Investors hold back, await European bankers’ meeting

NEW YORK – Blue-chip stocks finished slightly higher Wednesday, with Wall Street unwilling to make major moves ahead of a European Central Bank meeting Thursday.

“The pattern has been, especially in Europe, that doing something is a heck of a lot better than doing nothing. They’ve stated their intentions clearly and now it’s time to act,” said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

Trading in a narrow range, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.54 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 13,047.48. The S&P 500 index declined by 1.5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,403.44. The Nasdaq composite retreated 5.79 points, or 0.2 percent, to finish at 3,069.27.

S&P 500-component FedEx Corp., viewed as an economic bellwether because it ships goods around the globe, saw its stock slide 2 percent after it reduced its profit outlook.

Producers of corn syrup file new suit in sweetener fight

NEW YORK – The battle of the sweeteners keeps getting stickier.

The nation’s biggest producers of high-fructose corn syrup are countersuing the Sugar Association, saying the group misleads consumers by suggesting its sweetener is to blame for obesity and other health issues.

The claim filed Tuesday is in response to a lawsuit filed last year that accuses corn syrup makers of what it calls false advertising.

The Corn Refiners Association had been running a marketing campaign stating that its syrup is actually a form of sugar and has the same nutritional value as the white, granular table sugar that consumers are familiar with. It has called the Sugar Association’s lawsuit a “silencing campaign” against its efforts to educate consumers. 

Realtors: U.S. homes selling much faster than a year ago

LOS ANGELES – U.S. homes are taking less time to sell than a year ago, reflecting more buyer demand and fewer bank-owned homes and other properties available for sale in some markets.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that the median time a previously occupied home was listed for sale shrank in July to 69 days. That’s down from 98 days in the same month last year.

One-third of the homes purchased in July were on the market for less than a month, while one in five was on the market for at least six months. A home’s median time on the market has been declining steadily since January, the trade group said.