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JCPenney stock soars; Nordstrom beats; Applied Materials swings to a profit

Here are some of the stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching today.

Applied Materials (AMAT) shares rose in early trading after it swung to a profit last quarter. The company had a 19% jump in sales, thanks to strong demand for flat-panel display machinery. It also predicted sales would rise 13% to 19% in the current quarter. Applied materials reported earnings of $0.28 a share and revenue of $2.35 billion, both of which were in-line with estimates.

The retail sector remains in the spotlight today. Shares of Nordstrom (JWN) soared in pre-market trading. The high-end retailer reported earnings of $0.72 a share, that beat estimates by $0.04. Revenue came in above estimates at $2.93 billion. Profit, however, fell 3.5% compared to a year ago. The company said its catalog, online and outlet sales helped it get through the rough winter which had impacted so many other retailers. Nordstrom also said it will seek a partner for its credit card business, which is worth about $2 billion, in the hopes that it will give the company greater financial flexibility.

But the big news in the retail space is JCPenney (JCP). The stock surged in early trading after the struggling retailer's results surpased Wall Street estimates. Penney's also reported first-quarter same-store sales jumped 6.2% to $2.8 billion, topping expectations. This marks the second consecutive quarterly increase following a nine-quarter losing streak. Meanwhile, store traffic in April turned positive for the first time in over 2 years.

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