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JC Penney Climbs on Soros Stake, Amazon Tumbles on Earnings

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Markets ended mixed today but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed out the week with roughly 2% gains, while the Dow rose 1% for the week. There were two major economic reports released today, both of them disappointing. The Commerce Department says GDP rose at an annual rate of 2.5% in the first quarter. Expectations had been for about 3.2%. Separately, consumer sentiment dipped to 76.4 in April from 78.6 according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's index. The study finds people remain concerned about their employment and financial prospects.

Shares of JC Penney (JCP) soared 11% on news that George Soros has invested in the company. The financier now holds close to an 8% stake in the beleaguered retail chain. It could be another vote of confidence for returning Chief Executive Mike Ullman who's been back on the job since April 8th. The day his return was announced, shares of JCP tanked 12%, but even prior to today they had already recovered most of those losses.

Amazon (AMZN) shares plunged over 7% after the company failed to amaze with its earnings. Revenue missed forecasts even though it was up 22% from a year ago. Net income for the quarter tumbled 37%, and profit margins remain terribly small. The company posted profits of 18-cents a share, easily beating estimates of 8-cents. The bottom line: the company is growing rapidly, but spending money almost as fast as it comes in. The stock is currently off its highs which it hit back in January, but it's still up about 40% since this time last year.

Starbucks (SBUX) shares were down nearly 1% on the release of quarterly earnings after yesterday's closing bell. The company says it earned 48-cents a share, right in line with expectations. Revenue came in shy of estimates at $3.56 billion even though it rose 11% to a new record. Here's the problem: sales at the coffee giant appear to be cooling. The company also gave disappointing guidance for the coming quarter. Prior to the earnings report, shares had been trading at a 52-week high.

Coinstar (CSTR) ended the day flat after popping over 8% in early trading on the heels of its earnings. Ultimately, the company failed to impress investors logging earnings of 93-cents a share when consensus was for 86-cents, though like so many other companies, it missed slightly on revenue. The company, known for its Redbox movie and game rentals, faces increasing competition from streaming services. It plans to change its name to Outerwall in June. The stock hit a 52-week high last summer and is down 18% from one year ago.

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