After its worst two-day stretch of the year, the stock market is doing its best to gain back ground this morning. Although some favorable economic headlines from Germany and signs of continuing improvement in Japan take some of the credit for the advance, comments from a regional Federal Reserve bank president counteracted some of the pessimism that followed the release of the minutes from the Fed's most recent policy meeting. By 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up about 60 points, or 0.44%, while broader markets posted similar percentage gains.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is the big winner on the Dow so far today, soaring 11% after the beleaguered company gave better-than-expected guidance for the current quarter. Even as revenue fell by 5.6% during the company's fiscal first quarter, HP's sales were better than many had feared, and the company managed to hold on to a couple of important enterprise-services customers that it had expected to leave. With PC sales still weak, HP has plenty of work left to do, but some believe the worst may finally be over for the company.
Elsewhere, VIVUS (NASDAQ:VVUS) fell 4.7% on news that its appeal to European drug-regulators for its Qsymia weight-loss drug had been denied. With the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use calling for further safety testing, VIVUS will need to do expensive long-duration trials to satisfy regulators. That's good news for rival Arena Pharmaceuticals, which is up 2% even as its own drug awaits review by the EU.
Finally, AIG (NYSE:AIG) has soared 3% after managing to earn an operating profit for the quarter despite suffering the impact of Hurricane Sandy. With rising investment income from its life insurance unit, AIG was able to hold off costs of $1.3 billion related to the storm, and CEO Robert Benmosche's numerous moves to sell off noncore assets should help the company focus on profitable insurance lines going forward.