Stocks Feeble Despite Solid Retail Data - TheStreet

Stocks Feeble Despite Solid Retail Data

On the Dow, Wal-Mart and Hewlett-Packard were both slipping. Crude oil prices were slightly higher in New York, and Treasury securities were losing ground.
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Updated from 9:47 a.m. EDT

Stocks in the U.S. were weak early Tuesday as investors weighed better-than-expected retail sales data against a cautious outlook at

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

, the world's biggest merchandiser.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

slipped 31 points to 12,845, and the

S&P 500

was off 2 points at 1402. The

Nasdaq Composite

was roughly flat at 2489.

Before the opening bell, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales, excluding cars, swelled by 0.5% in April, compared with the 0.2% economists' consensus. March data were revised upward to 0.4%. Keeping in the effects of declining auto sales, the numbers showed a drop of 0.2%, as expected.

On the other hand, Wal-Mart's current-quarter outlook leaned to the lower end of expectations, even as its first-quarter profit grew by 6.9% to a better-than-expected $3.02 billion, or 76 cents a share. Shares of the Dow component dropped 1.6%.

Meanwhile,

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

confirmed that it will acquire

Electronic Data Systems

(EDS)

. H-P said it will pay $13.9 billion in cash, or $25 a share, nearly a billion higher than the top end of the range cited by news reports yesterday. H-P shares slipped 5.7% as EDS -- which surged in the prior session -- climbed another 1.6% despite at least three analyst downgrades.

Elsewhere in tech,

Research in Motion's

(RIMM)

price target was boosted by both Citigroup and Oppenheimer a day after the company unveiled its new BlackBerry Bold, a possible rival to

Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPhone. Still, RIMM shares were stepping back 1%.

In other research calls, Oppenheimer cut its second-quarter, fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009 earnings estimates on

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

,

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

,

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

and

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

, in part because of expected revenue reversals that will be required by a new accounting treatment. Shares of each were losing at least 0.5%.

Back in earnings,

Liz Claiborne

(LIZ)

shares moved up 2.4% after the clothing designer said adjusted earnings came to 28 cents a share in the first quarter, flying past the dime-a-share average Street target from Thomson Reuters. Including heavy restructuring costs, the company swung to a continuing-operations loss of 16 cents a share.

Also, after the prior close

Sirius Satellite Radio

(SIRI) - Get Report

reported a top line that came in

a hair below estimates

even as its narowed loss matched expectations. Also, in the earnings call, CEO Mel Karmazin voiced frustration in with the time it has taken the Federal Communications Commission to review its proposed merger with

XM Satellite Radio

(XMSR)

.

Sirius shares were off 1.1%; XM, which reported a

widened loss

Monday, was recently flat at $12.30.

Returning to economic data, the Commerce Department said business inventories were up 1% sequentially in March, or 6.3% higher year over year. It should take 1.27 months -- virtually the same as last year -- to work through that inventory based on current sales data.

Also, the Labor Department said import prices, excluding the volatile effects of oil, were up 1.1% in April -- the same as the prior month. Stripping out agricultural products, export prices ticked up 0.6%, or less than half the growth seen in March.

Among commodities, crude oil dipped 7 cents to $124.16 a barrel, and gold futures sank $20 to $864.90 an ounce. The U.S. dollar firmed by 0.6% against the euro at $1.5455, and the greenback added 0.8% against the yen to 104.64.

Treasury prices were sliding. The 10-year note was off 16/32 in price to yield 3.86%, and the 30-year bond shed 21/32 in price, yielding 4.58%.

Foreign markets were mainly higher. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 ramped up 1.5% overnight, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index leaped 2%. As for Europe, Germany's Xetra Dax rose 0.3% and the Paris Cac tacked on 0.5%. London's FTSE 100 gave up 0.2%.