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Stocks End Flat After Flurry of Data; Express, Sears, and J.C. Penney Fall

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks rose, fell sharply, then rebounded after several economic reports. The ADP payroll report measured 215,000 new jobs in November, soaring past estimates which were for 173,000 new jobs. October's figure was also revised up to 184,000 from 130,000. Separately the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes in October surged the most in three decades. Not as encouraging was a report showing the U.S. trade deficit was $40.6-billion in October when estimates had been for $40-billion. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index dipped to 53.9 in November from 55.4 the prior month.  The data watching continues this week with the all important November jobs report coming out this Friday.

POLL: How much faith do you place in jobs reports?

Express (EXPR) tumbled over 20% today after reporting earnings ahead of the opening bell. The retailer missed on the bottom line with profits of 23-cents a share when expectations were for 25-cents. As for revenues, they topped estimates, rising to $503-million when estimates were for $499.9-million. The problem here: the company is lowering its outlook based on sales over the Thanksgiving weekend. Business was better than last year, but fell short of expectations. As a result, the company says it will be necessary to ramp-up discounts.

Sears (SHLD) dropped another 8% today. The move lower follows losses of almost 8% yesterday. CEO Eddie Lampert has cut his stake in the company to 48% down from 55% according to SEC filings. Sears has been on a steady decline ever since Lampert merged it with Kmart back in 2005, posting 27 straight quarterly sales declines.

Sears rival, J.C. Penney (JCP) moved several points into the red today, despite signs of a turnaround. The troubled retailer reported a 10.1% increase in same-store sales for November. It's the second-straight month of gains for the company. Penney shares initially rose 5% in the premarket on the news.

Bob Evans Farms (BOBE) spent much of the day down on its earnings which came out after yesterday's closing bell. The restaurant chain reported adjusted profits of 35-cents a share, when estimates had been for 55-cents. Sales were also below expectations at $332.6-million versus $339.07-million. That's a drop of more than 19% from the same period last year.

Omnivision Technologies (OVTI) slid more than 3% on its earnings. The maker of imaging sensors for small cameras reported earnings of 60-cents a share, easily beating estimates of 43-cents a share. The company also beat on revenue, posting $397.2-million when expectations were $392.1. However the company lowered its forecast for the current quarter.

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