Jan 15 - Summary of business headlines: Silver Lake Partners building money chest to take Dell private -sources; Facebook announces search function, but stock flops; CVS looks for Tylenol remedy. Retail sales strong in December, lifts Dow. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Blue chips extend a modest winning streak to five sessions but concerns about the U.S. fight over debt limits kept gains to a minimum. The Dow and S&P 500 saw a pop, but the Nasdaq ceded ground. That due in part to sales concerns pushing Apple to its first close below $500 in nearly a year. Dell could be taken private by Silver Lake Partners, two sources familiar with the matter say, and the buyout firm is in advanced talks to line up financing for the deal. This could be the biggest buyout since the recent recession. Shares of Dell rallying 21 percent since a report of Dell considering to go private was reported by Bloomberg on Monday. The anticipated news from Facebook: a new internal search function. Facebook will allow limited search confined to a users' social network and not the entire billion or so Facebook users. Investors were not so impressed after a build-up last week. Shares fell close to 3 percent by session's end. With little threat to its domain - search giant Google finished higher. But this could be trouble for Yelp, which lost over 6 percent. Tylenol is such a headache for CVS that it will stop putting the pain medicine in some of its stores. A three-year series of manufacturing problems for maker Johnson & Johnson - leading CVS to only stock the drug selectively. J&J did not want to comment for our story. Economic news came through for the bulls. Retail sales jumped a stronger-than-expected half of a percent at the end of last year. That data are another sign all that talk about the fiscal cliff holding back the consumer - was all talk. Meanwhile, wholesale inflation backed off for a third month. Finally, European stocks were mostly lower after weak results from German software giant SAP.