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Northern Trust CEO sees more mortgage activity

Northern Trust Corp., which caters to wealthy consumers, said it’s beginning to see more demand for mortgages as housing prices firm up.

“The mortgage pipeline is beginning to fill up,” Chief Executive Frederick Waddell told reporters Tuesday after his Chicago-based bank’s annual shareholder meeting. “There’s more interest in housing,” including refinancings. Get the full story »

Dow plunges after S&P slashes outlook on U.S.

U.S. stocks slid on Monday, with the Nasdaq falling 2 percent, after ratings agency Standard & Poor’s cut its long-term outlook on the United States and another step by China to stem growth reignited worries about the global economy. Get the full story »

Slot-maker WMS sees shares fall on 3Q forecast

A machine at the offices of WMS Gaming, located at 3401 N. California in Chicago. (Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune)

Shares of Waukegan-based WMS Industries Inc. fell more than 17 percent Tuesday, a day after the slot-machine maker warned that its third-quarter earnings would miss Wall Street expectations.

After the market’s close Monday, WMS said sluggish demand for its slot machines meant it would likely earn 40 cents to 42 cents a share on revenue of $191 million to $193 million for its fiscal third quarter. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted the company would earn 52 cents a share. Get the full story »

CBOT corn tops wheat for first time in 15 years

Central Illinois farmer Gary Niemeyer, not pictured, unloads harvested corn grain near Auburn, Ill., in this photo from 2008. (AP File Photo/Seth Perlman)

For the first time in 15 years, wheat prices fell below those for corn on Tuesday, opening the door wider for wheat, which is used to make cakes and bread, to become fodder for livestock and poultry.

Soft red winter wheat futures briefly traded below prices for corn at the Chicago Board of Trade, the pinnacle of corn’s climb to record highs this week amid dwindling U.S. supplies. Get the full story »

WMS Industries shares fall 9% on lower Q3

Slot machine maker WMS Industries forecast a weak third quarter that fell short of analysts’ estimates, as demand fell, sending shares down 9 percent after the bell. Get the full story »

Expedia shares gain on TripAdvisor spin-off plan

Shares of Expedia rose 13 percent Friday as analysts hailed the online travel agency’s TripAdvisor separation plan as a way to unlock potential value. Get the full story »

Decline in UAL traffic hits its stock, other airlines’

Airline stocks are declining after United Continental reported that traffic fell at a faster pace in March.

“People are very nervous about pricing due to rising oil prices,” says Wolfe Trahan analyst Hunter Keay. Get the full story »

Shares of Hub Group leap on intermodal deal

Hub Group Inc. acquired privately held Exel Transportation Services for $83 million, in a deal that combines intermodal transportation companies with complementary services. Get the full story »

Facebook exec fired for stock acquisition

Facebook Inc. fired a senior manager for buying shares of the social networking powerhouse in a private, secondary-market transaction last September — four months before Goldman Sachs Group Inc.  announced its investment in Facebook, the Web site TechCrunch reported Friday, citing multiple sources. Get the full story »

Stock gains bolster public pension coffers

Public pension assets rose 5.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 as stock market gains helped pensions continue to recover from the financial crisis, a federal agency reported Thursday. Get the full story »

BlackRock to join S&P 500 index

BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest money manager, will be added to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, S&P said in a release on Tuesday. Get the full story »

BP shares hit after report of oil spill charges

Shares in oil major BP fell on Tuesday on a report that its managers could face manslaughter charges following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which could lead to much higher fines over the disaster. Get the full story »

Nicor CEO to receive $850,000 in restricted stock

From Crain’s Chicago Business | Naperville-based natural gas utility Nicor Inc. has granted CEO Russ Strobel 16,020 shares of restricted stock per a long-term incentive plan, but Mr. Strobel will be able to cash them within months. The shares will be convertible to cash immediately when Nicor’s $2.4-billion sale to AGL Resources Inc. closes later this year.

Marriott guidance drags down Hyatt, others

Marriott ($35.76, down 5.05 percent) said it has had robust demand internationally, but North American growth has been lower than expected during the first quarter.

The company expects first-quarter worldwide systemwide revenue per available room a key industry metric to increase 7 percent, at the low end of its 7 to 9 percent guidance. Get the full story »

EBay to buy GSI in $2.4 billion deal

EBay plans to buy e-commerce company GSI Commerce for $1.96 billion in cash in a bid to draw more buyers and sellers to its online marketplaces and win more business from large store chains. Get the full story »