How Can I Make My Manufacturing Company More Effective

Running a successful manufacturing company necessitates the development of a strategic plan that will help ensure that your business operates as effectively as possible. In many cases, manufacturing business owners don’t know which strategies to implement to realize this goal. However, the following strategies can prove effective in helping your manufacturing company expedite and optimize various components of its operations:

1. Get Great Coating Services.

The weight of your manufacturing company’s reputation rests on the shoulders of your products. For this reason, it’s critically important that the most environment-friendly and effective coating methods are used during your manufacturing processes. With this idea in mind, you should note that the PVD coatings processes produce quality finishes that can be used for numerous substrates, including plastic, metal, or glass. Companies like Vergason provide manufacturing business owners with these wear coating services.

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2. Connect With Your Target Market Online.

Another strategy you can implement to make your manufacturing business more successful is to connect with your target market online. This strategy will help your business optimize its advertising platform. There are a wide range of online venues through which you can interface with your target audience, and some of them include social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. By implementing a strong social media marketing campaign, you can improve the brand loyalty process and thereby optimize your conversion rates. To ensure that your SMO campaign is absolutely incredible, be sure to employ an established digital firm with an excellent industry reputation and years of experience working with manufacturing businesses.

3. Update Your Technology.

One final technique you can deploy to make your manufacturing business more effective is to update your technology. In many cases, manufacturing companies miss key opportunities to optimize daily operations or communicate with clients because of the use of outdated equipment. Although you may have already invested in cloud services, it’s important to note that this form of technology is being continually updated and there are now cloud management companies that can help you use it more effectively.

Conclusion

Making your manufacturing business more effective is not a magical or mysterious process. Rather, heightening business efficacy is all about systematically implementing proven methodologies that yield tangible results. By getting great coating services, connecting with your customers online, and updating your technology, you’ll likely find that you are able to make your manufacturing company more effective than ever!

Emojis May Soon Replace Pin Codes in Online Banking

emoji_iphone_screenshot.jpg?downsize=635:475&output-quality=80&output-format=jpg

Adding a touch of emotions and fun to online banking, a British company has launched a “more secure” alternative to the traditional four-digit pin code – emojis!

Intelligent Environments, a London-based company which provides banking software, has claimed that its Emoji Passcode service is more secure because there are more potential combinations of the 44 emojis than there are of the numbers 0-10.

“Why can’t financial service be fun and innovative?” said David Webber, managing director of Intelligent Environments, adding that the system was designed to appeal to 15 to 25-year-olds.

Webber added that his company had not patented the idea.

“I don’t think it’s patentable. But I do think we are the first people to have thought of it,” Webber said.

Webber added that some digital banks have already expressed interest in the Emoji Passcode service.

Cyber-security expert Professor Alan Woodward said that patterns and images were already used by some firms as a useful alternative to remembering complex sequences of numbers and letters, the BBC reported.

“I think this is an interesting and potentially valuable step forward,” Woodward said.

According to Woodward, the permutations and combinations of emojis would require a hacker to run through a much greater number of cycles than they do for so-called ‘dictionary attacks’.

“But I’m sure there are hackers who will work on breaking into these systems so I think it still makes sense to have some sort of two-factor authentication,” Woodward added.

U.S. Budget Deficit Drops to $82.4 Billion in May

Budget Deficit

The U.S. budget deficit for May dropped sharply from the level a year ago but much of the improvement reflected a calendar quirk.

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Wednesday that the May deficit dropped to $82.4 billion, down from a deficit of $130 billion in May 2014. But last year’s deficit was inflated because June 1 fell on a Saturday, requiring the government to mail out $35 billion in June benefit payments in May of last year.

For the first eight months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, the deficit totals $365.2 billion, down 16.3 percent from the same period last year. This year’s deficit improvement has been helped by a stronger economy, which has pushed up tax receipts by 8.6 percent.

The revenue increase pushed receipts to $2.1 trillion for the period October through May. Outlays were up at a slower pace, rising 4 percent to $2.47 trillion.

The government has run a deficit in May for 60 of the past 61 years. The May deficit followed a $156.7 billion surplus in April, when a flood of tax payments pushed government receipts to an all-time monthly high.

The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that the deficit for the full year will total $486 billion, little changed from last year’s deficit of $483.4 billion.

The 2014 deficit was down from $680.2 billion in 2013. Before then, the U.S. had recorded four straight years of annual deficits topping $1 trillion. That reflected the impact of a severe financial crisis and the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In the budget plan President Barack Obama unveiled for 2016, his final full year in office, the president is seeking authorization from Congress to spend $4 trillion and is projecting a deficit of $474 billion.

Obama’s spending plan would boost spending on domestic and military programs and seek to raise taxes by $2 trillion by raising levies on the wealthy, corporations and smokers.

Republicans have attacked Obama’s proposed tax increases and the fact that under Obama’s spending plans, the budget will never reach balance. A GOP budget which cleared Congress last month seeks to balance the government’s books over the next decade. It would cut spending on domestic programs and government benefits like Medicaid and food stamps.

Democrats have charged that the GOP budget only balances on paper because Republican lawmakers will balk at approving the follow-up legislation to enact the painful cuts needed to achieve balance without raising taxes.

'Throwing Shade': Taco Bell Execs Bone Up on Youth Lingo

Taco Bell Millennials
Taco Bell executives are studying a strange new vocabulary emerging on this side of the border — the lingo of its young customers.

CEO Brian Niccol said the company features a “Millennial Word of the Week” at its headquarters as a reminder of how the chain’s biggest fan base communicates. Niccol said the words are “curated” by a group of employees in their 20s who send out an email every Tuesday or Wednesday. The words are also posted on screens and monitors around the office in Irvine, California.

The practice is another illustration of how eager companies are to understand millennials, who marketers say have quirks and traits that separate them from past generations. It’s a demographic that’s particularly important for Taco Bell, which is known for having younger customers who gobble up creations like Dorito-flavored tacos.

In the past, Niccol has said Taco Bell’s success has been driven by the time it spends understanding what makes its customers tick. That apparently includes familiarity with the way they talk.

One installment of the “Millennial Word of the Week,” for instance, featured the word “lit.” According to a company email, the word is an adjective “used to describe a certain situation, person, place or thing as awesome/crazy or just ‘happening’ in general.”

As an example of usage, it said, “Taco Bell was so lit last night. I had to wait in line for 15 minutes before I could order.”

Other slang terms featured in Taco Bell’s weekly updates have included “throwing shade,” which Urban Dictionary says is to publicly denounce or disrespect a person and “Dat ___, doe,” which translates to “That ___, though,” and is used to emphasize that something is “particularly awesome,” according to Urban Dictionary.

“Some of these words you see, I don’t even know how you could use that in a sentence,” said Niccol, 41.

That proved true last year when he spoke at a presentation by Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands (YUM), which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut. At the time, Niccol informed the audience of analysts and investors about the millennial phrase “on cleek,” which he explained meant “on point.”

Later, the website Buzzfeed noted that Niccol had meant to say “on fleek.” In a conversation with The Associated Press, Niccol said his social media team was quick to correct him after the meeting.

“The next day they were like, ‘You were close,'” Niccol said. “I accused them of telling me it’s ‘on cleek.'”

Taco Bell’s push to connect with teens isn’t limited to a study of their linguistics patterns, of course. Niccol said the chain is also formalizing a “teen advisory board” that will meet regularly and give the company feedback on what’s happening in culture.

“In the end, that’s how Taco Bell stays relevant,” Niccol said.

Jack Welch Grills Obama, Romney on Policy

John F. “Jack” Welch, former chairman and chief executive of General Electric, grilled presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on their economic and business policies on CNBC Wednesday.

The author of “Winning” and “Straight from the Gut,” also offered his own “checklist” for America’s next chief executive.

I’m Successful. Why Would I Want Obama?

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) often treads ideological ground slightly to the left of rival Hillary Clinton — but has also praised President Ronald Reagan for his message of renewal and his bipartisan appeal.

Welch’s question to Barack: “As a businessman, what do you tell the thousands of employees in corporations today — who have good healthcare, pensions and job security, but who could be threatened by lower capital formation — why they should vote for you?”

The Democratic candidate’s response: “The [U.S.] economy is strongest when it’s working for everybody … When people in the bottom and middle do well, everyone does well.”

Barack said he seeks to “create a health care system that doesn’t waste billions of dollars,” as well as shape energy and security policies that garner public trust and peace of mind.

Romney: Empty Promises for Detroit?

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and organizer of the 2002 Winter Olympics, has real experience in the business world: He led Boston-based private equity group Bain Capital from 1984 to 1999, investing in successful companies like Staples. But in his campaign tour through Michigan, he vowed to save and revive jobs lost from the U.S. auto industry.

Welch’s question to Romney: “A lot of us were discomfited by [Romney’s supposed] promises to bring jobs back to Detroit. We realize there has to be a message of hope, but should there not also be a touch of realism?”

The Republican candidate’s response: “These jobs don’t have to be gone forever. Detroit can remain the center of the world automobile industry — through technology.”

“We’ve underinvested in tech: Hybrid tech came from Japan, battery tech came from a lot of other places … I want to see us invest in tech at the corporate level — and at the governmental level.”

He added, “America needs someone with real experience in the private sector — someone who actually understands why jobs come and go.”

Welch’s Way: The CEO President

Welch offered CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla and Joe Kernan his checklist of traits that America’s president ought to have — the same qualities that make for a good corporate CEO.

Authenticity: “If the leader doesn’t have it, the employees — the citizens — won’t believe in him.” He pointed to Romney’s “pandering” in Michigan and to Hillary Clinton’s much-discussed teary breakdown.

“We debated for a week, on TV in the newspapers,” whether her crying was genuine or a mere publicity ploy. “We shouldn’t even have to wonder. We should know.”

The Vision Thing“: Taking an ironic phrase from George H.W. Bush, Welch maintained the necessity of detailing a mission. “Where are we going; how do we hget there; and how will it benefit you?” He praised John F. Kennedy’s vow to put an American on the moon by the end of the 1960s as a classic example.

Hiring. Welch said choosing talent is far more difficult for the president than for a business executive — and explained why the corporate model would be more efficient than the political one.

“Say I name you the head of the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]. You’re [former Republican EPA chief] Christine Todd Whitman and the people under you say you’re anti-environment. Your employees have been there for years and years — and they have the guns out. And soon you’re wearing a bullet-proof vest.”

Welch maintained that in a corporation, ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would not have remained in the post for so long “not doing a good job. You’ve got to move these people out.”

Stocks Plunge After Services-Sector Drop

Stocks tumbled Tuesday after an unexpectedly sharp contraction in the U.S. services sector and a fresh downgrade in the financial sector.

Within the first five minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 150 points and just kept going. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq also declined.

European shares continued to slide for a second day after a report that service-sector growth in the euro zone fell to a four-and-a-half-year low in January, fueling concerns that the U.S. slowdown may be spilling over into Europe.

Spain in particular took a hit, recording the its slowest ever rate of growth in the service sector. “The sky is tumbling in on the Spanish services sector,” Bear Stearns analysts wrote in a note.

Asian stocks also extended their losing streak amid global-recession fears.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that itsnonmanufacturing index, which measures the performance of the U.S. services sector, plunged to 41.9 from 54.4 in December. Economists had expected a more modest drop to 53.

The services sector represents about 80 percent of U.S. economic activity, including businesses such as banks, airlines, hotels and restaurants.

Goldman Sachs shares slipped after Oppenheimer downgraded the stock, citing valuation and other factors.

On Monday, downgrades on credit-card providers such as American Express and a slew of other financials dragged down the market. Analysts are growing increasingly concerned that consumers are falling behind on their loan payments.

In earnings news, oil giant BP reported that fourth-quarter replacement cost (RC), which strips out unrealized gains on fuel inventories, fell 24 percent to $2.97 billion. But BP’s shares gained 1.8 percent in premarket trading after the company said it favored returning money to shareholders via dividends, rather than share buybacks.

The parent of the New York Stock Exchange, trans-Atlantic NYSE-Euronext , said its profit rose to $156 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with net income of $45 million, or 29 cents per share in the year-ago period — before the merger with Euronext.

News Corp. , which closed a $5.6 billion deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones in December, said quarterly profit rose just 1.2 percent to $832 million from $822 million a year earlier, in line with expectations.

Power company Duke Energy posted earnings of 27 cents per share and beat analyst estimates. The company also provided an outlook for 2008 that was above expectations.

Medical-device maker Boston Scientific posted a net loss of $458 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with a year-ago net profit of $277 million, or 19 cents a share.

The net loss included acquisition, divestiture, litigation and restructuring-related charges and amortization expense (pre-tax) of $939 million, or 55 per share, the company said.

Politics will take center stage on this Super Tuesday, as more than 20 states hold primaries for the presidential election.

Analysts said the biggest challenge of the campaign will be the economy.

“I think a recession is probable,” Vince Farrell, managing director at Scotsman Cap Management, told “Worldwide Exchange.”

Recession Concerns Keep Stocks Down

Stocks tumbled Tuesday after an unexpectedly sharp contraction in the U.S. services sector and a fresh downgrade in the financial sector.

Within the first five minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 150 points and just kept going. In intraday trading, the Dow was off more than 12 percent from the closing high of 14164.53 set on Oct. 9. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq also declined.

 

 

European shares continued to slide for a second day after a report that service-sector growth in the euro zone fell to a four-and-a-half-year low in January, fueling concerns that the U.S. slowdown may be spilling over into Europe.

Spain in particular took a hit, recording the its slowest ever rate of growth in the service sector. “The sky is tumbling in on the Spanish services sector,” Bear Stearns analysts wrote in a note.

Asian stocks also extended their losing streak amid global-recession fears.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that itsnonmanufacturing index, which measures the performance of the U.S. services sector, plunged to 41.9 from 54.4 in December. Economists had expected a more modest drop to 53. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. This was the lowest reading since October 2001, when the Sept. 11 attacks caused the U.S. to slip into a mild recession.

The services sector represents about 80 percent of U.S. economic activity, including businesses such as banks, airlines, hotels and restaurants. The ISM report underscored concerns that the fallout from the housing-sector slump is spreading to the broader economy.

“The recession has indeed arrived,” Jane Caron, chief economic strategist at Dwight Asset Management in Burlington, Vermont, told Reuters.

Goldman Sachs shares slipped after Oppenheimer downgraded its rating on the stock to “perform” from “outperform,” citing valuation and other factors.

On Monday, downgrades on credit-card providers such as American Express and a slew of other financials dragged down the market. Analysts are growing increasingly concerned that consumers are falling behind on their loan payments.

Investors also sold technology stocks, which are seen as particularly vulnerable to a downturn in business and consumer spending. Shares of business-software maker Oracledeclined as did blue chips Microsoft and Intel. Telecom-service providers AT&T and Verizon were among the biggest drags on the Dow.

Apple was among the few stocks pushing into the green after the company introduced new models iPods and iPhones with double the memory of previous versions.

Yahoo shares were flat after Banc of America cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy” and raised its price target to $31 from $26. UBS and Citigroup also raised their targets on the stock, to $34 and $31, respectively.

In earnings news, oil giant BP reported that fourth-quarter replacement cost (RC), which strips out unrealized gains on fuel inventories, fell 24 percent to $2.97 billion. But BP’s shares gained 1.8 percent in premarket trading after the company said it favored returning money to shareholders via dividends, rather than share buybacks.

The parent of the New York Stock Exchange, trans-Atlantic NYSE-Euronext , said its profit rose to $156 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with net income of $45 million, or 29 cents per share in the year-ago period — before the merger with Euronext.

News Corp. , which closed a $5.6 billion deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones in December, said quarterly profit rose just 1.2 percent to $832 million from $822 million a year earlier, in line with expectations.

Power company Duke Energy posted earnings of 27 cents per share and beat analyst estimates. The company also provided an outlook for 2008 that was above expectations.

Medical-device maker Boston Scientific posted a net loss of $458 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with a year-ago net profit of $277 million, or 19 cents a share.

The net loss included acquisition, divestiture, litigation and restructuring-related charges and amortization expense (pre-tax) of $939 million, or 55 per share, the company said.

Politics will take center stage on this Super Tuesday, as more than 20 states hold primaries for the presidential election.

Fed Comments Push Stocks Even Lower

Stocks tumbled Tuesday after an unexpectedly sharp contraction in the U.S. services sector and a fresh downgrade in the financial sector.

Stocks got an extra push from the Federal Reserve after Richmond Fed Bank President Jeffrey Lacker said he sees “the possibility of a mild recession, similar to the last two we have experienced — in other words, shallow and with a short recovery.” Lacker said further rate cuts may be necessary, but aren’t a sure thing.

Within the first five minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 150 points and just kept going. In intraday trading, the Dow was off more than 12 percent from the closing high of 14164.53 set on Oct. 9. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq also declined.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that itsnonmanufacturing index, which measures the performance of the U.S. services sector, plunged to 41.9 from 54.4 in December. Economists had expected a more modest drop to 53. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. This was the lowest reading since October 2001, when the Sept. 11 attacks caused the U.S. to slip into a mild recession.

The services sector represents about 80 percent of U.S. economic activity, including businesses such as banks, airlines, hotels and restaurants. The ISM report underscored concerns that the fallout from the housing-sector slump is spreading to the broader economy.

“The recession has indeed arrived,” Jane Caron, chief economic strategist at Dwight Asset Management in Burlington, Vermont, told Reuters.

European shares continued to slide for a second day after a report that service-sector growth in the euro zone fell to a four-and-a-half-year low in January, fueling concerns that the U.S. slowdown may be spilling over into Europe.

Spain in particular took a hit, recording the its slowest ever rate of growth in the service sector. “The sky is tumbling in on the Spanish services sector,” Bear Stearns analysts wrote in a note.

Asian stocks also extended their losing streak amid global-recession fears.

Another Downgrade for Financials

Goldman Sachs shares slipped after Oppenheimer downgraded its rating on the stock to “perform” from “outperform,” citing valuation and other factors.

Downgrades on credit-card providers such as American Express and a slew of other financials dragged down the market a day earlier. Analysts are growing increasingly concerned that consumers are falling behind on their loan payments.

Technology stocks, which are seen as particularly vulnerable to a downturn in business and consumer spending, were mostly lower Tuesday.

Apple fared better than some of its tech counterparts after the company introduced new models iPods and iPhones with double the memory of previous versions.

Google advanced amid rumors that Yahoo might outsource its search function to Google and an announcement that Google is adding more business email security and storage products. The products build on technology acquired when Google bought email specialist Postini last year for $625 million, AP reported. The products are designed to weed out junk mail and viruses and prevent security breaches.

Some of the Google gain could be bargain hunting; the Internet giant is down 33 percent from its closing high of $741.79 on Nov. 6. For those of you keeping score, the stock is still up nearly 500% from its IPO price of $85.

Bespoke Investment Group noted on its blog (http://bespokeinvest.typepad.com/) that Google stock looks similar to Microsoft did when it was at the same stage in its corporate lifespan. After 871 trading days, Microsoft was up 458 percent; Internet giants Amazon and eBay were up nearly 1800 percent and Yahoo was up nearly 8,000 percent, the analysts noted.

“Twenty years from now, Google can only hope that it is up 43,000 percent from its IPO price like Microsoft currently is,” Bespoke said.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft said it sent a major package of upgrades and fixes for Windows Vista to manufacturers for mass production on Monday.

Analysts Raise Price Target on Yahoo

Yahoo shares were flat after Banc of America cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy” and raised its price target to $31 from $26. UBS and Citigroup also raised their targets on the stock, to $34 and $31, respectively.

Shares of business-software maker Oracledeclined as did blue chips Microsoft and Intel. Telecom-service providers AT&T and Verizon were among the biggest drags on the Dow.

In earnings news, oil giant BP reported that fourth-quarter replacement cost (RC), which strips out unrealized gains on fuel inventories, fell 24 percent to $2.97 billion. But BP’s shares gained 1.8 percent in premarket trading after the company said it favored returning money to shareholders via dividends, rather than share buybacks.

The parent of the New York Stock Exchange, trans-Atlantic NYSE-Euronext , said its profit rose to $156 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with net income of $45 million, or 29 cents per share in the year-ago period — before the merger with Euronext.

Whirlpool shares jumped after the appliance maker reported a 72 percent surge in its fourth-quarter profit, helped by its Maytag acquisition and the weak dollar. The company said that all of its branded products gained market share during the quarter.

Avon also advanced after the cosmetics company reported its profit dropped 30% in the quarter but beat analysts’ estimates.

News Corp. , which closed a $5.6 billion deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones in December, said quarterly profit rose just 1.2 percent to $832 million from $822 million a year earlier, in line with expectations. The company said the economic slowdown is not hurting its business. And, this quarter is on track for the media giant, which said it received $250 million in ad revenue for the Super Bowl, its best ever.

On Tuesday, News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch said he won’t make a bid for Yahoo.

Politics will take center stage on this Super Tuesday, as more than 20 states hold primaries for the presidential election.

Recession Fears Rattle Market

Stocks tumbled Tuesday after an unexpectedly sharp contraction in the U.S. services sector and comments from one Federal Reserve official that the economy could slip into a “mild recession.”

Richmond Fed Bank President Jeffrey Lacker said he sees “thepossibility of a mild recession, similar to the last two we have experienced — in other words, shallow and with a short recovery.” Lacker said further rate cuts may be necessary, but aren’t a sure thing.

Within the first five minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 150 points and just kept going. In intraday trading, the Dow was off more than 12 percent from the closing high of 14164.53 set on Oct. 9. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq also declined.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that itsnonmanufacturing index, which measures the performance of the U.S. services sector, plunged to 41.9 from 54.4 in December. Economists had expected a more modest drop to 53. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. This was the lowest reading since October 2001, when the Sept. 11 attacks caused the U.S. to slip into a mild recession.

The services sector represents about 80 percent of U.S. economic activity, including businesses such as banks, airlines, hotels and restaurants. The ISM report underscored concerns that the fallout from the housing-sector slump is spreading to the broader economy.

“Nonmanufacturing has been the strength of the economy,” Vince Farrell, managing director of Scotsman Capital, said on CNBC Tuesday, “and now you bring that under question.” He pointed out that it’s only one month, so it’s not a complete disaster, but it is a concern because the service sector has been the strength of the job market.

The market was, for sure, rattled by the Fed’s use of the “R” word. Still, analysts are split over whether we’re in a recession, heading toward a recession or avoiding a recession altogether.

“The recession has indeed arrived,” Jane Caron, chief economic strategist at Dwight Asset Management in Burlington, Vermont, told Reuters.

“I’m still in the minority … I don’t think we’re going to have a recession,” said Matthew Tuttle, president of Tuttle Wealth Management. “I’m just seeing too much … strengthening of emerging markets.”

“I have a lot of faith in the economy,” Tuttle said.

European shares continued to slide for a second day after a report that service-sector growth in the euro zone fell to a four-and-a-half-year low in January, fueling concerns that the U.S. slowdown may be spilling over into Europe.

Spain in particular took a hit, recording the its slowest ever rate of growth in the service sector. “The sky is tumbling in on the Spanish services sector,” Bear Stearns analysts wrote in a note.

Asian stocks also extended their losing streak amid global-recession fears.

Another Downgrade for Financials

Goldman Sachs shares slipped after Oppenheimer downgraded its rating on the stock to “perform” from “outperform,” citing valuation and other factors.

Downgrades on credit-card providers such as American Express and a slew of other financials dragged down the market a day earlier. Analysts are growing increasingly concerned that consumers are falling behind on their loan payments.

Technology stocks, which are seen as particularly vulnerable to a downturn in business and consumer spending, were mostly lower Tuesday.

Apple fared better than some of its tech counterparts after the company introduced new models iPods and iPhones with double the memory of previous versions.

Google advanced amid rumors that Yahoo might outsource its search function to Google and an announcement that Google is adding more business email security and storage products. The products build on technology acquired when Google bought email specialist Postini last year for $625 million, AP reported. The products are designed to weed out junk mail and viruses and prevent security breaches.

Some of the Google gain could be bargain hunting; the Internet giant is down 33 percent from its closing high of $741.79 on Nov. 6. For those of you keeping score, the stock is still up nearly 500% from its IPO price of $85.

Bespoke Investment Group noted on its blog (http://bespokeinvest.typepad.com/) that Google stock looks similar to Microsoft did when it was at the same stage in its corporate lifespan. After 871 trading days, Microsoft was up 458 percent; Internet giants Amazon and eBay were up nearly 1800 percent and Yahoo was up nearly 8,000 percent, the analysts noted.

“Twenty years from now, Google can only hope that it is up 43,000 percent from its IPO price like Microsoft currently is,” Bespoke said.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft said it sent a major package of upgrades and fixes for Windows Vista to manufacturers for mass production on Monday.

Analysts Raise Price Target on Yahoo

Yahoo shares were flat after Banc of America cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy” and raised its price target to $31 from $26. UBS and Citigroup also raised their targets on the stock, to $34 and $31, respectively.

Shares of business-software maker Oracledeclined as did blue chips Microsoft and Intel. Telecom-service providers AT&T and Verizon were among the biggest drags on the Dow.

In earnings news, oil giant BP reported that fourth-quarter replacement cost (RC), which strips out unrealized gains on fuel inventories, fell 24 percent to $2.97 billion. But BP’s shares gained 1.8 percent in premarket trading after the company said it favored returning money to shareholders via dividends, rather than share buybacks.

The parent of the New York Stock Exchange, trans-Atlantic NYSE-Euronext , said its profit rose to $156 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with net income of $45 million, or 29 cents per share in the year-ago period — before the merger with Euronext.

Whirlpool shares jumped after the appliance maker reported a 72 percent surge in its fourth-quarter profit, helped by its Maytag acquisition and the weak dollar. The company said that all of its branded products gained market share during the quarter.

Avon also advanced after the cosmetics company reported its profit dropped 30% in the quarter but beat analysts’ estimates.

News Corp. , which closed a $5.6 billion deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones in December, said quarterly profit rose just 1.2 percent to $832 million from $822 million a year earlier, in line with expectations. The company said the economic slowdown is not hurting its business. And, this quarter is on track for the media giant, which said it received $250 million in ad revenue for the Super Bowl, its best ever.

On Tuesday, News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch said he won’t make a bid for Yahoo.

Politics will take center stage on this Super Tuesday, as more than 20 states hold primaries for the presidential election.

No Super Tuesday for the Stock Market

It may have been Super Tuesday at the voting booth, but there was nothing super about Tuesday for stocks.

Major U.S. indexes plummeted after the U.S. services sector unexpectedly contracted in January and a Federal Reserve official said there is a possibility of a mild recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 370 points, or 2.9%, its biggest one-day percentage drop in nearly a year. The Nasdaq skidded 73 points, or 3.1%, while the S&P 500 tumbled 44 points, or 3.2%.

Year-to-date, the Dow is down 8.7%, the Nasdaq 13% and the S&P 9%.(For a complete look at today’s selloff, go to By the Numbers.)

The market was rattled by growing signs that the economy may already be in a recession, particularly the ISM nonmanufacturing index, which measures the services sector representing three-quarters of the U.S. economy.

“Nonmanufacturing has been the strength of the economy,” Vince Farrell, managing director of Scotsman Capital, said on CNBC Tuesday, “and now you bring that under question.” Services have been the strength of the job market, Farrell says, so keep a close eye on the next jobs report.

“The recession has indeed arrived,” Jane Caron, chief economic strategist at Dwight Asset Management in Burlington, Vermont, told Reuters.

“European shares continued to slide for a second day after a report that service-sector growth in the euro zone fell to a four-and-a-half-year low in January, fueling concerns that the U.S. slowdown may be spilling over into Europe.

Asian stocks also extended their losing streak amid global-recession fears.

Another Downgrade for Financials

Goldman Sachs shares slipped after Oppenheimer downgraded its rating on the stock to “perform” from “outperform,” citing valuation and other factors.

Downgrades on credit-card providers such as American Express and a slew of other financials dragged down the market a day earlier. Analysts are growing increasingly concerned that consumers are falling behind on their loan payments.

Technology stocks, which are seen as particularly vulnerable to a downturn in business and consumer spending, were mostly lower Tuesday.

Apple fared better than some of its tech counterparts after the company introduced new models iPods and iPhones with double the memory of previous versions.

Google advanced amid rumors that Yahoo might outsource its search function to Google and an announcement that Google is adding more business email security and storage products. The products build on technology acquired when Google bought email specialist Postini last year for $625 million, AP reported. The products are designed to weed out junk mail and viruses and prevent security breaches.

Some of the Google gain could be bargain hunting; the Internet giant is down 33 percent from its closing high of $741.79 on Nov. 6. For those of you keeping score, the stock is still up nearly 500% from its IPO price of $85.

Bespoke Investment Group noted on its blog (http://bespokeinvest.typepad.com/) that Google stock looks similar to Microsoft did when it was at the same stage in its corporate lifespan. After 871 trading days, Microsoft was up 458 percent; Internet giants Amazon and eBay were up nearly 1800 percent and Yahoo was up nearly 8,000 percent, the analysts noted.

“Twenty years from now, Google can only hope that it is up 43,000 percent from its IPO price like Microsoft currently is,” Bespoke said.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft said it sent a major package of upgrades and fixes for Windows Vista to manufacturers for mass production on Monday.

Analysts Raise Price Target on Yahoo

Yahoo shares fell after Banc of America cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy” and raised its price target to $31 from $26. UBS and Citigroup also raised their targets on the stock, to $34 and $31, respectively.

Shares of business-software maker Oracledeclined as did blue chips Microsoft and Intel. Telecom-service providers AT&T and Verizon were among the biggest drags on the Dow.

In earnings news, oil giant BP reported that fourth-quarter replacement cost (RC), which strips out unrealized gains on fuel inventories, fell 24 percent to $2.97 billion. But BP’s shares gained 1.8 percent in premarket trading after the company said it favored returning money to shareholders via dividends, rather than share buybacks.

The parent of the New York Stock Exchange, trans-Atlantic NYSE-Euronext , said its profit rose to $156 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with net income of $45 million, or 29 cents per share in the year-ago period — before the merger with Euronext.

Whirlpool shares jumped after the appliance maker reported a 72 percent surge in its fourth-quarter profit, helped by its Maytag acquisition and the weak dollar. The company said that all of its branded products gained market share during the quarter.

Avon also advanced after the cosmetics company reported its profit dropped 30% in the quarter but beat analysts’ estimates.

News Corp. , which closed a $5.6 billion deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones in December, said quarterly profit rose just 1.2 percent to $832 million from $822 million a year earlier, in line with expectations. The company said the economic slowdown is not hurting its business. And, this quarter is on track for the media giant, which said it received $250 million in ad revenue for the Super Bowl, its best ever.

On Tuesday, News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch said he won’t make a bid for Yahoo.