Feb. 15 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street pulls back as Apple ends 8-day winning streak; Oil jumps as Iran's Ahmadinejad visits nuclear facility; No unanimity at Federal Reserve. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Blue chips narrowly avoided their first triple-digit loss of 2012 with investors finding a reason to do some profit taking. Higher energy costs were one of the factors. Fear of a disruption to Iranian oil exports escalated after Iranian state television showed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting a nuclear power plant in Tehran. Crude oil closed near $102 a barrel; its highest close in a month. Investors were also concerned about Apple and its troubles in China. There was a report that Apple had asked Amazon to stop selling the iPad in China. Apple was not immediately available for comment and Amazon would not comment. A Chinese company has asked authorities to block iPad shipments, but China's customs authorities are not likely to step in. The stock fell for only the first time in the last nine sessions. Minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting show policymakers were still divided on whether the economy needed more stimulus at the start of the year, but decided to maintain their forecast to keep rates low until 2014. The Fed, however, now has a series of mostly upbeat economic signals to consider. Manufacturing activity in the New York region hit a 1-1/2 year high in February and a measure of sentiment among homebuilders is near a five-year high. But upbeat data were trumped by market concerns - sending Wall Street down across the board. European shares closed off their highs of the day after several European Union sources said a second bailout for Greece may be delayed. Conway Gittens, Reuters