- - Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Dow breaks 13,000 but can’t hold gains

NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average crossed 13,000 for the first time since May 2008, before the financial crisis nearly unraveled the U.S. economy. But the marker didn’t last long.

The Dow hit 13,000 just before 11:30 a.m. and stayed there for about 30 seconds, then dropped back. It reclaimed the level again around noon and just after 1:30 p.m. But the Dow gave up most of its gains for the day and finished up 16 points at 12,966.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose a point to 1,362. The Nasdaq composite didn’t fare as well, falling three points to 2,949.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. dragged the market down Tuesday after their quarterly results missed analysts’ expectations.


Holiday spending pushes Macy’s, Saks profits up

NEW YORK — A strong holiday shopping season and hearty online sales pushed Macy’s Inc.’s fourth quarter net income up 12 percent. That topped Wall Street’s expectations, and the department store chain’s stock hit a 52-week high.

Macy’s, which runs upscale Bloomingdale’s as well as Macy’s stores, has been outperforming midprice peers such as Kohl’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co., which will report their quarterly results on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Upscale retailer Saks Inc. also reported a strong fourth quarter, with net income up 48 percent, buoyed by strong sales of handbags, fine jewelry and men’s and women’s clothing.

The New York department store operator, which caters to affluent shoppers, bounced back from the recession much quicker than other retailers because the wealthy returned to spending faster than middle- to low-income shoppers have.


U.K. court OKs legal claim to be served via Facebook

LONDON — Legal authorities said Tuesday that a High Court judge in England has approved the use of Facebook to serve legal claims.

Justice Nigel Teare made the unconventional ruling during a pretrial hearing in a case in which two investment managers are seeking damages from a brokerage firm and from Fabio De Biase, a former investment trader, and Anjam Ahmad, a former broker.

Lawyers had been trying unsuccessfully to track Mr. De Biase, leaving a copy of the lawsuit at his last known address - but they weren’t sure he still lived there.

The lawyers won permission to serve papers via the social media site after they told the judge they were confident Mr. De Biase’s account was still active because “someone from the firm had been monitoring the account and they’d seen that he’s recently added two new friends, which made the judge chuckle.”


Feds investigate problems with defective side air bags

DETROIT — Federal safety regulators are investigating a problem with side air bags that may fail to inflate in a crash.

The problem already has caused recalls of more than 2,700 Toyota, Honda, Subaru and Nissan vehicles, but that number could grow if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determines that more automakers used similar defective parts.

The recalled vehicles could have an ineffective mixture of the gas that inflates the side curtain air bags in a crash. That mix could mean air bags on one or both sides of the cars won’t inflate in a crash, increasing the risk of injury, the agency said in documents posted on its website. So far no one has been hurt.


Home Depot net income up sharply on sales spike

NEW YORK — Home Depot Inc. said Tuesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 32 percent as homeowners spent more on renovation projects in part because of the mild weather in the U.S.

Coping with prolonged weakness in the housing market, home-goods sellers such as Home Depot have adjusted to the fact that fewer consumers are making large-scale home renovations by cutting costs and improving services such as online shopping.

But the sales increase at the largest U.S. home-improvement retailer shows there may be pent-up demand for home improvement, even during the winter, and it offers a glimmer of hope amid the housing slump.

Last week, the Commerce Department said builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000 houses in January, a number that nearly matches November’s three-year high.


Comcast launches new streaming video service

PHILADELPHIA — Cable TV giant Comcast Corp. is launching a new subscription video service that will enable its customers to instantly view movies and TV shows in their home and elsewhere.

The service, called Xfinity Streampix, will be available this week to Xfinity video customers. The company said Tuesday that it will allow customers to access programming on multiple screens and devices including TVs, online platforms and mobile devices.

Philadelphia-based Comcast is the nation’s largest cable TV provider.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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