Aug 22 - Summary of business headlines: A king-size loss for HP, the world's largest PC maker; CBO ''fiscal cliff'' warning; Toll Brothers orders jump; home resales strong. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Hewlett-Packard reported a huge loss of $8.85 billion, taking a multi-billion dollar write-down on the purchase of EDS. The world's largest PC maker's earnings and revenue fell slightly less than Wall Street expected. And CEO Meg Whitman said the company is making progress in a turnaround that will take years. U.S. stocks pared their early session losses to close mixed after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting indicated the central bank was ready to pull the trigger on another round of stimulus - fairly soon - unless the economy improves considerably. More warnings about the looming "fiscal cliff." Congress' Budget Office says the massive spending cuts and tax hikes due next year will cause even worse economic damage than thought - including the possible loss of some two million jobs. Toll Brothers stock jumped to its highest level since February of 2007. The largest U.S. luxury homebuilder reported higher quarterly earnings and a sharp jump in new orders. Also bullish news for housing: existing home sales rose in July. Low interest rates and a modest improvement in the labor market are helping lift the sector. It's no surprise to see strength in both resales of homes and home developers says Michael Simonsen, CEO of Altos Research: SOUNDBITE: MICHAEL SIMONSEN, CEO, ALTOS RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The biggest theme this year is that because supply is constrained on the existing home side that a lot of that demand is shifting to well positioned home builders so new construction is taking some of that demand and some of the demand is simply driving pricing on the existing side. " Williams Sonoma stock jumping 11 percent. The upscale cookware and home goods retailer, which also owns pottery barn and West Elm, reported better than expected earnings. It also raised its full-year profit outlook for the second time this year. Taking a look at the closing numbers: In the U.S., a 30-point loss on the Dow with the other major indexes posting modest gains. And in Europe shares slipped from 13-month highs. The major country indexes all closing lower. Bobbi Rebell, Reuters.