Oct. 31 - Summary: Stocks suffer late-day sell-off but stay strong for October; Chicago factories offer pleasant surprise; ExxonMobil, Expedia rally after exceeding forecasts; Silicon Valley to help fix Healthcare.gov. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street ends October with a little scare. Selling picked up into the close with stocks settling near the lows of the day. But blue chips picked up 2.8 percent in October, the S&P 500 added 4.5 percent and the Nasdaq gained 3.9 percent. In one of the few positive economic surprises in a while, business activity in the Midwest surged past expectations in October as new orders hit their highest level since 2004. Exxon Mobil, one of America's most valuable public companies, beat earnings expectations. The stock settled with a gain of less than one percent. Expedia was one of the best performers one-day after topping forecasts. Shares of the travel website jumped 18 percent. But Visa was the biggest drag on both the Dow and the S&P 500. The world's largest credit and debit card company posted an almost thirty percent drop in quarterly profits. Silicon Valley to the rescue. Healthcare.gov, the troubled website at the heart of Obama's healthcare reform, getting a helping hand from tech titans Google, Oracle and Red Hat. The website needs all the help it can get to meet a White House pledge to fix the site by the end of November. Changes coming to an airplane near you. Regulators will now allow customers to keep on their electronic gadgets to read, play games, and listen to music on the entire flight. But the relaxed rules don't include phone calls or texts, warns Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta. SOUNDBITE: MICHAEL HUERTA, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "All devices should be in airplane mode. However, you will be able to connect through Wi-Fi to an airline's wireless network if the airline provides that service." Gogo is one of the biggest providers of airline wireless service in the U.S. - its stocks rallied 4-1/2 percent. In Europe, Angela Merkel's conservatives rejected U.S. criticism of Germany's dependence on exports, but agreed more needs to be done to spur domestic demand. Stocks in Germany finished higher, along with France but the U.K. ended lower.