Blue-chip stocks dip amid mixed reports, low volume

NEW YORK — Blue-chip stocks fell Tuesday for a second session, and the Nasdaq composite index finished slightly higher on low volume as investors weighed mixed economic reports and took a cautious stance ahead of potential central-bank moves.

“We are suggesting to our investors that they view last week and this week with a cautious eye. Volumes are really low, and a lot of seasoned traders and professionals are on vacation,” said Brad Sorensen, Charles Schwab’s director of market and sector analysis.

“It’ll heat up with Jackson Hole and the Europeans meeting next week,” he said of the Federal Reserve’s annual symposium in Wyoming this weekend and the European Central Bank meeting next Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 21.68 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 13,102.99. The S&P 500 index slipped 1.14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,409.30.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.95 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,077.14.


Lexmark to furlough 1,700, stop making inkjet printers

SAN FRANCISCO — Lexmark is jettisoning its inkjet printers and laying off 1,700 workers as paper becomes increasingly passe in an age of ever-sleeker digital devices and online photo albums.

The shake-up is the latest fallout from the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers that make it easier to store and retrieve content from anywhere with an Internet connection. As a result, computer printers are used less frequently, especially at home.

That’s hurting printer makers, whose revenue is falling at the same time profit margins are being squeezed by fierce competition.

Lexmark International Inc. responded by pulling the plug on its inkjet business. The company, based in Lexington, Ky., will stop making inkjet printers primarily sold to consumers and instead focus on more sophisticated machines aimed at offices and customers that still produce a lot of content on paper, like advertisers and catalog publishers.

People who already own Lexmark inkjets should have no immediate worries. Lexmark plans to sell replacement ink cartridges and other supplies for its obsolescent machines for several more years.


Earnings and lending rise as banking sector strengthens

WASHINGTON — U.S. bank earnings rose 21 percent in the April-June quarter and lending to consumers increased, adding to evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the financial crisis.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that the banking industry earned $34.5 billion in the second quarter, up from $28.5 billion in the second quarter of 2011.

About 63 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings as they were able to set aside less for losses on loans. And the number of troubled banks fell for the fifth straight quarter.

Banks became less cautious about lending. Bank loans to consumers increased in most categories, including credit card loans and home mortgages, reversing a first-quarter decline. “The industry continues to recover at a gradual but steady pace,” said FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg.