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The Markets Now: Barnes & Noble Rises on News of Possible Split

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In other news, investors are watching the Friday sequester deadline.

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Stocks moved down after gains made Friday on news of shaky international politics in Italy and a looming sequester deadline in the US. The sequester is set to kick in Friday, prompting lawmakers to introduce proposals that would replace the reductions.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index showed the country's economic growth fell to -0.32 in January compared to a positive 0.25 reading in December. The three-month average, however, is positive, ranging from 0.30 to 0.23.

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) inched up 0.13% to 14018.36 and the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) moved up 0.14% to 1517.67. The Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 0.28% to 3171.29.

Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) brought in $288 million, or $0.26 per share, in net income during the fourth quarter, above analyst expectations. It's down from a year earlier, however, when the home improvement retailer made $322 million in net income. The stock rose 0.61% to $37.85.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) will meet with shareholders today to discuss the company's performance, Bloomberg reported. Shares fell 0.05% to $19.19.

RP Management LLC made an offer to buy Irish drugmaker Elan Corporation, plc (NYSE:ELN) for $6.5 billion. Elan made plans to sell its stake in a multiple sclerosis drug to Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB). Shares of Elan rose 6.13% to $11.25.

Sinopec (NYSE:SHI) announced it will buy a stake in Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) assets for $1 billion in cash. Sinopec stock moved up 0.51% to $39.21, and Chesapeake shares fell 2.29% to $19.62.

The UK publisher Pearson PLC (NYSE:PSO) is going to cut jobs to save money that it can then reinvest in digital segment and emerging markets operations. The stock price sank 4.77% to $17.78.

In a regulatory filing, Barnes & Noble's (NYSE:BKS) chairman Leonard Riggio made statements about purchasing the company's stores and website, excluding Nook Media and the Nook e-reader and tablet business. Shares surged 8.81% to $14.70.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares rose 1.37% to $27.50 after the social networking company disclosed that it will receive $429 million in tax refunds.

Boeing (NYSE:BA) stock fell 0.83% to $76.02 despite its announcement of a plan to confront battery problems that caused the grounding of its 787 Dreamliners.

Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) shares ascended to $90.61, up 4.37% after its price target was raised by Piper Jaffray from $104 to $107 this morning.

Pioneer Southwest Energy (NYSE:PSE) was downgraded from a Neutral to Sell rating by UBS AG. Shares edged down 0.91% to $24.09.

Shanda Games (NASDAQ:GAME) will release its earnings report tomorrow. The gaming company is expected to report $0.15 in earnings per share. The stock is flat at $3.00.

Enthusiasm over the merger between Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) and OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX) appears to have cooled. Office Depot's stock has declined 3.33% to $4.07, and OfficeMax shares moved down 3.02% to $11.92. Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) shares rose 3.01% to $13.67.

CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) refused a $5 million settlement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The regulators alleged that CME Group and two former employees leaked data on clients' trades. Its stock inched up 0.99% to $58.89.

Hertz (NYSE:HTZ) surged 6.41% to $19.91 after it reported a fourth-quarter loss of $36.4 million, or $0.09 per share, compared to $47.1 million, or $0.11 per share, a year earlier. Its revenue increased 15% to $2.3 billion.

Caesars Entertainment Corp (NASDAQ:CZR) is expected to report a loss of $1.62 per share, an improvement from a loss of $1.76 per share a year earlier. Analysts also expect a loss of $8.68 per share for the fiscal year. Shares moved up 5.35% to $12.21.

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