- Ann Coulter takes up ‘Mitt Romney for President’ chant again
- Mount Everest avalanche kills a dozen Sherpa guides
- Vice principal saved from South Korean sinking ferry found hanged
- ‘I Am Alive’ app gains popularity in terror-ravaged Lebanon
- Gun giveaways gain popularity among Republican candidates
- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
Stocks edge lower; McDonald’s slumps
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged lower Wednesday, pulling indexes down from near-record levels.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 was down one point to 1,518 as of 3:31 p.m. EST. The index climbed as high as 1,524 during the day, the highest since November 2007. It is up 6.4 percent so far this year.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped back below 14,000, shedding 55 points to 13,963. The Dow has gained 6.6 percent this year and is trading within 1.5 percent of its record close of 14,164 set in October 2007.
“Sometimes the market needs to take a break and consolidate the gains,” said Quincy Krosby, a markets strategist for Prudential Financial. “There’s a certain respect attributed to crossing certain historical levels.”
McDonald’s was among the biggest decliner on the Dow, logging its biggest drop of the year, on concern that Americans will have less money to spend following a rise in Social Security taxes. The government reported that spending by Americans barely moved up last month.
McDonald’s slipped $1.15, or 1.2 percent, to $93.94. Buffalo Wild Wings stock plunged $4.62 to $76.44 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.”
Investors sent the stocks of 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 96 cents to $39.95.
Trading has been relatively quiet in recent days following a strong opening to the year. The Dow logged its best January in almost two decades after lawmakers reached a last-minute deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of sweeping tax increases and spending cuts. Investors are also becoming more optimistic that the housing market is recovering and that hiring is picking up.
“We’re cautiously optimistic on stocks,” said Colleen Supran, principal at Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough. “There is some indication that we could be continuing on this slow growth trajectory.”
Ms. Supran said investors should still be prepared for volatility in the stock market and not assume that the gains from January and so far in February will set the pattern for the rest of the year.
Strengthening the economy and creating jobs were key topics in President Obama’s State of the Union address late Tuesday, the first since his re-election. Although the economy is healthier than it was four years ago, growth remains slow and unemployment high.
Mr. Obama announced that the U.S. will begin talks with the European Union on a trans-Atlantic trade agreement. He also called for increased spending to fix roads and bridges and the first increase in the minimum wage in six years. The president also challenged deeply divided lawmakers to find compromises to avoid massive, automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to take place March 1.
The government reported that Americans’ spending at retail businesses and restaurants slowed last month after higher taxes cut their paychecks. Retail sales growth slowed to 0.1 percent in January, from a 0.5 percent increase in December.
The Nasdaq composite rose 4 points to 3,190.
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Team Obama's bizarre behavior helps Gitmo terrorists foil justice
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Joe Biden's biggest gaffe: VP blowing his 2016 head start
- With pot and e-cigarettes, Big Tobacco is just waiting to inhale emerging markets
- Obama taunts GOP, takes nationally televised victory lap on Obamacare
- DeLAY: Hearings offer ripe target in Obamacare battle
- Attacks, rapes and forced conversions to Islam spike for Egypt's Christian women: report
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.