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Stocks mixed...Factory output up, but barely...Pending homes sales drop

Monday - 10/28/2013, 11:50am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are mixed in early trading. The S&P 500 is modestly higher, after closing last week at a record high with a boost from technology companies. The Dow is mostly flat in the early going, while the Nasdaq has been wavering between small gains and losses. Stocks have surged this year, in part because companies have been able to keep increasing their earnings even as the economy has failed to escape stall speed.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. factories barely boosted their output in September. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing production rose only 0.1 percent. That's down from a 0.5 percent gain in August. Today's report provides additional evidence that the economy was slowing even before the government shutdown began on Oct. 1.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes dropped sharply in September. The National Association of Realtors says its index fell 5.6 percent last month to a reading of 101.6, dropping below its level from the same time last year. Analysts attribute the drop to higher mortgage rates and higher home prices.

UNDATED (AP) -- Merck & Co. says its third-quarter profit plunged 35 percent. The drugmaker says competition from generic drugs, lower sales of its top-selling medicine, and restructuring and acquisition charges accounted for the drop. While the report still beat Wall Street's profit expectations, Merck sharply lowered its own forecast for the full year and that's sending shares lower.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- CONSOL Energy is selling all five of its longwall coal mines in West Virginia. The mines are being bought by a subsidiary of Murray Energy for a deal that includes $850 million in cash. CONSOL's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J. Brett Harvey says the decision will allow the company to focus more on natural gas exploration and development.

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