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MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia - 21/11/2012

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The major U.S. indexes closed pretty much where they started overnight, after choppy trade caused by renewed Europe concerns, comments by Bernanke on the fiscal cliff uncertainty, and a huge 11% sell-off in Hewlett-Packard following some accounting problems.
(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Trade was choppy overnight on the U.S. equity markets, but a rally in the last couple of hours erased earlier losses allowing the major indexes to close little changed.

By the close the Dow had eased seven points to 12,789, while the NASDAQ gained one point to 2917.


Chairman Ben Bernanke urged lawmakers to make a deal and end fiscal cliff uncertainty. In a speech Tuesday afternoon in New York, Bernanke said Washington needs to resolve the uncertainty over U.S. tax and spending policy weighing on consumers, businesses and markets.

While the rhetoric out of Washington has been mostly positive, experts say stocks will remain under pressure and trading will likely be choppy until an actual deal is finalized, which could take weeks.


European finance ministers are again preparing to meet to discuss the Greek bailout. Adding to the European woes a day earlier Moody's downgraded France's credit rating - which again reminds investors about the debt crisis facing the region.

U.S. Economic News

On the economic front, housing starts for October rose 3.6% to an annual pace of 894,000. This follows a giant 15.1% revised surge in September and a 3.0% gain in August.

October's gain was centered in the West and Midwest with the South posting a small decline and the Northeast, which was hit by Hurricane Sandy at the end of the month, posting a sizable decline.

Still, housing starts rose to the highest in more than four years last month, compared to the decline expected by analysts due in part to Sandy.

U.S. Corporate News

In corporate news, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) stock was down after the company took a huge write-down on its UK acquisition of Autonomy and accused previous management of fraudulent accounting and a "wilful effort" to mislead investors and potential buyers.

HP took a US8.8bn charge related to software group Autonomy in its latest quarterly figures, which tipped it into a loss of US6.9bn. HP said the accounting problems occurred prior to its acquisition of Autonomy.

Despite fourth quarter adjusted earnings coming in above Street expectations, fourth-quarter sales fell short of estimates as its share of the PC market shrank and sales of its printers declined.

Green Mountain Coffee (NASDAQ:GMCR) shares surged after the company announced the appointment of a new CEO, Brian Kelley, effective December 3.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) stock declined as it reported weaker-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings and its ninth same-store sales decline in 10 quarters. Last month, the retailer had warned that earnings and same-store sales would show declines for its third quarter.

In the foods sector, Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE:CPB) said fiscal first-quarter earnings fell due to a recent acquisition and restructuring efforts, but stood by its guidance for the full-year 2013 as H.J. Heinz Co. (NYSE:HNZ) posted a 22.3% increase in second-quarter earnings, helped by growth in emerging markets, improved margins and a favorable tax rate.

Spam maker Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL) reported higher fourth-quarter earnings as losses in the company's hog operations were offset by profit gains in other parts of the business.


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