Stocks on Wall Street were lower as each of the major averages dropped after the minutes from the last FOMC meeting indicated several Fed members are ready to vary the pace of bond buying... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., housing starts dropped 8.5% to a 890K rate in January, which was less than forecast. However, building permits were up 1.8% in the month, versus expectations for an increase of 1.2%. Producer prices in January rose 0.2%, versus expectations for an increase of 0.3%. The core producer price inflation figure, which excludes volatile food and energy components, rose 0.2%, which was in line with expectations. The minutes from the FOMC's Jan 29-30 meeting, released at 2 pm ET, said that several Fed members are concerned about the costs and risks of additional asset purchases. Several members of the committee said the Fed should be prepared to vary the pace of asset purchases, as the committee members continued to see moderate economic growth and gradually declining unemployment... COMPANY NEWS: The Office Depot (ODP) and OfficeMax (OMX) merger, reported over the long holiday weekend by the Wall Street Journal, was formally announced by the companies. However, the confirmation was inadvertently released on Office Depot's website ahead of the joint announcement, an error for which Thomson Reuters (TRI) later took responsibility. Shares of both companies, which had run-up after the WSJ story, declined following the confirmation, with Office Depot losing 84c, or 16.73%, to $4.18 and OfficeMax falling $91c, or 7%, to $12.09... Dow member Caterpillar (CAT) dropped $2.38, or 2.49%, to $93.22 after disclosing that global retail machine sales were down 4% in the three month rolling period ending January 31... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers were shares of Chelsea Therapeutics (CHTP), up $1.14, or 149.51%, to $1.91 after the company received FDA guidance for a Northera new drug application resubmission and the stock was upgraded to Buy at Ladenburg. Also higher was NetSpend (NTSP), up $3.52, or 28.64%, to $15.81 after agreeing to be acquired by Total Systems (TSS) for $16 per share. Shares of buyer Total Systems lost $1.51, or 6.43%, to $21.97 following the acquisition. Also lower were shares of Harvest Natural Resources (HNR), down $3.71, or 40.5%, to $5.45 after its agreement to sell interests in Venezuela was terminated since the government of Indonesia voted against the transaction... INDICES: The Dow was down 108.13, or 0.77%, to 13,927.54; the Nasdaq was down 49.18, or 1.53%, to 3,164.41; and the S&P 500 was down 18.99, or 1.24%, to 1,511.95.
America has no tolerance for wealthy people griping about their financial woes. But they have concerns too.