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Tuesday Evening Business Brief

April 15, 2014, 5:16 PM

Tuesday Evening Business Brief
  • It's been a day of up-and-down trading on Wall Street. The three major indexes all managed to close with gains, extending a modest rally that began yesterday. The S&P 500 rose 12 points, or 0.7 percent, to close just below 1,843. The Dow gained 89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,262. And the Nasdaq added 11 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,034.
  • Three major corporations are reporting quarterly financial results now that the market has closed for the day. Intel says its earnings dropped in the first quarter to 38 cents per share, but that's still a penny better than analysts surveyed by FactSet had predicted. Yahoo's listless advertising sales showed signs of life, though it earnings fell 20 percent. And winter weather slowed CSX. The railroad saws its first-quarter profit drop 14 percent.
  • Merck says the Food and Drug Administration has approved its new tablet for grass allergies. Grastek is meant as an alternative to weekly allergy shots.  Taken daily for a few years, it gradually reduces sensitivity to common grasses instead of temporarily relieving symptoms. The FDA has approved its use for patients from five to 65 years old, but it can cause severe allergic reactions and shouldn't be used by people with severe asthma. Merck says Grastek will be available in U.S. pharmacies later this month.
  • A high-tech screening tool for cervical cancer is facing pushback from more than a dozen patient groups, who warn that the genetic test could displace a simpler, cheaper and more established mainstay of women's health: the Pap smear. The new test uses DNA to detect the human papillomavirus which causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. Its maker, Roche, wants the FDA to approve the test as a first-choice option for cervical cancer screening. But the groups warn that such a shift could lead to overtreatment in some women.
  • Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says Congress' indecision about how to pay for programs is again threatening to shut down road and transit projects across the country. Foxx is on an eight-state bus trip to whip up public support to keep transportation aid flowing to states. The Highway Trust Fund is forecast to run dry sometime before Sept. 30 and possibly as early as July. Foxx says that could result in widespread layoffs of construction workers as well as delaying repairs and improvements.

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