U.S. stocks edged higher at the opening bell Wednesday and gained some momentum as the day wore on to finish broadly higher despite some gloomy corporate news.
Struggling technology bellwether Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) sank nearly 13% as CEO Meg Whitman asked for patience while the company sorts out a strategy, suggesting the company might need between three and four years to turn around its fortunes.
Meanwhile, shares of agribusiness giant Monsanto (NYSE:MON) lost more than 2% after reporting a worse-than-expected quarterly loss. Monsanto lost twice as much money this year in its fourth quarter as it did last year, and both revenues and future forecasts were down as well.
Helping cheer investors was a report from ADP (NYSE:ADP) that showed a gain of 162,000 private sector jobs in September — a hopeful prelude to a monthly jobs data report due out Friday.
For the day, the Nasdaq finished up 0.49% at 3,135.23, the S&P rose 0.36% to 1,450.99 and the Dow managed to ease up fractionally to 13,494.61.
Electronics and computer retailer Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) gained nearly 5% on reports that founder Richard Schultze and at least four private equity firms have started examining Best Buy’s books in advance of a potential $11 billion buyout offer.
Shares of discount retailer Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) gained just under 4% after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings and sales that were in line with forecasts, and said it planned to open 500 stores next year. However, Family Dollar did lower guidance for the first quarter.
Shares of MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) fell 4% after it announced plans to merge with Deutsche Telekom’s (PINK:DTEGY) T-Mobile USA. A combined entity still would rank fourth in the mobile phone space, and investors in Sprint (NYSE:S) showed no concerns over the merger as the stock finished up 6% on the day, extending an impressive 122% year-to-date rally. The same could not be said for Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), which sank almost 18% on the news as it is apparently not in anyone’s plans at the moment.
Finally, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares managed a bit of a rally, ending up 1.6% on the day after the Wall Street Journal reported mass production had begun in Asia on a mini iPad.
- US Airways (NYSE:LCC): Up 8.3% (90 cents) to $11.78.
- Lennar (NYSE:LEN): Up 6.9% ($2.42) to $37.41.
- Monster Worldwide (NYSE:MWW): up 6.6% (49 cents) to $7.87.
- Fifth & Pacific (NYSE:FNP): Down 5.1% (58 cents) to $10.74.
- Dell (NASDAQ:DELL): Down 4.8% (47 cents) to $9.43.
- Amarin (NASDAQ:AMRN): Down 4.4% (54 cents) to $11.81.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long AAPL.