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Stocks Hit New Highs on Iran Accord; Walmart Names New CEO; J.C. Penney and Sears Climb

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

The Nasdaq topped the 4,000 mark today for the first time in more than 13-years. It broke the barrier at the beginning of the trading day. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 also set new highs today. The rise was a result of an international accord with Iran, reached over the weekend. It is an interim deal which eases sanctions against Iran as part of a push to get the country to stop pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

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Walmart (WMT) moved higher on news that CEO Mike Duke is being replaced by Doug McMillon. Duke, who's 63, will retire early next year. As for McMillon, he's currently President and CEO of Wal-Mart International. Many are interpreting his selection as a sign that Walmart is looking beyond the U.S. for its growth. Duke will remain as an adviser to McMillon for a year. He will also stay on as chairman of the board's executive committee.

Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) tumbled today, losing over 10%. The company is behind the Hunger Games box office blockbuster. "Catching Fire" posted the fourth biggest weekend debut on record. The film took in $161-million here and in Canada. It also opened in 63-other countries where it racked up nearly $150-million more. Perhaps today's move lower was nothing more than profit taking. The stock has doubled since the start of the year.

J.C. Penney (JCP) rose several points today as it began its last week as part of the S&P 500. The troubled retailer is being removed from the index after Friday's close. S&P says Penney's shrunken market cap no longer makes it a suitable component for the index. It will be replaced by Allegion, an upcoming spinoff of Ingersoll-Rand (IR). The move will create a ripple effect: J.C. Penney will move to S&P's MidCap 400, bumping Aeropostale (ARO) to the SmallCap 600, where it will replace Corinthian Colleges (COCO). As for Penney, it also made headlines today because of a class action lawsuit. It alleges the retailer made false and misleading statements regarding its liquidity to people who bought common stock between August 20th and September 26th of this year.

J.C. Penney competitor Sears Holdings (SHLD) climbed more than 7% today. The rise came after a report in the New York Post. The newspaper says CEO Eddie Lampert is talking to bankers about selling Sears Canada stores. The company currently owns a 51% stake in the chain north of the border.

Internet security company Qihoo (QIHU) slid more than 9% after reporting earnings this morning. It's a little surprising because the China-based company made 47-cents a share, a dime better than expected. Revenues also beat estimates and more than doubled since last year hitting $187.9-million. Qihoo says it now has 465-million users for its PC products and almost as many for its mobile ones. Shares of Qihoo went into today's regular session up 190% year-to-date.

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