Dec. 11 - Stocks crumble as budget progress puts renewed focus on Federal Reserve's exit strategy; Hilton IPO prices at $20; Costco results miss analysts' forecasts; MasterCard bucks market fall with stock split, buyback. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Sometimes, when Wall Street stops worrying about one thing - it starts worrying about something else. The result was the worst day for stocks in just over a month, with the Dow suffering a triple-digit loss. Lawmakers have cobbled together a bi-partisan agreement to avoid another budget showdown and even more another government shutdown. So why the worry? Investors think DC getting its act together adds one more reason for the Federal Reserve to start a disappearing act when it comes to extra stimulus. The Fed's $85 billion-a-month bond buying program helped support the stock market's 25 percent surge this year. The Hilton initial public offering is coming to market at $20 a share, which is towards the high-end of the expected range. When the stock begins trading on Thursday, it will mark the biggest hotel IPO in history and the second largest debut this year. Costco missed profit forecasts as members paid less for gasoline at warehouse locations. The retailer also took a hit from currency fluctuations. But in a bright spot, sales at stores opened more than a year were up and excluding lower gasoline prices and foreign exchange sales were even stronger. MasterCard rallied in the face of market doldrums after the electronic payments company announced a 10-for-1 stock split, a hike to its dividend and a $3.5 billion stock buyback. Pope Francis is Time's Person of the Year. The Pope has been quite vociferous in speaking out against the excesses of capitalism at the expense of the world's poor and underserved. In Europe, stocks posted another day of modest declines but aerospace giant EADS limited the downside by standing by its targets.