July 11 - Summary of business headlines: Stocks fall after Fed minutes give few clues of additional stimulus; Crop report slashes harvest forecasts but prices drop; Groupon hits post-IPO low. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street was hoping for a hint of new Fed action but didn't get it. Stocks closed down but off the lows of the day. The Knights of the Fed's roundtable are closer but not yet ready for new attempts to boost the sinking U.S. economy. Minutes from the Federal Reserve's June meeting show more policymakers were on board for a third round of quantitative easing or QE3 than at previous meetings but not enough to announce a new program. It's important to note: the meeting took place before new numbers showing job creation slowed to a monthly average of just 75,000 in the second quarter. Some economists like Sam Coffin of UBS think the Fed is right to be slow with QE3. SOUNDBITE: SAM COFFIN, ECONOMIST, UBS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The reason we don't think it will happen is that many of the risks to the current economy are going to fade. Obviously the strains from Europe aren't going to go away right-a-way, but the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election will be over in four months, and similarly, whoever the new president is, is likely to put forward a pretty rapid plan to address the fiscal cliff." Fiscal cliff is the term given to mandatory spending cuts and tax hikes that will go into effect at the start of next year. From the fiscal cliff to the food cliff; Grain traders in Chicago were busy after the government's crop report drastically cut harvest forecasts, pushing prices back to or near record highs. The Midwest is suffering through the worst drought in a quarter century sparking worries of food inflation. But corn reversed the day's gains as meteorologists up the chances for rain. Groupon is the stock of the day. Shares dropped below $8 for the first time since going public, down some 60 percent from their $20 IPO price. A note out of Citi Research highlighting the leading daily deals website's exposure to Europe was the catalyst. About a quarter of Groupon's sales come from Europe, according to the analyst. Sticking with Europe, a mix-match for the markets after disappointing results from luxury outfitter Burberry. Conway Gittens, Reuters