April 24 - Summary of business headlines: Apple defies worriers with solid iPhone and iPad sales; 3M, United Tech surprise to the upside; Mad cow case shows up in U.S.; Dow, S&P 500 jump but Nasdaq dips. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Apple does it again. The tech giant easily beat Wall Street profit targets for the quarter, thanks to solid sales of iPads and iPhones. More than 35 million iPhones and nearly 12 million iPads were sold in the three-month period. Revenues came in $39.2 billion - far ahead of forecasts - with about two-thirds of that coming from international sales. Nervous investors sold the stock ahead of the results, which came after the market close. Continuing with earnings: 3M, the company behind Post-It notes, as well as many other consumer and industrial products, lifted the low end of its forecast for the year, following a better-than-expected first quarter. And fellow blue chip manufacturer United Technologies also topped expectations. Its results were boosted by demand for air conditioners due to an unusually warm March in the United States. The Federal Reserve began two-days of meetings with fresh signs of slow progress in the housing market. New home sales hit a four-month low in March. Home prices inched higher in February on a seasonal basis, according to a private survey. Meanwhile, consumer confidence slipped this month. Mad cow disease has shown up in a cow in central California, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. The USDA says no parts of the animal entered the food supply and major U.S. trading partners are being notified. This is the fourth case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since an outbreak late 2003. Rumors earlier in the day rocked livestock trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The stock market showed little impact as beef producers held gains, but the Nasdaq was weak along with Apple and Netflix. It was a better day in Europe as corporate profits trumped political concerns. Conway Gittens, Reuters