May 22 - Summary: Hewlett-Packard posted weaker-than-expected sales and increased the number of planned job cuts to 50,000 at most; Wall Street rallies as home resales offset rise in jobless claims. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Somebody jumped the gun at Hewlett-Packard. The tech company announced in-line profits and softer-than-predicted revenues about an hour before it was supposed to. HP will lay-off more people than it earlier projected, now boosting job cuts to up to 50,000. The stock immediately gave up gains to finish down by more than two percent. As for the rest of Wall Street, stocks edged higher but this was not a day for the record books, with the S&P 500 finishing just shy of a lifetime closing high. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week. But on the bright side, sales of existing homes rose for the second time in nine months. Even more promising, the number of homes up for sale - near a two-year high; a hopeful sign the housing market is headed for better days. For Dan Morris, global investment strategist at TIAA-CREF Asset Management, economic news is a support to the market but expect more volatility ahead. SOUNDITE: DAN MORRIS, GLOBAL INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, TIAA-CREF ASSET MANAGEMENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's a reasonably benign environment for equities but at the same time - not really exciting and it's harder to find a catalyst at this point that's really going to boost the market to accelerate its gains, where as you can probably come up with a couple of reasons why it might go down. So the balance of the surprise is really perhaps on the negative side, hence the volatility." Sales at Best Buy continue to improve, but were still down for the quarter. Profits topped expectations. But Best Buy sells consumer electronics, and without any hot gadgets out there, the retailer expects comparable sales to fall this quarter and next. Investors looked on the bright side and pushed the stock higher by more than three percent. Google is planning to offer low-cost Wi-Fi network hardware and software to small and mid-sized businesses, according to tech blog The Information. Users may have to log on using a Google account, giving Google access to data for things like targeted ads. The service could launch by the summer. JD, China's second largest e-commerce company and the second largest Chinese company to debut on a U.S. exchange, soared in its first day of trade. The stock rallied 10 percent after a bigger jump at the opening. European shares - little changed- as investors get ready for European Parliamentary elections.