Feb. 5 - Summary: Blue chips fairly unchanged, while tech shares slide amid mixed economic and earnings news; U.S. services sector grows in December; Private sector adds 175,000 jobs - ADP; Twitter earnings disappoint after the bell; Disney beats forecasts. Jeanne Yurman reports.
Investors took a look at mixed economic data and earnings news and said "meh". Blue chips were little changed while tech shares stumbled. The U.S. services sector, which accounts for a majority of the country's jobs, chugged ahead last month according to the Institute for Supply Management. Its services index ticked up to 54 from 53 in December. And payroll processing firm ADP said private sector jobs expanded by 175,000 last month. The cold weather, it said, was behind the smallest increase since August. The markets have been unable to shake some possibly troubling signs of an economic slowdown and the challenges facing emerging markets. Famed investor Jim Rogers says these concerns will be with us for a while. SOUNDBITE: JIM ROGERS, CHAIRMAN, ROGERS HOLDINGS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "A lot of markets are going to have serious, serious problems for three or four years until they sort out their basic problems, which they're ignoring." After the bell, Twitter, under pressure to show Tweets translate to profits, beat Street forecasts with a non-GAAP earnings of two cents per share. But its average monthly subscriber number disappointed at 241 million. Dow component Walt Disney handily beat profit and revenue estimates helped by runaway hit "Frozen" and strength in its TV networks. Earlier in the day, Time Warner's space thriller "Gravity" helped propel better-than-forecast quarterly profits. And for the first time ever, it detailed results for HBO, revealing revenues of nearly $5 billion and the biggest jump in U.S. subscribers in 17 years. Merck's earnings missed Street forecasts. But shares of the number two U.S. drugmaker held steady after it said it's working with three other drugmakers to find combo treatments for a future cancer medicine. CVS Caremark became the first national drugstore chain to stop selling tobacco products. The company said selling them was in conflict with its efforts to be known as a health provider. And Google put a three-year antitrust probe by European regulators to rest - and avoided a fine - after agreeing to concessions on how it displays rivals' links on its website. It had been accused of promoting its own services at the expense of other companies like Microsoft. Sticking with Europe, edgy European markets broke a two-week slide thanks to a technical bounce.