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Stocks Slip as Bank Earnings Begin, Consumer Data Disappoints

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Stocks ended slightly lower today, breaking a four day winning streak, after disappointing consumer data. Most notably, March retail sales missed the mark, falling 0.4% for the month compared to estimates of a decline of 0.1%. Readings for retail sales have been volatile since the start of the year, so analysts say it's difficult to know whether the drop is due to temporary factors like the weather, or the increase in the payroll tax which took effect at the start of the year.

All eyes were on JPMorgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) today after the two banking behemoths reported earnings ahead of the opening bell. JPM reported earnings per share of $1.59 compared with estimates of $1.39. WFC earned 92-cents a share versus expectations of 88-cents. JPMorgan's revenue was actually $10 million less than expected at $25.84 billion. Wells Fargo's revenue missed by $300 million coming in at $21.3 billion.

Macy's (M) hit a new 52-week high today as a judge made some secondary rulings in the case surrounding Martha Stewart merchandise. Macy's went to court over J.C. Penney's (JCP) deal with Stewart. For the time being Macy's wants to keep Penney from stocking its shelves with Stewart's merchandise that was meant for the spring. Yesterday the judge refused to dismisses Macy's claims against Stewart. As for Penney, the company is now trying to raise $1-billion in cash so it can rebuild rather than go bankrupt. One scenario has it selling a stake to private equity.

Harris Corp (HRS) fell more than 5% today. The company says its business is down because of cuts in government spending which stem from the sequester. The outlook is so bad, Harris is now laying off workers and cutting expenses. Harris makes wireless network transmission equipment. The stock is down nearly 10% year-to-date.

Shares of Eli Lilly (LLY) were down today on news the company is preparing for patent losses on two of its blockbuster drugs: Cymbalta for depression, and Evista for osteoporosis. Lilly has announced it plans to layoff 1,000 of its U.S. sales reps. The cuts represent a 30% reduction in the company's domestic sales force. Prior to the announcement, shares were trading at a 52-week high.

Rally Software Development (RALY) is living up to its name after its IPO. Shares of the company rallied nearly 30% on its first day of trading. Rally makes cloud-based software applications. It sold 6-million shares priced at $14, which was above it expected range of $11 to $13.

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