Business briefs for February 14


McDonald’s stock slump hurts market

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow was held back by a slump in McDonald’s stock Wednesday, leaving it short of a record.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 35.79 points to close at 13,982.91. The Dow has gained 6.7 percent this year and is just 182 points below the record close of 14,164 it set in October 2007.

McDonald’s was the biggest decliner in the Dow, losing $1.10 to $94, as investors worried that Americans will spend less on eating out following a rise in Social Security taxes at the beginning of the year. The government reported early Wednesday that spending by Americans barely grew last month.

Other fast-food companies also fell. Buffalo Wild Wings stock plunged $4.52 to $76.55 after its earnings fell short of analysts’ expectations. Burger King and Wendy’s also fell.

“Consumer spending is coming under pressure,” said Bryan Elliott, an analyst at Raymond James. “It’s the easiest way to save money, stay at home and cook.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 0.90 point to 1,520.33. The index climbed as high as 1,524 during the day, the highest since November 2007. It is up 6.6 percent so far this year.

Investors sent General Electric and Comcast higher after GE agreed Tuesday to sell its stake in NBCUniversal to Comcast for $16.7 billion. GE said it would use up to $10 billion of the money to buy back its own stock. GE rose 81 cents to $23.39. Comcast advanced $1.16 to $40.13.

Lexus, Porsche top vehicle dependability

DETROIT (AP) — If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s your car.

Vehicles are more dependable than ever, says J.D. Power and Associates. The consulting company’s latest study, which measures problems experienced in the last year by owners of 3-year-old vehicles, found that reported problems fell 5 percent to the lowest level since J.D. Power began collecting this data in 1989.

Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln and Toyota owners reported the fewest problems, while Jeep, Mitsubishi, Dodge and Land Rover owners had the most. Owners reported an average of 126 problems per 100 vehicles from the 2010 model year, down from 132 in last year’s survey. Problems can be anything from engine failure to dashboard electronic glitches to excessive wind noise.

For the first time, cars and trucks that were new or redesigned for 2010 performed better than those that were unchanged from the 2009 model year.

Owners of new models experienced 116 problems per 100 vehicles compared with 133 for models that weren’t new in 2010. That result challenges the conventional wisdom that it takes carmakers one or two model years to work out all the glitches in new cars.

 

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