Updated from 9:46 a.m. EST
Stocks on Wall Street were swinging wildly Tuesday morning, after traders received encouraging news from several big technology companies but troubles among the financials and automakers were dampening enthusiasm elsewhere.
After whipping higher only to fall quickly back to the baseline, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was lately gaining 122 points at 8395. The
was adding 10 points to 861. The
was climbing 8.9 points at 1491.
Early futures trading had suggested Tuesday's session could have been a lot worse, but two pieces of news were helping lift technology shares. Computer hardware and software maker
was partly responsible, after the company said its fourth-quarter profit would exceed analysts' expectations. Shares of H-P, part of the Dow, were rising.
Another boost came from
, which said CEO Jerry Yang is set to step down from his position as soon as the Internet firm can find a replacement. Yang's tenure was recently marked by a refusal to sell his company to
. Yahoo! shares were likewise rising.
Financial firms continued to look weak as the new session arrived. Asset manager
joined the set of companies to announce layoffs by announcing its first round of job cuts in its 20-year history, according to a report by
at Deutsche Bank cut their price target on
to $9, which on Monday announced plans to lay off 20% of its work force.
As the financials slim down in an effort to stem damage from the credit crisis,
Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson were testifying before Congress to discuss their $700 billion
Troubled Asset Relief Program
, which was designed to bolster liquidity for banks with stressed balance sheets.
Secretary Paulson said at the event that he does not plan to initiate new programs beyond the TARP to prop up ailing banks. He also said he does not believe that the financial-relief package will wholly fix the economic problems that have emerged as a result of the credit crunch and cautioned against using the package's funds to soothe problems outside the financial sector.
Paulson's refusal to endorse additional relief for the financial system is confusing, said Michael Pento, senior market strategist at Delta Global advisors. "Now that the Democrats are in power, it seems like the Republicans are trying to be backing away from fixing the economy. Perhaps in some insidious way they would like the economy to be weak and blame it on the Democrats -- and I'm a Republican," he said.
Setting Paulson's motivations aside, Pento said that it is reasonable for Paulson to say that the TARP is not a panacea. He said that the government has been devaluing the dollar in an effort to keep asset prices higher. The major averages are caught in a trading range, weighed down by negative economic news but propped up by the government's monetization efforts, which act as an inflationary force. "Overall we're just going to be treading water," he said. "It's a trader's market."
The automakers, also lately on the ropes, were once again on investors' radar, as
was reducing its stake in the Japanese company to 13% from 33%. Ford, along with
, are facing mounting cash-flow problems on declining vehicle sales, credit crunch -related financing troubles and substantial legacy costs.
Looking at the day's
, hardware store operator
announced earnings that fell 31% year over year on declining revenue. Fashion retailer
swung to a third-quarter loss.
In merger news,
Cliffs Natural Resources
announced they had agreed to drop previous plans for a merger valued at about $10 billion.
Shifting to economic data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that producer prices fell by a record 2.8% in October. Economists were expecting a decline of 1.8%. The core rate
increased by 0.4%, above expectations for a 0.1% uptick.
As for commodities, crude oil was losing 5 cents to $54.90 a barrel. Gold was losing $5.80 at $736.20 an ounce.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year note was adding 11/32 to yield 3.61%. The 30-year was up 14/32, yielding 4.17%. The dollar was flat vs. the yen and gaining on the euro and pound.
Overseas, European exchanges such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were mainly trading lower. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed with losses.