May 21 - Summary of business headlines: Stocks rally after New York Fed President William Dudley says stimulus will stays in place due to economic uncertainty; retailers post mostly upbeat results; Microsoft debuts xBox One; Jamie Dimon keeps both titles. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Stocks bounce back from Monday's small declines as New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley signals the Fed is not ready to scale back its $85 billion a month stimulus program. Blue chips jump to a record close of 15,387. The S&P 500 inches up ever so slightly to a fresh historic peak, while the Nasdaq climbs as well. There was much to digest on the earnings front, starting with Home Depot. The No. 1 home improvement retailer beat first quarter earnings and revenue forecasts, and boosted full-year sales and profit outlooks as it benefits from the recovery in the housing market. Sales at Best Buy fell nearly 10 percent last quarter and the company expects to boost spending in order to get consumers back in the door. Saks beat revenue forecasts, but the bigger news is a New York Post report that the high-end retailer has hired Goldman Sachs to explore strategic alternatives. On the other end of the spectrum, discount shoppers continue to head to TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Parent company TJX topped earnings expectations and forecast further sales growth in the current quarter. Rough seas continue for Carnival. The cruise ship operator slashing full-year estimates for the second time in less than three months. Deep discounts to offset negative publicity is weighing on the bottom line. Microsoft took the wraps off xBox one - its first upgrade of the video game console in 8 years. No price was announced but you can bet the entertainment hub will be ready in time for the Christmas season. One other corporate story of note - shareholders of JPMorgan Chase agreed not to split the roles of Chairman and CEO. The current head Jamie Dimon hinted he would quit if the roles were split. Wrapping up with Europe - Investors bought stocks but were not enthusiastic ahead of Wednesday's testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.