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The Markets Now: Office Depot and OfficeMax Discuss Merger


Wal-Mart shares are down after a weak sales report, and BP goes to trial.


Stocks moved up after talks of mergers continued on the heels of recent acquisition news.

In economic news, the NAHB housing market index is down one point to 46, showing weakness in the housing market as a result of economic uncertainty.

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) moved up 0.29% to 14022.12 and the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) edged up 0.39% to 1525.67. The Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 0.25% to 3200.11.

BP plc (NYSE:BP) announced that it has not reached a settlement on the Deepwater Horizon accident. BP is preparing to defend itself in civil court next week. The stock fell 1.14% to $41.47.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) announced that it offered to buy out Biglari Holdings' (NYSE:BH) stake at $300 million. Its shares fell 0.91% to $66.10.

OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX) and Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) are in talks to merge after pressure from shareholders to bring in more profit. The merger would allow both retailers to cut costs and better compete with Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS). OfficeMax shares surged 26.05% to $13.55 and Office Depot shares moved up 17.65% to $5.40. Staples stock is up 11.97% to $14.49.

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) shares edged down 0.36% to $69.05 after it reported its worst monthly sales in seven years for February. The sales results were a jolt back to reality after executives said they expected strong sales due to warmer weather and Super Bowl purchases.

Qlik Technologies (NASDAQ:QLIK) reported fourth-quarter income of $0.25 per share compared to $0.23 per share a year ago. Its CFO William G. Sorenson is leaving the company for personal reasons. Shares tumbled 2.50% to $26.15.

CBS Corporation's (NYSE:CBS) net income rose 6% in the fourth quarter to $0.60 per share from $0.55 per share, but earnings fell short of expectations at $0.64 per share versus $0.68 per share. Its stock moved up 0.13% to $44.70.

Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) announced third-quarter earnings of $0.97 per share from $0.89 per share a year ago. Revenue rose 3% to $4 billion. Shares fell 2.78% to $45.81.

VF Corp.'s (NYSE:VFC) shares rose 1.97% to $160.99 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of $10.70 per share, up 11% from last year, but missing analyst estimates of $10.95. The warmer weather may have hurt sales for the clothing company's North Face brand.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a decline in 2014 rates, affecting insurers such as Humana (NYSE:HUM) and UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH). Humana's stock sank 7.75% to $71.95 and UnitedHealth fell 2.09% to $56.12.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) launched its new email service,, automatically converting its users from MSN and hotmail to The company recently broadcast ads criticizing the supposed lack of privacy in Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) email accounts, using the term "scroogled." Shares moved up 0.76% to $27.99.

Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) stock has stayed higher after Carl Icahn bought a large stake in the company accused of engaging in a pyramid scheme. Shares rose 1.78% to $39.36.

Windstream Corp. (NASDAQ:WIN) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $0.11 per share, missing Wall Street estimates of $0.13 per share. Revenue also missed analyst expectations at $1.54 billion versus $1.55 billion. Its stock inched up 0.78% to $9.00.

National Financial Partners Corp. (NYSE:NFP) reported a rise in income for the fourth quarter to $19.4 billion or $0.45 per share. Revenue grew 3.8% to $300 million. Shares rose 0.86% to $19.98.

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