Stocks End Lower, HP 2Q Profit Down 32%

U. S. stocks ended a choppy Wednesday session sharply lower after minutes from the latest U.S. Federal Reserve meeting showed some officials were open to tapering large-scale asset purchases as early as at the June meeting. After rising as much as 154.8 points, the Dow was down 80.41 points, or 0.52%, to 15,307.17 at the close. The S&P 500 was off 13.81 points, or 0.83%, to 1,655.35. The Nasdaq Composite shed 38.82, or 1.11%, to 3,463.30.

The Fed Chairman told a Congressional committee there is no immediate plan to taper massive efforts at quantitative easing. He said it’s possible the program will be scaled back in the next few meetings, but that there would need to be an improvement first in key economic data.

Hewlett-Packard Co’s quarterly profit slid 32 percent but it raised the lower end of its full-year outlook after earnings per share beat forecasts. Net income fell to $1.08 billion, or 55 cents a share, from $1.59 billion, or 80 cents a share, a year earlier.The company now expects full-year non-GAAP earnings per share of $3.50 to $3.60. It raised the lower end by 10 cents.

J.C. Penney says it has secured a $2.25 billion loan, $500 million more than it had expected. The Plano, Texas-based retailer has been burning through cash and struggling to win back customers.

ESPN started laying off a few hundred workers Tuesday, a sign that the hugely profitable sports cable-TV powerhouse is responding to the higher prices it is paying for rights to air games as well as other industry changes.

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