July 31 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street waits for the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting as data point to stale economic growth; Coach disappoints; Facebook hits new low; UBS loses face. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Will Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke ride to the rescue? That's an answer Wall Street is eager to hear, leaving skittish investors not willing to buy stocks. But the major indices all post July gains, even if barely for the Nasdaq. The Fed's two-day meeting ends Wednesday, but economist John Dunham doubts there's much policy makers can do. SOUNDBITE: JOHN DUNHAM, PRESIDENT, JOHN DUNHAM & ASSOCIATES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They've gone out and tried a lot of different things. They've done everything they can to increase the money supply to bring down interest rates, they've done that. But they are not going to make you or I go out and buy a car. They are not going to make a business man buy a new machine and they are not going to make somebody buy a house, just because an interest rate fluctuates a little tiny bit." Despite the Fed's efforts, data released Tuesday show a sluggish economy at best. Consumer confidence surprisingly rose in July, but consumer spending fell for the first time in nearly a year the month before. Business activity in the Midwest expanded in July, but employment slipped to a one-year low. Meanwhile, the S&P Case-Shiller home price index rose for the fourth month in a row - a hopeful sign. But quarterly sales at high-end retailer Coach missed forecasts despite bringing back luxury coupons in North America. That sales miss helped Coach have its worst one-day stock performance in years. Shares of Facebook set a new lifetime low, now down 43 percent from the IPO price. And UBS is still reeling from Facebook's debut. The Swiss bank says it lost $356 million on that disastrous IPO. Weak bank stocks were a major reason beyond a negative close in Europe. Conway Gittens, Reuters