July 9 - Summary of business headlines: Alcoa kicks-off earnings season with results that were not as bad as feared; Wall Street declines as global economy worries grow; WellPoint to buy Amerigroup for $4.5 billion in Medicaid play; Boeing flies out of the gate at UK air show. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street begins a new trading week on edge after data out of Asia highlight how fast the global economy is slowing. The Dow and the S&P 500 are down 3 days in a row, while the Nasdaq is down 2. Results out of Alcoa provide a somewhat better read of the global economy. A drop-off in second-quarter sales was not as big as expected, thanks to demand from the auto and aerospace industries; which means Alcoa was able to sell enough product to partly compensate for aluminum prices near two-year lows. Profits were squeezed by those low prices but even there earnings, ex-items, were not as bad as forecast. Still, with inventories high and prices low many aluminum producers are losing money. The stock of the day is: Amerigroup. Shares surged 38 percent after the health insurer agreed to be bought by rival WellPoint. This is the first major deal of the sector after the Supreme Court backed parts of President Obama's Affordable Care Act and analysts don't expect this to be the last. Insurers will be looking for a bigger share of public dollars with state-sponsored medical care expected to jump under the new law. Gentleman, start your engines, sales engines that is. The battle for plane orders begins with Boeing landing a $7.2 billion sale, beating out bitter rival Airbus, at a key aerospace show in England. The global economic slowdown is not expected to ground sales as air carriers look to cut costs by upgrading fleets. Turning to European markets - stocks lacked altitude - finishing lower. Conway Gittens, Reuters