Markets

The stock market hasn't gotten its legs back yet.

Early gains from softer-than-expected core

retail sales

figures (see below) evaporated late in the session, and stocks closed mixed to lower in fairly even breadth.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

added 1.59 to 10,789.39; the

Nasdaq Composite Index

shed 15.45 to 2549.53; the

S&P 500

fell 3.77 to 1298.16; the small-cap

Russell 2000

added 0.63 to 428.82; and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

picked up 4.16 to 506.52.

The 30-year Treasury bond lost 15/32 to 86 16/32, its yield rising to 6.26%

A Chicago power outage caused the

Chicago Board of Trade

to shut down early, at 2 p.m. EDT. The CBOT said it will resume futures trading tomorrow morning. Trading on the

Chicago Board Options Exchange

was halted for 35 minutes this afternoon, while the

Chicago Mercantile Exchange

was unaffected by the blackout.

The big European indices finished solidly higher, with France's

CAC

, Germany's

Xetra Dax

and London's

FTSE

all gaining more than 2%.

Asian markets surged overnight, as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

picked up 341.95, or 2.8%, to 12,799.75, while Tokyo's

Nikkei

advanced 211.81, or 1.2%, to 17,422.97

More markets news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Markets section.

Companies

Several companies have posted earnings reports today:

  • Clorox (CLX) - Get Report posted fourth-quarter earnings of 96 cents a share, before charges, in line with the 12-analyst First Call estimate and up from the year-ago 91 cents. But the company warned that it would have to take another $23 million in restructuring charges in the current fiscal year, on top of the $79 million fourth-quarter charge it has already taken.
  • Gap (GPS) - Get Report reported second-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 18-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 15 cents a share. TheStreet.com wrote about Gap in a story yesterday.
  • Healtheon (HLTH) posted a second-quarter loss of 25 cents a share, wider than the three-analyst estimate of a loss of 22 cents a share. In the year-ago period, the company reported a loss of 47 cents.
  • Keebler Foods (KBL) reported second-quarter earnings before a charge of 27 cents a share, ahead of the 10-analyst estimate of 24 cents a share and up from the year-ago 22 cents a share.
  • Kmart (KM) reported second-quarter income from continuing operations of 26 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 16-analyst estimate.
  • ShopKo (SKO) posted second-quarter operating earnings of 32 cents a share, a penny ahead of the three-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 27 cents a share, which excludes a charge.

Iridium

(IRID)

yesterday said it has defaulted on more than $1.5 billion in loans, bringing the company one step closer to bankruptcy and posing potential problems for financial backer

Motorola

(MOT)

.

Liberty Mutual

, which owns 70% of

Liberty Financial

(L) - Get Report

, set plans to cut 1,500 jobs, or 4% of its total staff, and to recognize more than $150 million in expenses in response to falling prices in the commercial property and casualty insurance industry.

TV and Web retailer

Shop At Home

(SATH)

said that it has hired an investment bank to help it review its strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of some of its TV stations.

Mutual fund firm

Vanguard

said that it won't alter a company policy mandating that board members retire in December of the year they turn 70. That means sayonara to founder

John C. Bogle

, who turned 70 in May.

TheStreet.com

wrote about the departure

Thursday.

More news on companies and stocks is available in

TSC's

Stock News section.

Tech

Compaq

(CPQ)

unit

AltaVista

said it is now offering free Internet access through an advertising-supported

service that can be downloaded over the Web.

Merrill Lynch's new PC industry analyst,

Steve Fortuna

, is causing quite a stir today, starting coverage of

Gateway

(GTW)

and

Micron Electronics

(MUEI)

with neutral ratings, citing unfavorable industry conditions. Fortuna also maintained Merrill's neutral rating on

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

.

Sony

(SNE) - Get Report

is developing the first plastic disks for computer hard drives, the

Nihon Keizai Shimbun

reported. The paper writes that the cost of making the disks may be 30% to 40% lower than for conventional aluminum disks.

More tech news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Tech Stocks section.

General News

The

Census Bureau

released figures showing

retail sales

increasing at a 0.7% clip in July, much higher than the expected 0.3% and up from the revised 0.2% pace in June. But excluding auto sales, sales increased only 0.3% in July, less than the 0.4% predicted by the

Reuters

poll.

The

Labor Department

released figures showing

initial jobless claims

at 284,000 for the week ended Aug. 7, marginally above expectations and up a tad from the previous week's revised 280,000.

International

Dutch insurance giant

Aegon

(AEG) - Get Report

set plans to buy the

Sun Life & Provincial Holdings'

U.K. life insurance business for about $1.2 billion. Sun Life is 46% owned by French insurer

Axa

(AXA)

.

South Korean

chaebol

Daewoo

said that it may raise as much as $730 million from the sale of its

Daewoo Securities

brokerage. Daewoo is selling the brokerage at the demand of domestic creditors seeking to recover about $57 billion of debt.

More international news and commentary are available in

TSC's

International section.

Elsewhere

In what the German press is billing as the nation's first case of "mobile-phone rage," a businessman was beaten to death over the weekend with a beer bottle after he refused to turn off his cell phone in a Hamburg

biergarten

. "It was really loud and was one of those terrible melodies, too," a witness told police of the phone.