Feb. 4 - Summary of business headlines: S&P says target of Department of Justice lawsuit over pre-crisis ratings; Yum earnings frightened by China chicken scare; BlackBerry changes stock ticker; Stocks suffer largest decline of the year. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Bull chips suffered their first triple-digit fumble of the year as economic data provide a slow-down sign for a market sitting at five-year highs. Art Hogan of Lazard Capital Markets has this assessment. SOUNDBITE: ART HOGAN, LAZARD CAPITAL MARKETS, MANAGING DIRECTOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've had a market that is up some 6 percent on a year-to-date basis on the Dow. Up 11 percent from the middle of the summer last year and certainly up about 8 percent since the lows in December of last year. So the market has had a significant run and I don't think anybody believes we are going to annualize a run rate like that being up 6 percent a month." The market was down at least one percent across the board in the worst day for the market of 2013. The U.S. Department of Justice plans to sue Standard & Poor's for debt ratings leading up to the big financial crisis, according to S&P. This would be the first move against a credit rating agency over what some say caused the crisis five years ago. S&P says the expected lawsuit "would be wrong in contending that S&P ratings were motivated by commercial considerations and not issued in good faith." A lack of faith is what investors had, sending shares of McGraw-Hill, the parent of S&P, slumping almost 14 percent. Rival Moody's dropped almost 11 percent. Fitch is owned by France's Fimalac, which closed higher before the news broke. A chicken scare in China at Yum Brands hurt quarterly profit and will prevent full-year earnings from flying the coop. The parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut - grappling with what it calls adverse publicity regarding its poultry supply. The company gets more than half of its overall sales and operating profit from China. BlackBerry moves ahead with a plan to try and shed its dark past. Today the company is in the process of officially dropping the name Research in Motion, officially changing the ticker symbol of its stock to B-B-R-Y. Despite mixed ratings last week of its new BlackBerry 10 devices - the stock soared 15 percent. It was a nasty day in Europe. A political scandal in Spain seemed to be the main catalyst, but not the only concern. Shares in France down 3 percent, Germany down 2-1/2 percent, UK down 1.6 percent.