MarketWatch Top 10 stories Jan. 24 - 28
The Dow (DJIA) fell 0.41% on the week, its first weekly drop in nine weeks.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPX) declined 23.20, or 1.79%, to 1276.34, its biggest one-day drop since Aug. 11, 2010. It fell 0.55% on the week.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (COMP) tumbled 68.39, or 2.48%, to 2686.89, its biggest one-day drop since Aug. 11, 2010. It slipped 0.10% on the week. Nasdaq OMX Group restored the measure following dissemination issues earlier in the session.
Also, please be sure to watch our Week Ahead videos for Asia, Europe and the U.S.
U.S. Week Ahead: Consumers, Jobs, and Exxon
Europe Week Ahead: ECB Meeting, BP, Shell results
Asia Week Ahead: Sony and Honda results
Greg Morcroft, assistant managing editor
The U.S. economy, fueled by gains in consumer spending, grew at a faster pace in the fourth quarter, raising hopes that it's on self-sustaining path, government data showed Friday. In its first estimate of growth for the final three months of 2010, the Commerce Department said gross domestic product rose at a 3.2% annual rate, faster than the 2.6% pace seen during the interval spanning July, August and September. Read MarketWatch coverage of U.S. economic growth
With one eye on his reelection and one on the divided Congress, President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to set aside partisan differences and bolster the economic recovery and America's competitiveness in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. In a wide-ranging address, Obama called for new spending on clean energy technology, a lower corporate tax rate and a five-year freeze on domestic discretionary spending. Read MarketWatch coverage of President Obama's State of the Union speech
Foreclosure activity showed signs of easing in some of the hardest-hit markets last year, even though filings rose on a nationwide basis as the country dealt with high unemployment rates, according to a report released by RealtyTrac on Thursday. Nationwide, one in every 45 homes received a foreclosure filing in 2010, according to RealtyTrac. Foreclosure activity increased in 149 of the nation's 206 areas with a population of 200,000 or more. Here are the markets with the highest rates of foreclosure filings for 2010. See MarketWatch story on foreclosure data
Standard & Poor's on Thursday cut Japan's long-term sovereign-credit rating, with the news sending the yen sharply lower against its major rivals. The rating agency said it downgraded Japanese debt to AA minus from AA, but it also reaffirmed the nation's short-term ratings at A-1 plus. S&P said in a statement that it "expects Japan's fiscal deficits to remain high in the next few years, which will further reduce the government's already weak fiscal flexibility." See MarketWatch story on S&P's downgrade of Japan
Shares of Netflix Inc. (NFLX) climbed sharply this week after the company issued a first-quarter forecast that easily exceeded Wall Street's expectations, and said more than one-third of new customers are signing up for its $7.99 per month stream-only plan introduced in November. Analysts lavished praise upon the Los Gatos, Calif.-based pioneer of online DVD rental and streaming firm. See MarketWatch's Netflix coverage
Ford Motor Co. (F) shares retreated more than 14% early Friday, after the auto maker reported an unexpected loss in Europe as well as a steep drop in fourth-quarter profit. The stock on Friday posted its worst one-day percentage decline since the spring of 2009, when it dropped 17.6%. The shares, however, are still up 42% in the past year. Read MarketWatch coverage of Ford earnings results
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) posted sharply higher fourth-quarter profit Tuesday, helped by strong wireless sales and a one-time pension-related gain. The company also outlined aggressive plans to grow its earnings this year, with the help of the iPhone 4, which will go on sale early next month. To lure customers from arch-rival AT&T Inc. Verizon said it plans to continue offering an unlimited data plan, but only on a temporary basis. Read MarketWatch story about Verizon results and its plans for offering Apple's iPhone
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that its policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee voted to again hold its key interest rate at a record low 0%-to-0.25% range and continue on course with its $600 billion Treasury-buying program. The vote was unanimous. In its statement, the Fed made relatively few changes to the policy statement the central bank issued in December.In two changes, the Fed noted that commodity prices had risen but repeated its position that underlying inflation is still trending lower. Read all coverage of the FOMC on MarketWatch
Egypt got Davos's attention Friday. The annual gathering of world leaders, government ministers and corporate executives in the Swiss Alps paid little attention to Egypt in panel discussions and workshops, Wednesday and Thursday, participants said. But that changed as news reports said the Egyptian army moved into the streets of Cairo Friday, after police battled massive protests across the country. Spreads on Egyptian credit default swaps soared and the nation's currency plunged. Oil prices surged, in turn slamming U.S.stocks. Read MarketWatch coverage of Egypt developments
Over the last two weeks since Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Steve Jobs announced he was taking his third medical leave, speculation has been running rampant over who might succeed him if his health does not improve. It seems pretty clear that Apple has a succession plan in place, and that Tim Cook — the company's chief operating officer who has ably stepped in for Jobs before — is the man. Yet the rumors still fly that former Google (GOOG) CEO and now chairman Eric Schmidt may replace Jobs. But there are many reasons why Schmidt will not end up over at Apple. Read Tech Tales column on Apple, Jobs, and Schmidt