Herbalife Is Investigated and Wintel Pushes The Dow Higher: Market Recap

After a slow morning, the U.S. equity markets struck out for gains around noontime and closed the day in positive territory. At the close:

DJIA: +0.41% to 14,673.50 S&P 500: +0.35% to 1,568.60 NASDAQ: +0.48% to 3,237.86
Gold: +$12.00 to $1,584.50 per ounce WTI Crude: +0.74% to $94.05 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: +0.003 points to 1.749%
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The ICSC-Goldman Store Sales Index edged up 0.7 percent week over year for the week ended April 6, and 2.1 percent year over year. The Redbook report showed a 2.5 percent year-over-year increase in retail sales. Retail sales in March were held back by the scant progress made in the labor market over the same period. Combined with little growth in wages, Americans found it difficult to spend, which is a concern for economists, as consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of the economy… (Read more.)

A mild increase in China’s consumer price index helped boost stocks on Tuesday. China’s CPI rose just 2.1 percent year over year in March, less than the 2.4 percent gain that was the consensus expectation of a Dow Jones Newswires survey. This compares against a 3.2 percent increase in February. For the first three months of the year, China’s CPI is up 2.4 percent, which compares against a 3.8 percent increase in the year-ago period…

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Both Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) and Skechers (NYSE:SKX) have confirmed that KPMG has resigned as their auditor, following an admission by the accounting firm that it had been forced to fire a senior partner over alleged insider-trading tips. KPMG — one of the Big Four accounting firms — made the accusation public on Monday afternoon, stating that the unnamed partner had divulged inside information about its clients to an investor who made stock market trades based on the tips. The accounting firm also said that it had resigned as the outside auditor of two of its clients as result, but the company did not name which clients… (Read more.)

It seems J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) shareholders are a hard bunch to please. The board of the struggling 111-year-old department-store chain has received scathing criticism from both retail investors and corporate governance experts after ousting its embattled Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson and replacing him with his predecessor, Myron Ullman. Now, he will have decide whether to press forward with Johnson’s changes or roll them back… (Read more.)

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First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) closed the day up 45.5 percent, surging so much so fast that trading was halted five times. The advance is the result of full-year 2013 guidance that came in above analyst expectations. First Solar expects total module shipments to be between 1.6GW and 1.8GW and net sales of $3.8 and $4.0 billion, including approximately $3.6 billion in net sales from systems sales. Consolidated gross margin is expected to be between 20 and 22 percent. Excluding up to $10 million in restructuring expense as previously announced, diluted EPS is expected to be between $4.00 and $4.50, and consolidated operating income is expected to be between $430 and $460 million.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) both closed the day up more than 3 percent, pushing the Dow to yet another record high. In the absence of major catalysts, investors could be pricing in positive expectations for upcoming earnings. Microsoft is expected to report earnings of $0.76 per share, a 26.6 percent year-over-year increase, although Intel’s earnings are expected to decline 22.6 percent to $0.41 per share.

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