Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks continue slipping after worst loss in weeks

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling, as momentum slows following Wall Street’s worst day in a month on worries about rising virus counts and Washington’s inability to deliver more aid to the economy.

The S&P 500 fell 0.2% in midday trading after earlier swinging between small gains and losses. Most of the stocks in the index were lower, particularly oil producers and other companies whose profits tend to track the strength of the economy.

Counterbalancing them were technology stocks, which rose after AMD said it would buy fellow chipmaker Xilinx for $35 billion.

AMD-XILINX

As world goes online in pandemic, another mammoth chip deal

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Advanced Micro Devices is buying Xilinx for $35 billion in an all-stock deal that will combine the two Silicon Valley chip makers and accelerate an already rapid-fire pace of mergers and buyouts in the industry.

More Zoom meetings, more orders online, and more upgrades for companies trying to meet new demands of millions staying at home has led to a seemingly insatiable appetite for computer chips.

Just last month, Nvidia said it would buy Arm Holdings for up to $40 billion. In July, Maxim Integrated Products was snapped up by Analog Devices for more than $20 billion.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

Consumer confidence dips to 100.9 as virus spreads in US

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence dipped slightly in October as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country.

The Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index fell to a reading of 100.9, from 101.8 in September.

Consumer spending accounts for 70% of economic activity in the U.S., so a decline in confidence gets a lot of attention from economists, especially as the U.S. heads into the holiday shopping season.

Consumer confidence fell to 85.7 in April as large swaths of the country went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

DURABLE GOODS

September factory orders up 1.9%, economists see risks ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose a better-than-expected 1.9% in September with a key category that tracks business investment showing a solid gain as well.

The Commerce Department said the September rise in durable goods orders followed a smaller 0.4% increase in August and was the best gain since an 11.8% surge in July.

Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment spending, rose 1% in September after bigger gains in July and August.

The pace of durable goods orders has slowed since an initial burst in demand as the country re-opened after the spring shutdown.

HOME PRICES

S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller: US home prices up 5.2% in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices posted a robust gain in August — another sign that the American housing market is strong despite economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index shows that home prices were up 5.2% in August from a year earlier. The gain was stronger than economists had expected. Phoenix (up 9.9% from August 2019), Seattle (up 8.5%) and San Diego (7.6%) posted the biggest gains. All 19 cities in the index saw price increases.

The 20-city index excluded prices from the Detroit metropolitan area index because of delays related to pandemic at the recording office in Wayne County, which includes Detroit.

ELI LILLY-COVID TREATMENT

Lilly stays confident in possible COVID drug after setback

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Eli Lilly continues to back a potential COVID-19 treatment despite research showing that it may not work on hospitalized patients.

The drugmaker says it remains confident that its drug may stop COVID from developing in other patients. Researchers are still studying the drug in mild to moderately ill patients.

U.S. government officials said Monday that they put an early end to a study testing the antibody drug in hospitalized patients because it doesn’t seem to be helping them. Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated.

EARNS-LILLY

Lilly misses profit projects as sales of diabetes drug slow

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Eli Lilly and Co. is reporting third-quarter net income of $1.21 billion. On a per-share basis, the Indianapolis company said it had profit of $1.33.

Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs, were $1.54 per share. That’s far short of the per-share earnings of $1.76 that Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey of analysts by Zacks Investment Research. Revenue was $5.74 billion.

Lilly expects full-year earnings in the range of $7.20 to $7.40 per share, with revenue in the range of $23.7 billion to $24.2 billion.

EARNS-MERCK

Strong sales of drugs, vaccines, propel Merck in 3Q

UNDATED (AP) — Drugmaker Merck boosted its third-quarter profit by 55% and blew past Wall Street expectations, due to slightly higher sales, restrained spending and a small, one-time gain.

The Kenilworth, New Jersey, company said it’s making progress on three efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic: two different vaccines and an antiviral drug.

The maker of cancer blockbuster Keytruda today reported net income of $2.94 billion, or $1.16 per share, up from $1.9 billion, or 74 cents, per share a year earlier. Adjusted earnings came to $1.74 per share. Analysts only expected $1.44 per share. Revenue of $12.55 billion also easily beat analyst projections for $12.26 billion.

EARNS-PFIZER

Pfizer tops 3Q earnings views, makes progress on COVID shot

UNDATED (AP) — Drugmaker Pfizer saw its third-quarter profit plunge 71%, mainly due to an $8.1 billion gain a year earlier from selling its consumer health care business. The New York-based company on Tuesday said disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic reduced medicine sales in the U.S. and China by about $500 million. Still, Pfizer raised its profit forecasts slightly for 2020.

Pfizer, one of the leaders in developing a vaccine against COVID-19, said its final-stage test has now enrolled nearly all of the planned 44,000 participants worldwide. The company could seek approval for emergency use from U.S. regulators in late November.

EARNS-CATERPILLAR

As pandemic depresses demand, Caterpillar muscles through 3Q

UNDATED (AP) — Caterpillar’s sales fell 23% in the third quarter as dealers continued to pull back on construction equipment in their showrooms during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the pressures on the broader construction industry, the company’s results topped Wall Street’s expectations.

Revenue declined to $9.88 billion from $12.76 billion a year earlier. Dealers decreased inventories in all regions during the quarter, except for the Asia/Pacific region. Still, Caterpillar managed to beat the $9.67 billion analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research forecast.

BRITAIN-EARNS-BP

BP reports 3Q earnings plunge amid falling demand

LONDON (AP) — BP plc says third-quarter earnings plunged 96% as the COVID-19 pandemic reduced energy prices and demand.

The London-based oil company said Tuesday that profits, excluding one-time items and changes in the value of inventories, dropped to $86 million from $2.25 billion in the same period last year. Underlying replacement cost results rebounded from the second quarter when BP posted a loss of $6.68 billion.

BP is facing the twin challenges of reducing costs to adjust to an era of lower oil prices as the company tries to shift its focus toward renewable energy amid pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. BP has pledged to eliminate or offset all of its carbon emissions by 2050.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CASINOS

Still hampered by virus, US casinos want aid in recovering

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The U.S. casino industry is seeking tax and regulatory relief from the government as it tries to recover from a coronavirus outbreak that cost states more than $2 billion in lost tax revenue while casinos were shut down for four months this year.

Ninety percent of casinos have reopened, but they are operating at restricted levels.

The head of the gambling industry’s national trade group says additional financial aid is needed for casinos and their workers. In an online speech Tuesday at a casino conference, American Gaming Association President Bill Miller said the industry is coming back but needs a hand.

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