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Stocks Make Modest Gains Despite Concerns Over Syria Crisis

Stocks made modest gains today even as worries over Syria continued to weigh on markets. The move higher came as a great relief to many investors who saw the major indexes sustain some of the biggest losses of the year yesterday. On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors released a weaker-than expected report this morning for pending home sales in July. The group's calculations showed a decline of 1.3% for the month when consensus was for a decline of 0.5%.

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Chico's (CHS) rose more than 4% despite a sizable earnings miss. The apparel retailer reported profits of 27-cents a share, a nickel short of expectations. Revenue was also below estimates at $649.5 million versus $676.93-million. Comparable store sales fell 2.6% for the quarter.

Smaller competitor Express (EXPR) was up as much as 10% during the day on its earnings. Numbers were pretty much in line with estimates: 20-cents a share on $486.2-million dollars in sales. Both profits and revenue were up 7% from a year ago. Express says same-store sales were up 6%, and is now increasing its outlook. Even before this morning, Express has had a spectacular year with shares rising 36% prior to today.

A third retailer, Wet Seal (WTSL), closed flat today following a 9% jump after hours yesterday. The chain reported earnings of a penny a share after the closing bell. That was in line with estimates. As for revenue, it was a slight miss, but rose nearly 4%. The company operates stores under both the "Wet Seal" and "Arden B" names. Moving forward, it predicts same-store sales will rise as a result of a newly installed CEO, cut jobs, and the closing of weaker stores.

Singapore-based Avago Technologies (AVGO) rose a little less than 5% today after moving up 7.7% in the after-market yesterday. Avago chips are used in Apple products, so with the rumored launch of a new iPhone the company is predicting sales growth of 12 to 15% in the quarter ahead. The guidance came yesterday along with earnings for the past quarter. They showed the company making 74-cents a share excluding items when consensus was for 64-cents. Revenue came in at $644-million, also beating expectations.

Facebook (FB) gained back more than 2% today. The stock fell more than 4% yesterday and dipped back below the $40-dollar mark after spending about two days above that perch. The move lower followed word that CFO David Ebersman is selling off shares. The revelation came just a day after filings showed that COO Sheryl Sandberg is also unloading much of her stock. Facebook stock is up more than 40% year-to-date.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) rose more than 2% on news of a $47-million settlement with the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles. The company was accused of failing to flag money transfers made by a high-roller who was trafficking drugs. The stock fell more than 3% yesterday though it is up 28% over the last year. The company has also been accused of corruption in China where it has a large presence in the gambling mecca Macau.

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