Stocks Opened Slightly Lower Amid Earnings

U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Wednesday as earnings season started with a warning from Alcoa about slower aluminum consumption, underscoring concerns about sluggish worldwide growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately dipped 32.72 points to 13,440.81. The S&P 500 index was down 1.13 points at 1,440.35. The Nasdaq Composite was up 2.42 points to 3,067.44.

Costco Wholesale Corp.,(COST) on Wednesday reported fiscal-fourth-quarter net income rose 27% as both net sales and total revenue moved 14% higher. For the quarter ended Sept. 2, Costco earned $609 million, or $1.39 a share, compared with $478 million, or $1.08, in the year-earlier quarter. Net sales reached $31.52 billion from $27.59 billion. Total revenue, reflecting membership fees, rose to $32.22 billion from $28.18 billion.

Thanks in part to the baby boom, the employment-population ratio understates the amount that the economy has recovered. Before the recession began, 63 of every 100 people age 16 and over were employed. The percentage plummeted to 58.4 by the fourth quarter of 2009 and hasn’t moved far from there since.

The International Monetary Fund said European banks may need to sell as much as $4.5 trillion in assets through 2013 if policy makers fall short of pledges to stem the fiscal crisis, up 18 percent from its April estimate.

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp announced a massive recall on Wednesday to fix malfunctioning power window switches, saying it will pull back 7.43 million vehicles worldwide in the biggest single recall since 1996, performed by Ford Motor Co (NYS:F).

Danaher Corp. and Cooper Industries said Wednesday that they will sell a tool making business they created two years ago as a joint venture for about $1.6 billion to private equity firm Bain Capital.

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