Jan. 21 - Summary of business headlines: Blue chips sink as Verizon, J&J weigh; IBM revenue disappointment led by weak emerging market sales; Delta profits fly on higher fares; Dow chemical is latest target of activist investor Dan Loeb. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Blue chips sink like a stone as investors fret earnings season may not be strong enough to justify last year's double digit stock gains. Worries, however, were not unanimous with the the S&P 500 snapping a two-session losing streak and the Nasdaq ending higher as well. After the bell: IBM continues to struggle on the revenue front, with sales missing forecasts. Notably, demand was down double digits for the once red-hot group of Brazil, Russia,India and China. Ahead of those results: Verizon beat earnings forecasts as it took on more mobile subscribers than analysts were looking for. But investors fret Verizon Wireless could get caught up in a price war with T-Mobile discounts already prompting a response from Sprint and AT&T. Johnson and Johnson also exceeded expectations but it's 2014 outlook was on the lower end of analysts forecast. Why? JNJ predicts slower prescription drug sales. And Delta rounds out the earnings stories for the day. The No. 3 U.S. carrier was able to make higher fares stick, while at the same time fuel costs were down, leading to results that came in ahead of the consensus. Hot stocks to the upside: Dow Chemical after activist investor Dan Loeb urges the chemical company to ditch a slow-growing unit. And BlackBerry. Last week the Pentagon says it will keep on using BlackBerry devices at the Department of Defense. On the international front: Personal information for more than 100 million South Korean credit card customers were recently stolen. The theft involved three credit card companies, according to authorities. And in Europe - Italy's Fiat completes the purchase of the remaining stake in Chrysler it did not own for a $4.35 billion price tag. As for the markets - small gains in Germany and France compared with a minor pullback in the U.K.