Lull in automotive sales causes dip in retail sector
Sales at the nation's retailers dropped by 0.9 percent in January, largely reflecting a sharp decline in car and truck sales as consumers took a breather after going on an automobile shopping spree.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the 0.9 percent over-the-month decline in retail sales followed a 2 percent rise in December.
But excluding automobile sales, which can swing widely from month to month, retail sales actually rose by 1.3 percent in January, the biggest gain since September 2000. Sales at automobile dealers declined by 7.5 percent in January, the biggest drop since November 2001.
Above, auto salesman Sonny Jenkins shows a Ford Explorer to Mike Gross, left, Thursday at Chapman Ford in Philadelphia.
Dell earnings on rise
Dell Computer Corp., one of the leading barometers of the global computer industry, on Thursday reported record fourth-quarter sales and sharply higher profits as sales of servers and storage devices surged.
The world's No. 2 personal-computer maker earned $603 million in its fourth quarter, ended Jan. 31, up 32 percent from net income of $456 million in the same period a year ago.
The income worked out to 23 cents per share, up from 17 cents in the same quarter last year. The per-share earnings met the consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.
McDonald's stock continues slump
McDonald's Corp. stock slumped Thursday to its lowest level since 1994 after the company reported a bigger sales decline than expected in Europe, its second biggest market.
The hamburger chain said after trading closed Wednesday that January sales at McDonald's restaurants open at least a year were down 2.4 percent worldwide from a year earlier, including 0.5 percent in the United States and 3.8 percent in Europe.
McDonald's shares declined 26 cents to close Thursday at $13.57 on the New York Stock Exchange.