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Stocks Hit New Highs as Yellen Testifies; Kohl’s, Cisco Drop on Earnings

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks drifted up slightly today, setting new record-high closings for both the Dow and the S&P 500. The move higher came as Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen had her confirmation hearing in front of a Senate committee. On the economic front, weekly jobless claims fell by 2,000 from the prior week after last week's report was revised upwards. The Labor Department says there were 339,000 new claims filed. Expectations has been for about 330,000 new claims.

Kohl's (KSS) slid 9% on its earnings which were released ahead of the opening bell. The retailer made 81-cents a share, missing estimates by a nickel, and down a dime from a year ago. Revenues were also below expectations at $4.44-billion versus $4.55-billion. The company also cut its full-year forecast citing a surprise 1.6% drop in same-store sales for the period.

Walmart (WMT) also pointed to an unexpected decline in U.S. comparable sales as part of its quarterly report. The world's largest retailer blamed what it calls a competitive retail environment for the drop. Despite the disappointment, the company managed to beat on earnings with profits of $1.14 a share, a penny better than expected. Revenues, however, were short of the consensus at $115.69-billion when estimates had been for $116.807-billion. Shares of Wal-Mart reversed higher during intraday trading.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) plummeted nearly 11% on its earnings which came out after yesterday's close. The maker of networking equipment reported profits of 53-cents a share, beating estimates by 2-cents. But revenues came up short at $12.09-billion. In addition, the company predicts that figure will drop as much as 10% in the current quarter.

Lockheed Martin (LMT) gained nearly 1% on news that it will being eliminating 4,000 jobs. The cuts come as part of a consolidation of several U.S. facilities. The company says it needs to lower costs because of declines in government spending. Just last month the company raised its full-year earnings outlook after beating expectations for the quarter.

Valero (VLO) popped nearly 4% coming on the heels of a report saying that in October crude oil production overtook imports for the first full month in 18 years. Domestic oil production has been skyrocketing due to the oil shale boom.

Twitter (TWTR) climbed 5% as it grabbed headlines for a JPMorgan (JPM) PR nightmare. The country's largest bank solicited questions from people over the microblogging service. But its suggested hashtag, #AskJPM, was essentially hijacked by snarky remarks. Comments alluded to JPMorgan's mortgage-backed securities, foreclosure practices, and the London Whale Trading scandal. The company decided to cancel the session where it had planned to answer the questions, but the hashtag and the remarks remain on Twitter.

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