July 30 - Summary of business headlines: Stocks close mostly higher ahead of FOMC statement; Pfizer beats forecasts; Major shakeup in Potash business weighs on key players; Home prices up. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Stocks had a rocky session on Tuesday- but the indexes managed to close mostly higher- with the Dow just barely to the downside. Volume was light ahead of the Wednesday statement from the Federal Reserve on monetary policy. In Europe the major country indexes were also higher. Pfizer's second quarter earnings beat forecasts. The top U.S. drug maker is planning a business split that could lead to the spinoff of its generics division. Rival and number two U.S. drug maker Merck's revenue fell short of forecasts- in part because of weak international results tied to the strong dollar. Goodyear Tire shares surged, hitting a 5 year high. The company's quarterly profit more than doubled. Sprint posted a wider quarterly loss- blaming it on the heavy costs of shutting down its older Nextel network. It warned customer defections would continue to hurt it going forward. Coach is still losing customers to Michael Kors. Shares fell sharply after the company reported lower-than-expected revenues- and said it does not to see any improvement in the next fiscal year. It's also making major executive changes to try to reignite sales. Home prices jumped 12.2 percent in May- the most since 2006. That according to the Case Shiller Home price index. UBS economist Sam Coffin: SOUNDBITE: SAM COFFIN, ECONOMIST, UBS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We are seeing continued upward pressure on home prices and that obviously helps household balance sheets as well as general confidence in the housing market. We think those prices will continue to pick up. It looks like housing inventories are pretty constrained. " A major change in the potash business sent shares of Potash Corp., Mosaic, and Agrium sliding. Russia's Uralkali dismantled the world's largest potash cartel- a move expected to lower prices by 25 percent. Potash is a key fertilizer ingredient.