Oct. 29 - Summary: A jump in IBM shares helps push blue chips to a lifetime high; JPMorgan's record $13 billion settlement may be at risk; LinkedIn hooks in more subscribers; Retail sales, consumer confidence fall. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The Dow closes at a lifetime high with the Federal Reserve expected to keep cheap money flowing when a two-day meeting concludes on Wednesday. The S&P 500 also settled at another record. The Nasdaq was up as well despite a brief glitch in the software that tabulates the numbers. JPMorgan Chase's $13 billion settlement is facing a hard time becoming reality. A person familiar with talks says the bank wants to push some mortgage-related liabilities acquired during the financial crisis, when it purchased Washington Mutual, on to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The Department of Justice is opposed to that. Shares of JPM turned higher in the very last minutes of the day. IBM was a major boost to the Dow. The technology giant has given the green light for another $15 billion in share buybacks, bringing its stock repurchase program to more than $20 billion. Shares of IBM climbed roughly 2.7 percent on the day. After-the-bell earnings season continues with LinkedIn. The professional social network - growing its monthly user base to 259 million. Sales were better than expected, but that may not be enough to justify a 115 percent share price gain so far this year. Take-Two Interactive is riding high on Grand Theft Auto V. The blockbuster title lead to a 341 percent revenue surge, which topped forecasts. Profits were also ahead of analysts targets. There was a heavy flow of economic news to digest: Retail sales dipped last month along with demand for autos, but there was optimism in one measure of the government report, which showed a rise in consumer spending. That was last month. This month could be problematic with consumer confidence tumbling to a six month low, according to a survey by the Conference Board. One thing that could support the consumer going forward- higher home prices. According to The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, price gains compared to the same time the year before, were the strongest in more than seven years. Meanwhile, producer prices remained tame in September. In European action, stocks finished higher with earnings giving investors a reason to buy.