Jan. 31 - Summary of business headlines: DOJ moves to block Anheuser-Busch InBev total purchase of Modelo; Wall St. closes best January in 16 years on soft footing; TRI Pointe opens the door for homebuilding IPOs; Consumer income takes a December leap. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Stocks post a two-day decline with investors seeing little catalyst to push the market beyond its current five-year high. The slippage was minor for the main market gauges. But if the old adage " As goes January, so goes the year" holds true, then this is going to be one for the bulls. The benchmark S&P 500 rallied 5 percent at the start of the year. The best January since 1997. A $20 billion deal in the beer market is in jeopardy. The Department of Justice wants to block Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent of Budweiser, from buying the half of Modelo it does not already own, citing the conglomerate's near 50 percent dominance of the U.S. market. Modelo is behind the popular Corona brand. Constellation Brands was also in on the deal and would get U.S. distribution rights for Corona, but that wasn't enough for the Justice Department. Shares of Constellation fell hard, losing 17 percent of their value. Anheuser-Busch fell nearly 6 percent and Groupo Modelo lost 6-1/2 percent on the Mexican exchange. TRI Pointe Homes was on hand to ring the opening bell - marking the first homebuilder to go public in almost a decade. Smaller homebuilders are looking for cash to build as the housing market comes back from its worst downturn since the Great Depression. The stock, however, sank in its debut after boosting the IPO size just two days before pricing above the range. Looking at the economy - good news for American wallets. Consumer incomes surged in December in the biggest jump in 8 years. The boom, according to the Commerce Department, all the special dividends doled out to investors at the end of the year. Jobless claims rose last week but not enough to disrupt expectations of a slow-growing labor market. The weekly numbers come a day ahead of the monthly payroll figure - expected to show unemployment steady at 7.8 percent. Meanwhile, European markets were down for a second day running after disappointing results from Royal Dutch Shell.