April 17 - Summary of business headlines: American Express revenues disappoint on slower cardmember spending; Wall Street takes big swing downward on Apple speculation, Bank of America sales target miss; European index loses all of 2013 gain. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The latest round of earnings reports were less than stellar and that made for a less than stellar day on Wall Street. Blue chips tumbled triple digits; The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq - down hard three of the last four sessions. Apple led the slide. The gadget maker reports next week, but there's renewed speculation demand for iPhones and iPads is weakening. The hint: a somber outlook from a key Apple supplier. At one point, shares broke below $400 for the first time since December 2011. After the close, Profits at American Express - up more than expected, but revenues missed forecasts as cardmembers continue to spend, but cautiously. Here's some insight from AmEx CEO Ken Chenault at an event earlier this week. SOUNDBITE: KEN CHENAULT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AMERICAN EXPRESS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the consumer has really demonstrated incredible resilience in a very challenging economic environment the question for all of us is: how long will that last? But the consumer has held up relatively well. I think you also see that in spending, you see that in the credit performance which the write off rates have substantially come down and for the industry overall they are at close to historical lows." On the other hand, profits at Bank of America were weaker than expected and revenues were down. Lower sales from trading in fixed income securities and mortgages were partly to blame. The No. 2 U.S. bank, still facing fallout from the mortgage mess, paying half-a-billion dollars to settle a class action lawsuit. Bank of America tanked 4.7 percent and took major banks like JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo along for the ride. The Federal Reserve's latest summary of economic conditions did little to sway sentiment. The so-called Beige Book, describing economic growth as moderate from late February to early April. In Europe, a four-day slump wipes away all of this year's stock market gains in Germany and France.