April 29 - Summary of business headlines: S&P hits new all-time high; Moody's rallies on lawsuit settlement; Pending home sales rise, as does personal income and spending, Herbalife profits up. Bobbi Rebell reports.
A new record high for the S&P 500- as stocks extended their rally on Monday- All three major indexes posted gains- with the Nasdaq hitting levels not seen in more than a dozen years. In Europe- the indexes rose across the board after Italy finally formed a government after months of uncertainty. Among the biggest gainers here in the U.S. : Moody's. Shares jumped after the company settled a lawsuit accusing the ratings firm of misleading investors. More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings- and 69 percent have been above analysts expectations. UBS Economist Sam Coffin: SOUNDBITE: SAM COFFIN, ECONOMIST, UBS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It looked like revenues were a little bit soft compared to expectations- earnings were a bit better than expectations. I think we are seeing sort of the same thing in the economic data. That productivity growth has been slow but unit labor costs have been very, very restrained and that is boosting companies' bottom lines." After the bell: Herbalife posted higher profits- and raised its 2013 forecast. The nutritional products company, which has been the subject of a battle between hedge fund titans Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman, says demand has been strong around the world. Profits were down at Newmont Mining. The largest U.S. based gold miner said gold and copper sales fell. Revenue slumped at Chrysler. The automaker phased out its Jeep Liberty as it gears up for a new model launch. But parent company Fiat confirmed its 2013 financial forecasts despite that lower revenue and a worsening European car market. Profits fell 34 percent at Loews. The hotel, energy and financial services conglomerate had lower investment income and higher charges related to its natural gas and oil properties. Consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in March- more than expected- but a lot of it was tied to demand for utilities because of the cold weather- so economists say it doesn't mean the economy is improving. The Commerce Department also said incomes rose 2-tenths of a percent- less than forecasts. The price index for consumer spending fell for the first time since November- a sign of cooling inflation. But there is strength in the housing recovery. The National Association of Realtors said contracts to buy previously owned homes rose 1.5 percent- to their highest level since 2010.