Yahoo plunges 18%, HP defies the slow-down

Another day, another drama for Yahoo. The latest episode in the company's soap opera saw Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he was "very open" to buying Yahoo's search division but had "moved on" from any interest in acquiring the company as a whole and was "done with any acquistion discussions".

Yahoo's shares dived 17.4% to new low of $US9.54 on Mr Ballmer's remarks, on twice normal volume, and continued to fall in after-hours trading.

CEO Jerry Yang's surprise resignation had sparked hopes that Microsoft would come back to the table, and a brief resurgence in Yahoo's stock. But the emphatic nature of Mr Ballmer's comments today saw speculators lose heart.

Meanwhile, HP finished the session close to even, defying another day drenched in red ink for the NYSE and Nasdaq overall. The company's stock shot-up 14% yesterday on news the world's largest PC maker seems to be avoiding the general tech slump. For its quarter ended October 31, HP's revenue increased 19% to $US33.6 billion, while earnings were up 4% to 84 cents a share.

HP also predicted higher than expected revenue and earnings for fiscal 2009  with earnings per share of $US3.88 to $US4.04 on revenue of $US127.5 billion to $US130 billion. The street consensus was $US3.85 a share on revenue of $US135.06 billion.

HP's merger with EDS is resulting in around 24,600 layoffs worldwide, however, including around 250 in New Zealand, and the company has asked US staff to take two weeks' leave during its annual holiday shutdown rather than the traditional one.

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