Stocks managed to climb well off the lows to close slightly in the red. The Dow opened down triple-digits following a 7.3% plunge on Japan's Nikkei 225 (^N225). The Tokyo exchange suffered its biggest loss since the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster more than two years ago. The drop there was precipitated by disappointing economic news out of China and remarks yesterday from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. On the economic front, weekly jobless claims have dropped again. The Labor Department says there were 340,000 new claims filed last week, down from a revised figure of 363,000 in the prior week. Meanwhile, new home sales rose 2.3% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000. That's the second fastest pace in nearly five years.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) rose more than 17% on the heels of its quarterly report released after yesterday's closing bell. The company posted earnings of 87-cents excluding items. That's down from a year ago, but it beat estimates by 6-cents. Revenue missed by half-billion dollars, so the beat on the bottom line was basically achieved by cost-cutting. The company has also upped its full-year outlook citing strength in enterprise services and printing. HP has been the top performer in the Dow this year.
Dollar Tree (DLTR) closed 4% higher on its earnings which came out this morning. The company posted profits of 59-cents a share compared with estimates of 57-cents. Revenues matched the consensus which were for $1.87 billion. That's a new record for the company and an increase of 8% from a year ago. Gross margins also moved higher. Shares of Dollar Tree are up 21% so far this year, slightly outperforming the market. The company is also increasing its outlook.
Teen apparel chain Rue21 (RUE) rose a whopping 23% on the announcement of a planned takeover. The company has agreed to be bought by private equity firm Apax Partners. The deal is for $42 a share which is essentially the price to which shares climbed. Rue21 operates more than 900 shops. The deal has been approved by the company's board. There will be a 40-day window for counteroffers.
Shares of Mannkind (MNKD) climbed another 9% today following a climb of 16% yesterday. The two-day ascent comes amid reports that the biopharmaceutical company is ripe for a takeover. MannKind’s inhaled insulin drug Afrezza is currently in Phase 3 trials which should be wrapped up by the end of next month. The company said it believes the product could be an advancement in fighting diabetes. Also noted: the company's founder and largest shareholder is now 87-years-old.