) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Wednesday, May 19, 2010.

Wednesday's Early Headlines

  • Inflation at Consumer Level Cooler Than Expectations in April -- The Commerce Department said its consumer price index fell 0.1% in April, compared to expectations of a 0.1% increase. The core number, which excludes food and energy, was unchanged from a month ago, surprising economists who had expected a 0.1% rise. Later in the session, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its two-day meeting on interest rates in April, which may shed more light on the central bank's inflation expectations.
  • EU Wants Joint Action on Short Selling -- The European Commission wants European governments to jointly act against short-selling of shares and investments, The Associated Press reports. This comes after Germany banned so-called naked short-selling of shares in some German financial institutions and in euro government bonds. EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier says he understands Germany's move to suspend naked short-selling of eurozone government debt and shares of major financial companies, the report said.
  • Toyota to Recall 11,500 Lexus Cars -- Toyota (TM) - Get Report plans to recall 4,500 Lexus vehicles in Japan and another 7,000 overseas could be affected due to a computerized steering problem, according to a report by The Associated Press. The latest issue affects Toyota's luxury Lexus "LS" line, and involves a computerized system that oversees how the steering wheel controls the tires, according to the AP.
  • Purchasing Applications Fall to 13-Year Low Even as Rates Slide -- The Mortgage Bankers Association said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, fell a seasonally adjusted 1.5% last week, as purchasing applications plunged 27.1% from the prior week to the lowest level in 13 years. On the other hand, refinancing applications rose 14.5% compared with the previous week, the survey showed. The data continue to suggest that the tax credit pulled sales into April at the expense of the remainder of the spring buying season, Michael Fratantoni, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics, said in a statement. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to 4.83% last week from 4.96% the previous week, the MBA said.
  • Bank of America Sells Itau Unibanco Stake -- Bank of America (BAC) - Get Report is planning to sell its 5.4% stake in Brazilian lender Itau Unibanco in a move that is expected to generate more than $4 billion in gross proceeds, The Financial Times reports. The sale will involve an offering of Bank of America's 188.5 million preferred shares in Itau Unibanco, expected to take place during the week of May 31, and the sale of 56.5 million shares to the Brazilian bank's controlling shareholder, Itau SA, the report said.
  • Thailand's Stock Exchange Set On Fire -- Thailand's stock exchange was set on fire by anti-government protestors and the stock market closed early as violence continued in the Thai capital. Red Shirt Protestors also burned shopping malls and a television station and an 8 p.m. curfew was instituted even after the protest leaders surrendered earlier in the day, according to various published reports. Troops dispersed anti-government protesters in an offensive that killed at least four people and wounded 50 others, Reuters reports.

Wednesday's Earnings Roundup

  • Target (TGT) - Get Report reported a first-quarter profit of 90 cents a share, above the Thomson Reuters consensus for a profit of 86 cents a share and the company's guidance that earnings would exceed 86 cents a share. Sales ere up 5.5% to $15.2 billion, slightly below the consensus of $15.6 billion.
  • Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) - Get Report said late Tuesday it had a second-quarter profit of $1.09 a share on revenue of $30.8 billion, above the Thomson Reuters average estimate for earnings of $1.05 a share on revenue of $29.8 billion. Looking ahead, H-P upped its full-year view, now expecting earnings of $4.45 to $4.50 a share on revenue of $123.7 billion to $124.9 billion. That compares to Wall Street's full-year target of $4.45 a share on $123 billion in revenue.
  • Deere (DE) - Get Report posted a second-quarter adjusted profit of $1.58 a share on revenue of $7.13 billion, compared with the Thomson Reuters average estimate for earnings of $1.09 a share on revenue of $6.62 billion. Looking ahead, Deere offered better-than-expected revenue guidance for the fiscal third quarter and full year.
  • Chico's FAS (CHS) - Get Report notched a first-quarter profit of 20 cents a share on sales of $481.6 million, compared with the Thomson Reuters average estimate for earnings of 20 cents a share on $473.6 million in sales.
  • Eaton Vance (EV) - Get Report said it had a second-quarter adjusted profit of 36 cents a share, which fell below the Thomson Reuters average estimate of 40 cents a share. Revenue of $273 million was above the consensus target of $271.4 million.
  • BJ's Wholesale (BJ) - Get Report reported earnings of 49 cents a share on revenue of $2.55 billion, compared to Wall Street's forecast for a profit of 43 cents a share on revenue of $2.61 billion. Looking ahead, BJ's raised its full-year earnings guidance to $2.58 to $2.68 a share, in line with the average analyst target of $2.61 a share.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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