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Feb. 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM
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Dow slips under 14,000

NEW YORK, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The Dow Jones industrial average ducked under 14,000 quickly Monday after closing above the psychological benchmark Friday.

It was the Dow's highest close since Oct.12, 2007. But the mark quickly eroded Monday after the Census Bureau said factory orders rose less than expected in December, climbing 1.8 percent over November. Economists had predicted a rise of 2.2 percent.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow gave up 115.74 points or 0.83 percent to 13,894.05. The Nasdaq index shed 39.30 points or 1.24 percent to 3,139.80.

The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 14.13 points or 0.93 percent to 1,499.04.

The 10-year treasury note rose 14/32 to yield 1.969 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro was $1.3515 from Friday's $1.3651. The dollar was 92.31 yen from 92.78 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.62 percent, 69.01 points, to 11,260.35.

In London, the FTSE 100 index dropped 1.58 percent, 100.40 points, to 6,246.84.

Factory orders up 1.8 percent in December

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. factory orders for manufactured goods rose in December, but fell short of gains economists had expected, the Census Bureau said Monday.

New orders were up by 1.8 percent, increasing by $8.6 billion to $484.8 billion. Economists, however, had expected a rise of 2.2 percent.

The increase exceeded the 0.8 percent improvement in October and the 0.3 percent decline in November, a figure revised from a month earlier, when November's new orders were reported as a slight gain.

Excluding transportation, new manufacturing orders rose by 0.2 percent.

As that implies, new orders for transportation items, which include planes, trains and ships, included the bulk of the new business. Of the $8.6 billion overall increase, transportation items made up $7.9 billion of that. Transportation orders were up 11.7 percent to $75.6 billion.

In December, new orders for non-durable goods fell by 0.3 percent or $800 million to $254.8 billion.

44% of U.S. families live week-to-week

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- About 44 percent of U.S. households have almost no savings to cushion a job loss, health crisis or other income-depleting emergency, a non-profit group says.

The 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard by Corporation for Enterprise Development said these families lack adequate savings to cover basic expenses at the federal poverty level for three months if they suffer a loss of stable income.

Included in this group are the Americans who live below the official income poverty line of $23,050 for a family of four and 26 percent of households earning $55,465 to $90,000 a year.

Because these Americans are struggling to cover daily expenses, they have limited savings, high debt, bad credit and little ability to save for college, buy a home or set aside money for retirement, the scorecard said.

"In order to cope with the recession's continued impact, these families have had to prioritize today's expenses over tomorrow's goals," Andrea Levere, president of Corporation for Enterprise Development, said in a statement.

The Scorecard also found that white households have 10 times the median net worth of households of color -- $110,973 and $10,824, respectively. The home ownership rate for white households was 72 percent, while 46 percent of households of color owned a home.

For the second year in a row, more than half -- 56.4 percent -- of consumers have sub-prime credit rates, meaning they do not qualify for short-term credit at "prime" rates, making them more likely to turn to high-cost payday, auto-title or installment loans, the scorecard said.

Two out of every three college graduates left school with student loan debt, the average amount of which increased by $553 over last year's to total $26,600, Levere said.

NYC manufacturing continues to expand

NEW YORK, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Business activity in New York City rose in January, its second fastest expansion in nine months, the Institute of Supply Management said Monday.

A report from ISM-NY Inc. said the city's Index for Current Business Conditions came in at 56.7 in January, 1 point behind a revised 57.7 reading for December.

While the index measuring current conditions was relatively strong, the index measuring optimism for the next half a year, the Six-Month Outlook index, fell to a four-month low, dropping to 60 from a revised December reading of 69.

In the index, figures above 50 indicate growth and figures below 50 indicate contraction.

For January, the employment index rose to a four-month high, climbing to 53.1 from December's mark of 49.7, which was a seven-month low.

ISM said for the first time in three months the most common response to a list of business impediments was "no difficulties."

In January, 32 percent of respondents said "no difficulties" while 25 percent indicated that a shortage of skilled labor was a business concern.

A working capital shortage was listed by 21 percent of the respondents. That was followed by security concerns, listed by 18 percent.

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