Airline Stocks Lose Altitude

June 11--TODAY'S INDEXES -- Dow industrials 16,843.88 -102.04

S&P 500 1943.89 -- 6.90

Nasdaq 4331.93 -- 6.06

HITTING TURBULENCE: Airline stocks tumbled in response to a profit warning from German carrier Lufthansa, which said it's being hurt by the expansion of state-owned airlines based in Persian Gulf nations. Lufthansa shares fell 14 percent in Frankfurt, and in the U.S. Delta Airlines lost 2.9 percent, American Airlines Group 3.1 percent and United Continental Holdings 5.2 percent. Boeing dropped 2.3 percent in sympathy with its airline customers.

SPEAKING OF AIRLINERS: U.S.-traded shares of Airbus fell 3.4 percent after the European planemaker lost a 50-plane order from Emirates Airlines.

WORLD WEAKNESS: Major stock indexes suffered their biggest loss in three weeks after the World Bank lowered its forecast for global growth. It says prospects have dimmed for the U.S., Chinese and Russian economies.

TAKEOVER TARGET? One analyst sees often-acquisitive Emerson as a possible suitor for Connecticut-based electrical manufacturer Hubbell, where a change in trustee for a family-owned block of shares is being viewed as a significant event. Analyst Jeffrey Sprague of Vertical Research mentions Emerson and Swiss giant ABB as possible suitors for what he calls "the last man standing" among mid-size U.S. electrical-products firms. Hubbell's class B shares had risen 5 percent on Monday and Tuesday but gave back 3 percent today.

TAX TIME, GOOD TIMES: The February-April period is critical to H&R Block, and the tax preparer topped analysts' estimates with a $929 million profit for the quarter, sending its shares up 4.6 percent. The Kansas City company made more money despite preparing fewer returns, partly because it ended some free online services.

OIL PATCH RUMORS: Anadarko Petroleum shares surged 4.2 percent amid a flurry of takeover speculation. Bloomberg says it's long been viewed as a good match for Exxon Mobil or another major oil company.

LOCAL INDEX: The Bloomberg St. Louis Index fell 0.5 percent, in line with the broader market.


Allied Healthcare 3.7% Synergetics -3.2%

Arch Coal 1.4% Isle of Capri -2.4%

Mallinckrodt 0.9% Huttig Bldg Products -2.1%

LOCAL GAINER: Mallinckrodt moved higher after mutual fund manager Janus reported a 10.2 percent stake, up from 7.2 percent previously.

ANALYST'S INSIGHTS: Robert Shore of Union Gaming Group was encouraged by Tuesday's numbers from Missouri casinos, even though revenue rose just 0.1 percent statewide. "Flattish results this month follow the declining rate of losses in April, which perhaps signals some sign of stabilization following a winter significantly impacted by inclement weather," Shore writes. "The region has been underscored by weakness since the fall of 2013, and we have been anticipating modest sequential improvement this quarter."

THE DAY AHEAD: Thursday is opening day for the World Cup, which is a business problem in some soccer-mad parts of the world. Consulting firm Mercer says that 91 percent of employers in Argentina and 86 percent of firms in Mexico plan to give workers time off when the national team is playing. Most employers say they'll let employees watch the games on televisions in the break room. It will be bad for productivity but good for morale, Mercer says, adding that "group viewing in the breakroom is better than employees calling in sick or hiding in closets with smartphones."

David Nicklaus is business columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Subscribe to his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter @dnickbiz.

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