Mar 22 - Summary of business headlines: Factory slowdown in Germany, China weigh on Wall Street, offsetting drop in U.S. jobless claims; Nike beats, FedEx warns, McDonald's head retires; President Obama continues to push energy strategy. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street had its worst day in two weeks as investors grow more concerned with the global economy. Nike did little to soothe those worries. The world's largest athletic footwear company beat earnings forecasts and sales were roughly in line. But higher input costs offset any price increases passed on to consumers. FedEx warned that its fiscal-year results may not be as robust due to Europe's negative impact on the global economy. The world's No. 2 package shipper is also getting squeezed as higher energy costs dent profits and slow revenues. In other corporate news: McDonald's is getting a new chief executive. Current CEO Jim Skinner is retiring, passing the reigns to current chief operating officer, Don Thompson, who is credited with successful U.S. rollouts of lattes, frappes, and other menu items. President Obama continued his energy tour, this time stopping at the oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma. Getting the Keystone pipeline, which stretches from Canada to the Gulf Coast, fully operational is part of his energy policy, with conditions. SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ENGLISH) SAYING: "My administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years including the one from Canada, and as long as I'm president we are going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure and we are going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people. We don't have to choose between the one or the other. We can do both." On the economic front: U.S. jobless claims dropped to fresh-four year lows. But a factory slowdown in China and Germany put investors on edge. That sentiment played-out on Wall Street where the Dow and S&P 500 fell for the third day in a row. European stocks ended lower as well but the losses were even bigger. Conway Gittens, Reuters