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Stock Futures Mixed as HP Shares Plunge

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were little changed Tuesday after the previous session's big rally, as investors digested some downcast news revealed in Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) latest quarterly results.

Hewlett-Packard shares were plummeting by more than 11.5% in premarket trading Tuesday after the PC-giant beat Wall Street's earnings estimates in its fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, but missed analysts' top-line forecasts.

The company's purchase of U.K. software maker Autonomy last year has been thrust into the spotlight, as HP recorded a non-cash charge of around $8.8 billion related to the deal.

Investors were also digesting a Moody's downgrade of French debt by a notch, as the rating agency spoke of "multiple structural challenges" facing Europe's second-largest economy including the "gradual, sustained loss of competitiveness," as the predictability of the country's resilience to future euro area shocks diminishes.

The downgrade follows Standard & Poor's removal of the country's AAA rating months earlier.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 11 points, or 31.96 points below fair value, at 12,727. Futures for the S&P 500 were up less than a point, or 1.19 points below fair value, at 1383. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 5.25 points, or 3.18 points below fair value, at 2590.

The major U.S. stock averages soared Monday as better-than-expected housing market data gave extra mileage to a rally fueled by optimism over budget talks in Washington.

"After the string of losses during the past couple weeks, [yesterday's] rally was long overdue," said Joe Bell, senior equity analyst, Schaeffer's Investment Research. "Historically, the week of Thanksgiving has been strong and a continuation of [Mondays] momentum wouldn't surprise me. We are seeing extremes in some of the sentiment data we track, making the potential upside outweigh the potential downside. When you throw in the fact that December has historically been a strong month, we think the there is good potential for higher price action through the end of 2012."

The Census Bureau said Tuesday that housing starts rose to an 894,000 annual rate in October from a downwardly revised 863,000 in September. It also reported that building permits fell to an annual rate of 866,000 in October from a downwardly revised 890,000 in September.

On average, economists were expecting housing starts of 840,000 and building permits of 865,000 for last month.

At 12:15 p.m. EST, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks to the Economic Club of New York, followed by 20 minutes of questions and answers.

The FTSE 100 in London was down 0.12%, while the DAX in Germany was up 0.23%. Eurozone finance ministers were meeting in Brussels Tuesday to discuss the release of the next tranche of financial aid to Greece.

Japan's Nikkei average settled down 0.12% on Tuesday and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down 0.16%.

Gold for December delivery was up 30 cents at $1,734.70 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts were down 20 cents at $89.08.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 5/32, boosting the yield to 1.632%. The dollar was down 0.02%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, Best Buy (BBY) posted a third-quarter loss amid persistent sales weakness and charges tied to its restructuring plans.

Excluding special items, earnings per share came in at 3 cents, falling short of the average analyst estimate of 13 cents a share.

Revenue declined 4% to $10.75 billion, as expected.

The talk of a potential buyout by Best Buy founder Richard Schulze hasn't translated to any appreciation in the stock, which is down more than 40% so far this year, hitting a 52-week low of $13.52 on Friday.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) named on Monday Marianne Lake as its next chief financial officer, succeeding Doug Braunstein, who is becoming the bank's vice chairman.

Lake, currently the financial chief of the company's consumer and community banking business, is expected to transition into the CFO role during the first quarter of 2013.

Campbell Soup (CPB) posted better-than-expected first-quarter earnings of 88 cents a share, compared with the average analyst estimate of 85 cents a share, as the company generated sales growth both in its U.S. soup and sauces businesses, driven by new product introductions.

Revenue came in at $2.34 billion; analysts were expecting sales of $2.36 billion.

Sales at Campbell's condensed soups business decreased 1% in the quarter.

Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz (HNZ) booked better-than-predicted fiscal second-quarter earnings as the company spoke of "dynamic growth" in the emerging markets and a favorable tax rate.

Earnings per share came in at 90 cents; analysts, on average, forecast earnings of 88 cents a share.

Sales grew 0.5% to $2.83 billion, despite a negative 2.4% foreign currency exchange impact; Wall Street had expected revenue of $2.85 billion.

Credit Suisse (CS) said Tuesday it was overhauling its investment banking division and merging its private banking and wealth management arms to cut costs and satisfy regulators.

It was disclosed Monday that hedge fund Tiger Global Management had purchased a stake of 65 million class A shares in Groupon (GRPN), which represents 9.9% of the daily deal company's outstanding class A stock.

Urban Outfitters (URBN) on Monday reported an increase in third-quarter earnings but fell short of analysts' estimates by a penny.

Sales rose to $693 million from $610 million a year earlier.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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