Feb. 11 - Summary of business headlines: Apple explores watch technology –reports; Home Depot ditches BlackBerry; Google Chairman to cut stake, pocket billions; Fed's Janet Yellen says policy is all about jobs. Wall Street nudges lower. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street deflates at the beginning of the week after being pumped up for six weeks in a row. The air is only leaking out with stocks ending marginally lower across the board. Apple limited the downside on reports the company is working on a watch-like device. The New York Times added a little detail, saying the wristwatch would operate on the same platform as the iPhone and would be made of curved glass. Is this the innovation Wall Street has been clamoring for? Investors seemed to like the idea - giving the stock a bounce of more than a full percent. Meanwhile, Home Depot is picking up the iPhone and dropping BlackBerry for it executives and managers. This is a setback for BlackBerry, which is trying to reset its fortunes with new devices and a name change, while trying to hold on to lucrative business clients. U.S. listed shares of BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, down 4.6 percent after the announcement. Sticking with technology, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is unloading some of his shares in the tech giant. According to a filing he is selling 42 percent of his stake, which could put about $2-1/2 billion in his pocket. The planned sale - pulling shares of Google off a lifetime high. The Federal Reserve's extraordinary, near-zero interest rate policy, is focused on one thing - JOBS, says Vice Chairman Janet Yellen. SOUNDBITE: JANET YELLEN, VICE CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The job market is improving. The process has been too slow, but there is progress. My colleagues and I at the Federal Reserve are well aware of the difficulties faced by workers in this slow recovery and we are actively engaged in continuing efforts to promote a stronger economy, more jobs, and better conditions for all workers." But she also has this warning - don't expect the Fed to immediately start unwinding asset purchases or historically low interest rates when unemployment falls to the Fed's target of 6-1/2 percent. On to Europe now, stocks were little changed with weakness in energy, mining and banks.