Home Depot’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income dipped 1 percent, hampered by bad winter weather and one fewer week in the period than a year ago. Still, cost cuts helped earnings top Wall Street’s view, and the No. 1 home improvement retailer raised its quarterly dividend by 21 percent.
Cold weather puts small dent in home prices
U.S. home prices fell for the second straight month in December as brutally cold weather, tight supply and higher costs slowed sales. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index declined 0.1 percent from November to December, matching the previous month’s decline. The index is not adjusted for seasonal variations, so the dip partly reflects slower buying as winter weather set in. For all of 2013, however, prices rose by a healthy 13.4 percent, mostly because of big gains earlier in the year. That was the largest calendar year gain in eight years.
Consumer confidence dips slightly
U.S. consumer confidence fell slightly in February over concerns about the near-term outlook for business conditions and jobs. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index dipped to 78.1 this month, down from 79.4 in January. “Consumers believe the economy has improved, but they do not foresee it gaining considerable momentum in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.
JPMorgan Chase to cut 3 percent of workforce
JPMorgan Chase plans to eliminate a total of 8,000 jobs this year as its mortgage business shrinks and as the giant bank aims to control costs at its branches. About half of those job cuts had already been announced. JPMorgan Chase now plans to cut more jobs as it tries to reduce $2 billion in consumer banking expenses by the end of 2016. The 8,000 job cuts this year are equivalent to about 3 percent of JPMorgan’s total workforce of 251,000.