Stocks Start in Retreat, Chrysler U.S. Sales Rise 11%

U.S. stocks fell in the early trading on Wednesday as companies from MasterCard Inc. (MA) to Merck & Co. (MRK) reported quarterly results short on revenue and as data missed the mark on private-sector job growth in April. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately declined 48.46 points, or 0.33%, to 14,791.34. The S&P 500 index shed 5.52points, or 0.35%, to 1,592.05. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 6.78 points, or 0.20%, to 3,322.01.

Strong demand for the Ram pickup truck helped drive Chrysler’s sales up 11 percent last month as the company posted its best April in six years. Chrysler said it sold 156,698 cars and trucks last month, led by the Ram pickup with sales of 31,409.

MasterCard Inc.’s MA -1.69% first-quarter profit increased 12.3% as spending on its credit and debit cards rose 10.5%, though revenue missed Wall Street expectations. It earned $766 million, or $6.23 per share, up from $682 million, or $5.36 per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 8.4% to $1.91 billion.

Merck & Co. Inc. MRK -2.89% said its first-quarter profit fell to $1.59 billion, or 52 cents a share, from $1.74 billion, or 56 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue fell to $10.67 billion, from $11.73 billion a year earlier.

Private-sector employment growth slowed down in April, hitting the lowest result in seven months as tax hikes and government spending cuts took a toll, Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported Wednesday. Private employers added 119,000 jobs in April, the weakest gain since September, compared with 131,000 in March, according to ADP’s monthly report.

Comcast Corp. on Wednesday said its net income rose 17 percent in the latest quarter, powered by continued strong results from its cable operations. Comcast earned $1.44 billion, or 54 cents per share, in the first quarter. That was up from $1.22 billion, or 45 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 2.9 percent to $15.31 billion. Analysts were expecting half a percent more, at $15.38 billion.

The Federal Reserve’s debate over U.S. monetary policy could begin to shift away from the prospect of reducing stimulus toward a discussion about doing more, given the signs of economic weakness and slowing inflation.






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