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Stocks Hold Steady as Traders Await Earnings Reports and Jobs Numbers

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks started the week with modest gains, not much higher than their closing levels from Friday. Not that that's a bad thing. Both the Dow and S&P are coming off four straight weeks of gains. Traders may be waiting for more earnings reports and economic releases like the October jobs report, which is set for Friday. Today the Commerce Department released numbers on factory orders for September. They climbed 1.7% for the month which was in line with expectations. Orders for August dipped 0.1%.

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BlackBerry (BBRY) bombed today on a bombshell. The beleaguered phone maker dropped double-digits as it revealed the ouster of CEO Thorsten Heins and a decision not to put itself up for sale. The change in course occurred just as the company's largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial, was up against a deadline to follow through on a tentative takeover plan. Now BlackBerry says it will instead sell $1-billion of convertible debt to Fairfax. Former Sybase CEO John Chen will replace Heins on an interim basis and lead the search for a more permanent replacement.

Kellogg (K) gained nearly 1% on a narrow earnings beat which was announced ahead of the opening bell. The cereal maker made 90-cents a share on an adjusted basis. That was a penny better than expected. Revenues were basically in line with estimates of $3.7-billion. Kellogg has been trying to think out of the box, most recently with the purchase of Pringles. That expanded the company's snack portfolio, which also includes Cheez-its and Keebler. Prior to today, the stock was up 9% so far this year.

Tri Pointe Homes (TPH) jumped over 4% today. The California-based upstart announced plans this morning to buy the home-building division of timber giant Weyerhauser (WY). The deal is valued at $2.7-billion and it vaults Tri Pointe into the nation's top-20 homebuilders. Tri Pointe had been down 19% this year prior to today's gains. As for Weyerhaeuser it essentially traded flat today on the news.

Lululemon (LULU) rose today despite the rumblings of another scandal. Reuters is reporting that the maker of yoga apparel is being hit with a new round of customer complaints over some of its pants. Last spring Lulu was left with bare shelves after it was forced to recall pants which were too sheer. The trouble not only sent the stock tumbling and caused a PR nightmare. CEO CHristine Day resigned soon afterwards.

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