Dow Slips in Rocky Trading

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The blue chips closed in the red, but well off session lows, after Hewlett-Packard's guidance cut and downbeat housing data took a toll on Wall Street's sentiment.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 68.8 points, or 0.55%, to 12,480, the S&P 500 fell 0.49 point, or 0.04%, to 1,329 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.9 point, or 0.03%, to 2,783. The FOX 50 gained 2.1 points to 933.

Trading was particularly tumultuous, with the blue chips shedding more than 140 points during the early afternoon before recovering to some extent.

The market "just switches on a dime," Theodore Weisberg, founder of Seaport Securities and a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange, told FOX Business.

Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ) revealed profits $1.24 a share, excluding one time costs, on $31.63 billion in revenue.  Analysts projected the technology company would earn $1.23 a share on $31.78 billion in revenue.

The largest U.S. technology company by revenue also cuts its guidance full year guidance due to the aftershock of the earthquake that hit Japan and weak P.C. sales.  Shares were slammed, hitting a 52-week low, as a result.

On the economic front, the number of new housing starts plunged 10.6% to an annualized rate of 523,000 in April.  Permits to start new housing fell 4% to an annualized rate of 551,000. An upward revision in March exacerbated the downtrend.

The South of the U.S. was hit the hardest, with starts diving 23% and permits falling 5.7%.

A slowdown in activity in the mortgage market caused by the financial crisis, coupled with a high supply of new houses, has hit the new home market hard.

"A weak housing market remains the Achilles’ heel of the economic expansion," wrote economists at Deutsche Bank in a research note.

Euro zone officials acknowledged the idea that Greece might have to restructure its debt as it struggles to pay back nearly half a trillion dollar public debt load.

Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the euro group, said he wouldn't necessarily oppose a so-called "soft restructuring" of Greek debt, but was strongly against a "major restructuring."

A soft restructuring would most likely involve extending the length of time Greece has to pay back loans, as opposed to a major restructuring, which often involves debt holders taking a large haircut.  Any type of restructuring is likely to send shockwaves across the euro zone and likely to credit markets abroad.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is probing several major financial institutions such as Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) over mortgage securitization practices, according to several media report.

Commodity markets largely ended in negative territory, but got a boost from late-day weakness in the dollar.

The euro gained 0.41% against the U.S. dollar and the greenback was fell 0.23% against a basket of world currencies.

Light, sweet crude lost 46 cents, or 0.47%, to $96.91 a barrel -- the lowest settle since February.

Wholesale RBOB gasoline was down a penny, or 0.4%, to $2.91 a gallon.

Consumer gas prices are moderating to some extent.  A gallon of regular gas cost $3.94 on average nationwide, up from $3.83 last month and $2.87 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge report.

In metals, gold was lower by $10.60, or 0.71%, to $1,480 a troy ounce.  Silver was down 64 cents, or 0.71%, to $33.49 a troy ounce.

Corporate News

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) unveiled quarterly profits of $3.4 billion, or 98 cents a share on revenues of $103.42 billion.  Wall Street forecast the world's largest retailer to earn 95 cents on $102.93 billion. The company struggled in the U.S. this quarter, but got a boost from sales around the world.

LinkedIn's initial public offering price was boosted 30% to $4 billion, or $42 to $45 a share.

Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) plans on contracting rigs from Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO) in a deal that could be worth $1.8 billion.

Saks (NYSE:SKS) posted quarterly profits of 17 cents a share, excluding one-time costs, on $726 million in revenue, slightly better than the 16 cents analysts forecast.

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 was down 1.1% to 5,861, the French CAC 40 was off 1.2% to 3,942 and the German DAX dropped 1.8% to 7,257.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 inched 0.09% higher and the Chinese Hang Seng was down 0.26% to 22,901.

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