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Wednesday Evening Business Brief

October 3, 2012, 5:16 PM

Wednesday Evening Business Brief
  • Stocks have closed higher, but the gains were meager on Wall Street today. Upbeat reports on private sector hiring and the service industry were offset by a sharp drop in oil prices, which sent energy stocks down and a gloomy outlook from Hewlett-Packard's CEO. The Dow rose 12 points to end at 13,495. The S&P 500 gained five to 1,451 and the Nasdaq added 15 to 3,135.
  • Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman says the technology company's earnings are likely to fall during the next year as she struggles to fix a wide range of problems in a weakening economy. A year after being named CEO, Whitman says she inherited a bloated company that hasn't been innovating quickly enough. She says it might be 2015 before HP's revenue growth starts to accelerate again. HP shares lost 13 percent.
  • An unusual spike in the price of Kraft Foods shares has prompted the Nasdaq and other exchanges to cancel some trades. Kraft opened at $45.55 this morning, then quickly surged to $58.54. The Nasdaq says it is looking into "potentially erroneous transactions" and canceling all trades above $47.82 that happened during a one-minute window at 9:30 a.m.  There have been several high-profile trading glitches recently, as more traders and big investment firms use powerful computers to execute trades in fractions of a second.
  • Federal regulators have charged 14 firms and 17 people in scams involving tech-support for computers. The Federal Trade Commission says telemarketers claiming to work for companies such as Microsoft and Dell would tell consumers they had detected a virus or malware, then offer to fix the problems remotely for as much as $450. The FTC says the schemes mostly operated from India and targeted English-speaking consumers in the U.S., Britain and other countries.
  • The Labor Department says unemployment fell in 329 cities in August. That's nearly 90 percent of large U.S. metro areas. But the decline was largely a result of people dropping out of the job market. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively looking for work. The urban trend closely matched broader, national figures.

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