Consumer confidence slides in January

Consumer confidence fell in January after two straight months of big gains as Americans became more worried about their incomes, rising gas prices and overall business conditions, a private research group reported Tuesday. The Conference Board said that its Consumer Confidence Index is at 61.1, down from a revised 64.8 in December. That comes after the index rose by more than 20 points last month from 40.9 in October amid growing signs of an improving economy. Economists watch the confidence numbers closely because consumers’ spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Federal deficit pegged at $1.1 trillion for ‘12

The government will run a $1.1 trillion deficit in the fiscal year that ends in September, a slight dip from last year but still very high by any measure, according to a budget report released Tuesday. The Congressional Budget Office report also says that annual deficits will remain in the $1 trillion range for the next several years if Bush-era tax cuts slated to expire in December are extended, as commonly assumed — and if Congress is unable to live within the tight caps the lawmakers placed on agency budgets last year. It’s commonly assumed that President Barack Obama and lawmakers in Congress will be able to accomplish little on the deficit issue during an election year.

Amazon’s income falls short of projections

Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc.’s fourth-quarter net income dropped sharply, weighed down by higher operating expenses even as its revenue grew. Investors punished the online retailer’s stock in after-hours trading, as the company also gave a disappointing forecast for the current period. Amazon said Tuesday that its net income was $177 million, or 38 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That’s down 57 percent from $416 million, or 91 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 35 percent to $17.4 billion.

Exxon profits grow, but investors worry

Soaring oil prices helped Exxon Mobil post a slightly higher fourth-quarter profit. But a slowdown in production and lower natural gas prices are worrying investors. Exxon’s oil and natural gas production fell 9 percent during the quarter. The drop came even after the company spent a record $36.8 billion last year to explore for more energy. Exxon’s stock price fell $1.74, or 2 percent, to $83.75 a share in midday trade.

Honda earnings drop 41% in 4th quarter

Honda said Tuesday that its net earnings for October to December tumbled 41 percent to $625 million as sales slid 8 percent. The Japanese automobile and motorcycle maker, battered by the strong yen and supply disruptions from Thailand’s floods, also projected a sharply lower full-year profit with a 12.2 percent decline in full-year sales.

From Herald news services