April 30 - Summary of business headlines: Stocks down for the day, S&P 500, Nasdaq down for the month; Gas prices falling -AAA; Barnes and Noble to spin off Nook, Microsoft to take stake. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Wall Street struggled for most of the day as the S&P 500 wrapped up its first down month since November. The economy was center stage with the bulk of earnings season behind the market. Growth in business activity in the Midwest slowed sharply in April, and consumer spending was only up a tad in March, suggesting the economic recovery may be shifting to neutral. But gas prices are heading lower and that could boost consumer spending in coming weeks. According to AAA, the national average for regular gasoline is $3.81 a gallon, down from $3.85 a week ago, and down from $3.93 the same time last year. The biggest corporate story of the day had to do with a little device. The Nook digital book reader is being spun off by Barnes and Noble. The spin-off company, which does not yet have a name, will be 17.6 percent owned by Microsoft, which is paying $300 million for the stake. The deal makes sense to Jim Awad of Zephyr Management. SOUNDBITE: JIM AWAD, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ZEPHYR MANAGEMENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You have each company contributing assets in a way that the sum total becomes worth more than parts. Barnes and Noble gets access to Microsoft's technology and money. Microsoft gets access to Barnes and Noble budding technology and database and content." Shares of Barnes and Nobles surged 52 percent on the news. But that gain was lost on the broader market, where stocks snapped a four-day winning streak. As far as the month totals: Blue chips were little changed, but the Nasdaq was down 1-1/2 percent. In Europe: Spain is the latest European economy to fall into recession, leading stocks lower in Germany and the U.K. France was much lower due to political concerns. Conway Gittens, Reuters