NEW YORK, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes closed mostly lower Friday despite steady consumer confidence and recent merger announcements.
Computer company Dell, American Airlines and US Airways and food giant Heinz have all been involved in major deals this week. Even if these deals don't all survive to completion, mergers are viewed by many as a sign of corporate confidence and financial health.
Rumors about Walmart's February sales figures weighed heavily on the Dow Jones industrial average as the company's shares dropped 3 percent, analysts said.
The DJIA was up 8.37 points or 0.06 percent to 13,981.76 after a day of choppy trading.
The Nasdaq composite index shed 6.63 points or 0.21 percent to 3,192.03. The Standard and Poor's 500 lost 1.59 points or 0.10 percent to 1,519.79.
On the New York Stock Exchange, there were 1,489 advancers to 1,550 decliners on a composite volume of 3.8 billion shares
The 10-year treasury note fell 4/32 to yield 2.015 percent.
Against the dollar, the euro held steady at $1.3362. The dollar rose to 93.52 yen from 92.87 yen.
The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo lost 1.18 percent, 133.45 points, to 11,173.83.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.01 percent, 0.90 points, to 6,328.26.
Severance for AA's Horton: About $20M
FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Chief Executive Officer Tom Horton will leave American Airlines post-merger with a nearly $20 million severance package, a regulatory fling says.
On Thursday, AA announced its intention to merge with US Airways to create the world's largest airline.
US Airways executive Doug Parker is slated to run the new American and Horton, who was promoted to CEO the day before parent company ARM filed for bankruptcy in November 2011, will step aside, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported Friday.
But he will walk away with a severance package that includes $9,937,500 in cash and $9,937,500 in shares of the new company's common stock, the newspaper reported.
He is credited with recognizing an earlier merger proposal with US airways undervalued AA. By holding out, he was able to negotiate a better deal for AA shareholders, analysts said.
"When there was talk of a merger right when we were at the outset of our restructuring, I thought that was unwise, I didn't think that would create an outcome that maximized value for our owners. I didn't think it would create a good outcome for our people," Horton said.
Among the perks of his severance deal, Horton, who will help with the transition, will be granted a company office for two years. He will also receive travel benefits for life, the newspaper said.
Ford promotes Elena Ford
Elena Ford, currently director of marketing operations, will oversee global standardization of best practices focusing on dealer and customer experiences with the company.
The Detroit Free Press reported Friday that the promotion raises the number of company executives to 38.
Ford's promotion is also noteworthy as she is the first female in the family to obtain such a high ranking in the company. She is also the first family member to become a corporate officer since Bill Ford became vice president of commercial trucks in 1994.
Bill Ford has since become the executive chairman, having relinquished many of his duties to Alan Mulally, when he was hired in 2006 to run the company.
Lawmakers push sales tax bill
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers introduced a new sales tax bill designed to close loopholes that make it harder for small businesses to compete with online retailers.
The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 would give states the option to require the collection of sales and use taxes already owed under state law by out-of-state businesses, rather than rely on consumers to remit those taxes, lawmakers said.
"Small businesses and states alike are suffering from the inability to collect due -- not new -- taxes from purchases made online," U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said Thursday in a statement. "The Marketplace Fairness Act is the bipartisan, bicameral, common-sense solution that promotes states' rights and levels the playing field for our Main Street businesses rather than continuing to allow the government to pick marketplace winners and losers."
The bill introduced Thursday resolves differences between three similar bills introduced in the last Congress, Politico said. Opponents of the measure say the new bill imposes new taxes on online businesses.
Another family member, Edsel Ford, is on the board of directors. Family members as a group also have veto power over board decisions, given they own a controlling interest of company shares.