Sept. 18 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street searches for direction, FedEx lowers 2013 view in latest clue global economy is sinking, Ford's Alan Mulally sees Europe remaining below par, U.S. homebuilder sentiment hits six-year high; Apple tops $702. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street is searching for a catalyst as the economy fails to gain significant traction and the stock market sits at multi-year highs. The Dow inched higher, while the rest of the market slipped for a second day in a row. The latest sign of economic strain comes by delivery - by way of FedEx. The world's second largest package shipper lowered its full-year forecast. It says customers are switching deliveries from air to sea because it's cheaper, and higher energy costs are hurting the bottom line as well. FedEx's rival UPS cut its forecast back in July. Shares of FedEx were down for the day, but still up year-to-date. Sticking with things that move - Ford is taking the wraps off a redesigned Fusion mid-size sedan - which includes electric and hybrid versions. As one of the most popular U.S. family sedans, Ford is looking to social media and the star power of Ryan Seacrest to keep up the momentum. But it's going to take more than a celebrity to get annualized sales going again in Europe. We caught up with CEO Alan Mulally at a New York dealership. SOUNDBITE: ALAN MULALLY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FORD MOTOR COMPANY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We are not sure it is going to return to that 18 million level. I think the more natural rate is around 16 to 17 maybe at the most; no idea about when because clearly it's going to go with economic activity and that will really be answered by how fast the fiscal and monetary policies are put in place to get the economy turned around and growing again." More on Europe in a few seconds. Homebuilder sentiment in the U.S. jumped to a six-year high in the latest sign the housing market is getting stronger. And speaking of strong - Apple shares topped $702 for the first time before settling at a record close just below that mark. Back to Europe: stocks are down with borrowing costs up as Spain plays hard to get on an official bailout request. Conway Gittens, Reuters