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Overnight Markets: Hewlett-Packard boosts Dow Jones

Stocks opened lower on Wednesday but recovered at midday, led by consumer staples.

Overnight Markets: Hewlett-Packard boosts Dow Jones

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced further on Wednesday after a surge in Hewlett- Packard Co. helped the bourse recover from earlier losses.

It gained seven points, or 0.05%, to 13,176 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up just 0.87 of a point to finish at 1,402. But the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped five points, or 0.15%, to end at 3,011.

Shares gained recently amid expectations for stimulus from the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve. But investors found little incentive to keep pushing stocks higher after driving the market to three-month highs.

The Bank of England offered little hope of further stimulus even as it sharply slashed its forecast for medium-term economic growth in Britain. France's central bank predicted a contraction in growth going into the third quarter, citing weak demand from the periphery and Britain.

Stocks opened lower yesterday but recovered at midday, led by consumer staples.

Hewlett-Packard rallied 2.4%, the most in the Dow, after it said that its profit excluding some items in the current period will be $1, up from a prior projection of 94 cents to 97 cents.

Shares of Dean Foods, which is spinning off a unit, jumped 40.6% a day after posting a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

Macy’s Inc. rose 2.7% after it reported second- quarter profit that beat estimates, helped by its credit cards. Walt Disney Co. gained 1.4% as it posted better than expected third-quarter profit.

The consumer discretionary sector was the day's weakest as fashion juggernaut Ralph Lauren and travel websites Priceline and Orbitz both forecast slowing demand due to the global slowdown. Ralph Lauren shares fell 1.1%. Orbitz sank 25.5% and Priceline plummeted 17.3%.

McDonald's Corp fell 1.7% after reporting flat same-store sales in July. Williams Partners fell 4.2% after the energy infrastructure company announced the offering of 8.5 million common units.

In Asia, equities gained on Thursday after reports showed China’s consumer prices gained at a slower pace for a fourth month and Australian employment surpassed predictions in July ahead of a Bank of Japan decision today.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.5% to 121 as of 10:57 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.7% even after the country’s machinery orders rebounded less than forecast. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.4% after the nation added 14,000 jobs in July last month, exceeding the 10,000 median estimate by economists.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.9%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.2%. South Korea’s Kospi Index advanced 1.4% after the nation left its key interest rate unchanged.

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Aviva stands firm on prefs threat as anger mounts

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