Feb 12 - Summary: Wall St snaps best four-day rally in over a year as Procter & Gamble weighs; Cisco tops low expectations; Whole Foods misses and guides lower; Amazon downgraded; Home Depot to hire 80,000. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street tried but failed at attempts to extend the strongest four-day winning streak in over a year to a fifth day. All in all, stocks were little changed with only the Nasdaq edging higher. There won't be a fight over the U.S. debt ceiling at least until 2015. The Democratic-led Senate approved raising the nation's borrowing authority with help from only a few Republicans. The Republican-led House okayed a measure the day before. Cisco highlights after-the-bell earnings. The tech bellwether posting net profits that were better than anticipated. Revenues also exceeded estimates after warning they would be down as much as 10 percent. Meanwhile, sales and profits at Whole Foods coming in below expectations. The higher-end supermarket chain is lowering the top end of its fiscal-year sales forecasts and its profit outlook based on what it is seeing in its stores. Dow component Procter and Gamble was a drag during the regular session. Analysts cut their numbers one-day after the global consumer products company lowered full-year forecasts citing exposure to emerging market currencies. Amazon.com was another weak spot despite saying it will hire 2,500 full-time workers. UBS is worried about future sales and profits, downgrading the stock to "neutral" from "buy" as a result. UBS says it partnered on a survey that shows Amazon Prime members don't like the idea of a possible hike in the annual fee, in exchange for free shipping and other perks. The service has been the source of both higher sales and higher costs for Amazon. Shares of the Internet retail giant, erasing a week's worth of gains. Home Depot has started hiring for the 80,000 positions it plans to fill for the spring season. Spring is traditional the do-it-yourself retailer's most busiest time of the year. Global smartphone shipments crossed the one billion mark for the first time last year, according to IDC. The bulk of that, of course, dominated by Android and Apple iOS phones. Windows devices saw the fastest rate of growth, while BlackBerry plummeted. The smartphone market, however, not expected to keep seeing the heady growth of recent years, the report says, though demand for cheaper models will be the main driver of that slower growth. In Europe, banking stocks led the broader market higher in Germany, France, but barely in the U.K.