Stocks’ rise falters on report about consumer confidence

News that consumers are more pessimistic put the stock market’s rally on hold.

Stocks fell modestly Tuesday after three days of big gains. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12 points for its fourth straight advance, but the gain was largely due to a jump in DuPont Co. after the chemical maker reported strong earnings.

Broader market indexes fell slightly, and there were more losers than gainers on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Conference Board’s report that its Consumer Confidence Index had fallen to 50.4 from June’s revised reading of 54.3 distracted investors from another batch of upbeat earnings reports.

Companies have a different take on the economy from consumers. DuPont Tuesday raised its earnings forecast and beat analysts’ predictions for its second-quarter profit and revenue. Its stock rose $1.39, or 3.6 percent, to $40.38, and accounted for 10.52 points of the Dow’s advance.


GM’s electric Volt, Nissan’s Leaf hit market late this year

General Motors said Tuesday that its electric car will start at $41,000 when it goes on sale in November.

While the Chevrolet Volt’s price is about $8,000 more than its closest rival, the Nissan Leaf, GM will offer a $350-per-month lease deal that’s essentially identical to the Leaf’s. That will put the battery-powered Volt within reach of many people, GM said.

Both cars also are eligible for a federal tax credit that will cut their prices by $7,500. The Volt’s price would fall to $33,500, while the Leaf’s would drop to $25,280 from $32,780.

The Volt, a four-door sedan, runs on battery power for up to 40 miles but has a small gas engine to generate electricity once the battery runs down. The engine can generate power to run the car another 300 miles.

Nissan’s Leaf, which goes on sale in December, can go up to 100 miles on a charge. The car doesn’t have a gas engine and must be recharged once its battery is depleted. Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary said the Leaf itself emits no pollution and is designed for people whose daily travels are within its range.


Obama officials to discuss Fannie, Freddie next month

The Obama administration, which has been under fire for not developing a concrete plan for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, says it will hold a conference next month to discuss their future.

The administration said Tuesday the event will be held Aug. 17 at the Treasury Department.

The financial overhaul signed by President Obama didn’t address their future, despite protests from Republicans that it was incomplete without a plan for the two companies.

So far, stabilizing the mortgage buyers has cost taxpayers $145 billion.


Plan to merge Continental and United passes first test

The proposed merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines cleared its first regulatory hurdle Tuesday when the European Union said it would approve the deal.

But the merger, which would create the largest airline in the world, must still pass muster with U.S. antitrust officials. The mega-deal is expected to face far more rigorous scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice.

European officials determined the transaction wouldn’t adversely affect competition, given the relatively light overlap between United and Continental on trans-Atlantic routes.


GE to pay $23 million over kickbacks in U.N. program

General Electric Co. will pay $23.4 million to settle federal charges that subsidiaries paid illegal kickbacks to Iraq’s government in order to win contracts under a U.N. program.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a civil complaint filed Tuesday in federal court that GE subsidiaries gave cash, computers, medical supplies and other goods worth $3.6 million to the Iraqi health and oil ministries from 2000 to 2003.

The SEC alleged the kickbacks were in return for contracts to supply medical and water purification equipment under the United Nations’ oil-for-food program, which provided humanitarian aid to prewar Iraq.