Stocks dipped for the second day in a row today following last week's incredible bull run. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day down 55 points, or 0.4%, as earnings season kicked off after hours.
Shares of Alcoa , often seen as an economic bellwether, were up about 1% in after-hours trading after its earnings report came out, as earnings per share of $0.06 matched the Wall Street consensus. Revenues, however, beat expectations of $5.6 billion, coming in at $5.89 billion. That was a 1.5% drop, but the aluminum maker managed to swing to a profit from a $0.03 EPS loss a year ago, thanks to cost-cutting initiatives. Alcoa sees 7% growth in the aluminum market this year, up from 6% in 2012.
Consumer debt levels in November reached a new record high again, as borrowing for cars and education expanded by $15.2 billion total. Credit card debt grew more slowly, however, and has actually dropped 16.5% since the height of the recession four years ago. American Express and Visa both posted modest gains on the news.
Boeing continued to feel the heat from yesterday's battery fire in one of its new 787 Dreamliner jets, as shares fell 2.7%.The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the situation, which is not the first time a problem has been reported with the new model. To make matters worse, United Airlines, the only domestic airline to take possession of a 787 so far, said today that it found improperly installed wiring in the same area that caught fire on the Japan Airlines jet yesterday. This issue definitely looks like a growing headache for Boeing, as only 30 of the 800 Dreamliners ordered have been delivered to date.
Telecoms also dragged down the Dow, as AT&T reported selling more than 10 million smartphones in Q4 2012, a new record, b0ut only a 6% improvement from a year ago. Ma Bell also said the growth was driven by Apple and Android devices, and analysts fear AT&T could be taking a hit on margins as the service providers shell out big bucks to subsidize the high-end phones. Shares fell 1.7%, and rival Verizon took the news even worse, tumbling 2.4%. Big Red also said yesterday that it would take $9 bilion to $10 billion in charges for Q4, mostly related to pension liabilities, and that it expected 2013 growth to be flat.
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