Mid-Morning Market Update: Markets Edge Higher; Lowe's Q4 Profit Surges 6.3%

By Jake L'Ecuyer,

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Following the market opening Wednesday, the Dow traded up 0.16 percent to 16,205.67 while the NASDAQ surged 0.32 percent to 4,301.20. The S&P also rose, gaining 0.14 percent to 1,847.73.

Leading and Lagging Sectors Cyclical consumer goods & services stocks gained 0.49 percent Wednesday, with JAKKS Pacific (NASDAQ: JAKK ) leading advancers after the company reported Q4 results. Meanwhile, top gainers in energy sector included ZAGG (NASDAQ: ZAGG ), with shares up 10 percent, and Carter's (NYSE: CRI ), with shares up 6.3 percent.

In trading on Wednesday, financial shares were relative laggards, down on the day by about 0.2 percent. Among the financial stocks, Marlin Business Services (NASDAQ: MRLN ) was down more than 4%, while Walter Investment Management (NYSE: WAC ) tumbled around 3.3 percent.

Top Headline Lowe's Companies (NYSE: LOW ) reported a 6.3% gain in its fiscal fourth-quarter profit and announced an additional $5 billion stock buyback program. For the new fiscal year, the company projects earnings of $2.60 per share, versus analysts' estimates of $2.64 per share. It also projects total sales to rise 5% for the same period. Lowe's posted a quarterly profit of $306 million, or $0.29 per share, versus a year-ago profit of $288 million, or $0.26 per share. Excluding special items, it earned $0.31 per share. Its net sales climbed 5.6% to $11.66 billion. However, analysts were expecting earnings of $0.31 per share on sales of $11.67 billion.

Equities Trading UP Anika Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ANIK ) shot up 48.34 percent to $51.13 after the company received marketing approval for MONOVISC® from the FDA.

Shares of ExamWorks Group (NYSE: EXAM ) got a boost, shooting up 18.46 percent to $36.25 after the company reported upbeat Q4 results and issued a strong revenue outlook.

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) was also up, gaining 7.45 percent to $19.04 after the company swung to a profit in the third quarter.

Equities Trading DOWN Shares of UTi Worldwide (NASDAQ: UTIW ) were down 21.10 percent to $12.04 as the company issued a preliminary loss of $0.33 to $0.38 per share on sales of $1.05 to $1.1 billion for the fourth quarter.

First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR ) shares tumbled 10.32 percent to $52.04 after the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter results.

DreamWorks Animation SKG (NASDAQ: DWA ) was down, falling 13.01 percent to $30.62 after the company reported downbeat fourth-quarter results. Analysts at Piper Jaffray downgraded the stock from Neutral to Underweight.

Commodities In commodity news, oil traded up 0.45 percent to $102.29, while gold traded down 0.74 percent to $1,332.70.

Silver traded down 1.73 percent Wednesday to $21.62, while copper rose 0.08 percent to $3.23.

Eurozone European shares were lower today.

The Spanish Ibex Index fell 0.27 percent, while Italy's FTSE MIB Index fell 0.28 percent.

Meanwhile, the German DAX slipped 0.47 percent and the French CAC 40 dropped 0.52 percent while U.K. shares declined 0.45 percent.

Economics The MBA reported that its index of mortgage application activity declined 8.5% in the week ended February 21.

Sales of new homes climbed 9.6% in January to an annual rate of 468,000 in January. However, economists were projecting a sales rate of 400,000 in the month.

The Treasury is set to auction 5-year notes.

(c) 2014 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Economy , Futures
Referenced Stocks: WAC , ANIK , DWA , FSLR , JAKK

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