as the home decor chain closed stores and laid off workers, but its adjusted results beat forecasts. The retailer, which owns the Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn chains, earned $12.2 million for the three months ended Feb. 1.

Revenue sank 27 percent to $1.01 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year fell more than 22 percent for the quarter.

Fed's purchases of U.S. debt to begin

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve this week will begin buying up to $300 billion in government debt, an effort aimed at lowering interest rates to spur consumer spending and revive the economy.

The first purchase is set for today, followed by another Friday. Others are slated for March 30, April 1 and April 2, it was announced Tuesday.

The Fed last week said it would buy up to $300 billion in Treasury securities over six months, opening a new front in its battle to end the recession. At the same time, the Fed said it would ramp up its purchases of mortgage securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help lower mortgage rates and aid the housing market.

Cheeses sold in S.C. are being recalled

Torres Hillsdale Country Cheese is recalling Asadero and Oaxaca soft Mexican-style cheeses because of possible listeria contamination. The cheeses were distributed to undisclosed retailers and delis in South Carolina and several other states.

Eating food contaminated with listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a potentially fatal disease. No illnesses have been reported, according to the company.

The recalled cheeses were sold in 10-pound balls and 16- and 12-ounce plastic packages under the name "Aguas Calientes" and in 6-pound blocks shrink-wrapped in clear plastic under the name "El Jaliciense." For more information consumers can call 517-368-5990.