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The Markets Now: JC Penney Feels the Pain From Huge Loss

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Royal Bank of Scotland is also down on a disappointing earnings report.

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Stocks edged up after the release of a positive jobless claims report and a slightly disappointing gross domestic product report.

GDP advanced at a 0.1% annualized rate between October and December. Economists had forecast a more hopeful 0.5% growth rate, but growth may have been damaged due to agencies cutting back ahead of the sequester. Lawmakers and the president will let the sequester pass; they are meeting to discuss the budget Friday after cuts will have already taken effect.

Jobless claims have fallen for past four weeks, with claims falling to 344,000 from 366,000. The four-week moving average was 355,000, an almost 7,000 claim fall from the week before.

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) rose 0.08% to 14086.29 and the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) inched up 0.16% to 1518.39. The Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) moved up 0.28% to 3171.25.

JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) posted a fourth-quarter loss of $552 million or $2.51 per share, compared to analyst estimates of a $0.18 per share loss. The full fiscal year loss was $985 million, sending shares down 17.67% to $17.42. This quarter marked the sixth consecutive quarter of losses for the retailer.

Sears' (NASDAQ:SHLD) fourth-quarter loss was $489 million or $4.61 per share. It was a big improvement from last year's fourth-quarter loss of $2.4 billion or $22.63 per share. Revenue fell 2% from a year ago. The stock fell 4.93% to $45.13.

(See also: The Harlem Shake and the Decline of Western Civilization.)

More customers have been frequenting Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) stores as its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 22% to $1.01 per share compared to $0.80 per share a year ago. The stock inched up 0.23% to $45.49.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to investigate a $90,000 purchase of Heinz (NYSE:HNZ) stock options before the buyout news that sent shares sharply up. Shares are down 0.03% at $72.49.

Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS) posted a $9 billion fourth-quarter loss. The bank is mostly owned by British taxpayers, causing the bank to announce plans to sell assets and cut back its business, in order to put regulators at ease. RBS said it plans to sell a stake in its Citizens Financial Group. Its shares are down 7.47% to $320.90.

Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) announced that it is acquiring Agila Specialties Private Limited, a manufacturer of generic injectable products. Shares ascended 3.84% to $29.67.

Investors are wondering whether Coach (NYSE:COH) will be acquired after DealReporter said the company is considering a sale. The handbag company moved up 0.15% to $47.89.

Groupon's (NASDAQ:GRPN) stock continued to plummet after investors were disappointed by a downbeat forecast and revenue that rose 30% but missed analyst expectations. Shares fell 21.77% to $4.68.

Pandora (NYSE:P) is limiting the number of hours listeners can use the free service on their phones to 40 hours per month. Pandora stock fell 4.63% to $12.15.

(See also: Blow to BlackBerry as Pentagon Opens Up Network for Apple and Google.)

Yahoo's (NASDAQ:YHOO) Marissa Myers recently issued a controversial new directive that would end telecommuting at the company. The human resources document about this matter was leaked. Shares are up 1.11% at $21.40.

Power plant technology company Babcock & Wilcox (NYSE:BWC) earned a fourth-quarter profit of 39 million or $0.33 per share compared to a loss of $63 million or $0.53 per share in the fourth quarter last year. Shares moved up 1.59% to $26.85.

New Jersey and Nevada's approval of online gambling sent gaming company shares up, including Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) and Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR). Boyd Gaming is at $6.76, up 0.60%, and Caesar's Entertainment is up 1.07% at $12.31. Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), which surged yesterday, fell 0.85% to $3.49.

Boeing (NYSE:BA) shares edged down 0.76% to $76.77 after the head of its commercial planes unit tried to ease the minds of Japanese regulators that its proposed fixes would adequately address the battery problems.

CommonWealth REIT (NYSE:CWH) is going ahead with its equity offering despite activist investor Keith Meister's discussion of increasing the buyout offer. The investors sued the company in an effort to stop the company's plan to issue new stock. Shares are down 3.73% at $21.67.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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