Investors haven't found a reason to ignite a stock market rally today, amid concerns about lack of progress to resolve the "fiscal cliff". The key averages were down modestly in afternoon trading.
- The Commerce Department says consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in October. That's down from an increase of 0.8 percent in September and the weakest showing since May.
- Johnson & Johnson Chairman Bill Weldon will step down from that post in late December. The world's biggest maker of health products has picked new CEO Alex Gorsky to replace him. J&J is operating under increased government oversight and was forced to spend $100 million to gut and rebuild a huge factory in suburban Philadelphia because of quality concerns. The company also faces litigation over faulty hip implants.
- A new survey finds that digital video recorders are now in more than half of all U.S. homes that subscribe to cable or satellite TV services. A survey of 1,300 households found that 52 percent of the ones that have pay-TV service also have a DVR.
- VeriSign says it has won a six-year contract to run the key directories that keep track of ".com" domain names. The company won't be allowed to raise prices on the registration of such names without government approval.