Archive for September, 2011

How the major stock indexes fared on Thursday

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Finance News

It was another day of big swings in the stock market.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended with a gain of 143 points Thursday. On its way there, it surged 260 points shortly after the opening bell, then turned mixed for much of the day. A burst of buying in the last half-hour of trading sent the Dow shooting higher again.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 143.08 points, or 1.3 percent, to close at 11,153.98.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9.34 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,160.40.

The Nasdaq composite index lost 10.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,480.76.

For the week to date:

The Dow is up 382.50 points, or 3.6 percent.

The S&P 500 is up 23.97, or 2.1 percent.

The Nasdaq is down 2.47, or 0.1 percent.

For the year to date:

The Dow is down 423.53, or 3.7 percent.

The S&P 500 is down 97.24, or 7.7 percent.

The Nasdaq is down 172.11, or 6.5 percent.

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Oracle-Autonomy battle rages with HP in the wings

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Finance News

LONDON (Reuters) – Oracle and Autonomy escalated their war of words on Thursday, sparring publicly over whether the British software firm had ever been shopped to the U.S. technology giant.

Autonomy, which Hewlett-Packard this year agreed to buy for $12 billion, is at the center of a debate on Wall Street over the tenure of fired HP CEO Leo Apotheker and the future direction of the company he once ran.

The spat comes at an inopportune time for HP, fighting to salvage its reputation with investors.

The acquisition -- which Apotheker spearheaded before his ouster this month -- has alienated Wall Street because of its steep price tag. It remains a sensitive topic, with new CEO Meg Whitman touting it as integral to a software expansion but critics saying it did little for the core business.

Ellison -- an outspoken billionaire CEO who never shies from a fight -- appeared to touch a nerve last week when he told investors during an earnings conference call that Oracle had been pitched a sale during an April meeting but walked away because the company, with a $6 billion market value at the time, was priced "absurdly high."

Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch -- no shrinking violet himself -- denied in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that a pitch had taken place. Oracle then said it could produce power-point slides to show that a pitch had indeed been made. Silicon Valley dealmaker Frank Quattrone -- who has arranged some of the largest technology deals in recent years -- was present, Oracle said in a statement.

But Lynch then again disputed the U.S. software giant's claims, saying a meeting had occurred but a sale had never been discussed, just "database technologies."

"CEO Lynch insists that it was a purely technical meeting," Oracle said late Wednesday. "Interesting, but not true.

SLIDES, FOR SHOW

"We have put Mike Lynch's PowerPoint slide sales-pitch up on the Oracle website -- Oracle.com/PleaseBuyAutonomy -- with the hope Mike Lynch will recognize his slides, his memory will be restored, and he will recall what he and Frank Quattrone discussed during their visit to Oracle last April."

On Thursday, Lynch and Quattrone said those slides were a separate matter.

"The slides Oracle posted publicly were sent by me to Mark Hurd in January, were prepared by Qatalyst and were for the purpose of our independently pitching Autonomy as an idea to Oracle," Quattrone said in a statement. "These slides were not used in our April meeting with Mark and Doug."

Ellison has frequently attacked HP and Apotheker since the board ousted his longtime friend Hurd in August 2010 after a sexual harassment investigation. Hurd was hired to become Oracle's co-President, and both Lynch and Oracle say he was at the April meeting with Quattrone.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by David Hulmes, Gary Hill)

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Election is verdict on Obama economic record: Biden

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. election in November 2012 will be a "referendum" on the Obama administration's handling of the economy, Vice President Joe Biden told a Florida radio station on Thursday.

Biden said he understood Americans are unhappy about high unemployment and the sluggish economy nearly three years after Barack Obama was elected president in the midst of the worst recession since the 1930s.

"Even though 50-some percent of the American people think the economy tanked because of the last administration, that's not relevant," Biden said.

"Right now we are the ones in charge and it's gotten better but it hasn't gotten good enough ... I don't blame them for being angry."

Biden phoned in to WLRN, a public radio station in south Florida, to promote Obama's $447 billion plan to create jobs.

Much of the discussion with the show's host focused on the weak housing and job markets in Florida -- a state Obama won in 2008 and is crucial to his re-election chances -- but Biden said the economy will dominate the thinking of all American voters next year.

"Understandably, totally legitimately, this is a referendum on Obama and Biden, the nature and the state of the economy," he said, echoing the views of many analysts about which factor will most influence the outcome of the election.

"It's soon going to be a choice," he added, listing various aspects of Obama's jobs bill.

Obama, who pushed through an $800 billion economic stimulus bill in 2009, has seen his approval ratings take a hit over worries about unemployment stuck above 9 percent and fears the United States could sink back into recession.

Obama, a Democrat, and his aides criticize Republicans for opposing his initiatives at nearly every turn, and he has pointed the finger at the administration of President George W. Bush for leaving the economy in crisis.

Republicans counter that Obama's spending and regulatory policies have undermined the recovery and job creation.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, asked about Biden's "referendum" remark, agreed voters would be giving a verdict on Obama's economic stewardship, but said "it's more than that."

"Every elected official who's running for office in 2012 will run on his or her record. And this president and vice president will run on their record of saving the American economy from a Great Depression," Carney told reporters.

Obama "fully expects" voters to be assessing not only his record but his vision for the future and "comparing that to whoever is the candidate for the Republican Party," he said.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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