Updated from 5:34 p.m. EST

H-P Losing More Ground

(At 6:32 p.m. EST)

Just when I thought I was done for the night. I have to quickly add this, because it might be more of a negative Thursday than I originally thought. The situation with

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

has continued to deteriorate, and the stock is now down 6.3% in the extended session to $31.92.

As for other technology components of the

Dow

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, are also trading lower. IBM was the weakest, giving back 1.7%.

Back Where We Started

(At 5 p.m. EST)

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

finished Wednesday essentially where it started, tacking on 3.03 points to go out at 7555.63. After the nearly

300-point selloff

last time, let's not complain too much.

When the closing bell rang, 12 stocks had gains and 18 were lower.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

was again the leader, up 3.7% to $50. Volume was strong, too, at nearly twice the daily average for the world's largest retail chain.

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

followed with a 1.7% advance.

The worst stocks were laggards we've seen before.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

was down 6.7%,

GM

(GM) - Get Report

was off 5.5%, and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

was weaker by 4.9%.

While it was just a slight gain, the move higher did end a string of three straight losses for the Dow. After the close though, one its components came out with disappointing news that sent its shares lower. The company in question was

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

.

The tech giant had fiscal first-quarter adjusted earnings of 93 cents a share, matching the consensus estimate, but revenue of $28.8 billion was some $3 billion short of expectations. For the second quarter, H-P predicted earnings, before items, of 84 cents to 86 cents a share, whereas analysts are calling for 89 cents. The full-year profit should be $3.76 to $3.88, the company said, which compares favorably to the $3.77 Wall Street target.

However, as was the case with the first quarter, H-P's top line projections look to be light. Shares were down 3.6% in late trading to $32.85, following a 0.8% decrease in the regular session. Won't be a surprise then if H-P's a bit of a drag on the Dow Thursday.

Updated from 11:06 a.m. EST

Hovering Near the Unchanged Mark

(At 12:50 p.m. EST)

The

Dow

has improved at midsession and is now right at the flat line. Of the 30 stocks, 13 are up and 17 are down.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

were the best performers, adding about 2.5% each.

GM

(GM) - Get Report

,

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

were the worst components, losing more than 3%.

Watchers of Warren Buffett know that among his holdings are several Dow stocks, including

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

,

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

,

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

,

Kraft

(KFT)

and

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

. We wrote a short item about

Buffett's holdings

a day ago.

I'm all about getting you to read everything on the site, so please click the above link. After you do that, I would strongly encourage you to check out two more articles, Jim Cramer's piece called

The Oracle Sells America

and from Doug Kass an item titled

Questions for the Oracle of Omaha

. Great stuff on the Nebraska-based billionaire.

While I'm in site-promotion mode, also take a look at this story on

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

. Gary Krakow, who's in Barcelona covering the

Mobile World Congress

, says 4G cell-phone service for the U.S. might turn into reality in the not-too-distant future.

I guess I don't want to be a complete homer, so I'll point you to an interesting article on

Seeking Alpha

about some things

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

might think about doing with its stash of cash.

Elsewhere, we had some news on

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

, as a report emerged that the company would open around

500 stores in China

in three years. Just a few days ago,

Xinhua

said the burger seller is planning 175 new restaurants in China in 2009.

Now here's an item that might make shareholders of

GE

(GE) - Get Report

feel just a little bit better. CEO

Jeff Immelt

declined his bonus for last year, with the drop in the stock price factoring heavily into the decision. So far this year, the stock has fallen by about one-third following a rough 2008.

Over at P&G though, chief A.G. Lafley got a nice additional payment -- a $3.5 million equity award for his steering of the Gillette acquisition.

Job Creation?

(At 10:27 a.m. EST)

About an hour into the trading session Wednesday, the

Dow

was slightly lower, down 41 points at 7511. That put the index under the Nov. 20 level that marked its lowest point in more than five years.

Only five of the 30 components were higher, and one of those was

GM

(GM) - Get Report

, up 1% at $2.20. Since GM was the worst

percentage decliner

on Tuesday, the stability was good to see. Still, we're talking about a stock that's some 90% below its 52-week high, so it's hard to get too excited.

We know now that GM could need around

$30 billion

, give or take, in aid from the government. Fine, if we want to save the carmakers, save the carmakers. What's lousy is that in order to prove it will remain viable, GM has to keep lowering costs, and part of that means cutting jobs.

GM says it will eliminate another 47,000 employees around the world, about one-fifth of its total workforce, including roughly 19,000 in the U.S. I thought we were trying to preserve and create jobs here. Wasn't that one of President Obama's key promises during the campaign? Instead we're getting what to me amounts to GM telling the government, "We'll put a few more thousand people on the street if you'll send several billion our way."

Of course the thinking is that if GM is allowed to vanish, the job losses would be much worse. According to some estimates north of 1 million workers out there are directly and indirectly tied to the company. Maybe there's no choice, but it sure is a shame if it has to happen this way.

Ted Reed noted in his coverage of the GM plan that CEO Richard Wagoner believes President Obama will be receptive to the carmaker's proposals. Why's that exactly? "The role the auto industry plays, it's a powerful job creator," Wagoner said.

Used to be anyway. Let's hope it can be again.