All the Top Market-Moving Stories of the Week You Must Know Now

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to this week’s top stories:

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Monday

The U.S. equity markets managed to overcome early losses on Monday and closed the day with solid gains across the board. Investors seemed keen to forget Friday’s disappointing jobs report and focus on earnings season.

DJIA: +0.33% to 14,613.50 S&P 500: +0.63% to 1,563.07 NASDAQ: +0.57% to 3,222.25
Gold: -$3.40 to $1,572.50 per ounce WTI Crude: +0.90% to $93.53 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: +0.029 points to 1.743%

Investors seem to be reacting favorably to Japan’s aggressive new monetary strategy, which was announced last Thursday and will begin taking effect immediately. This initiative, championed by BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, shares a lot in common with the highly-accommodating monetary policy seen in the U.S.

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However, where the Federal Reserve is throwing $85 billion at the yield curve every month, or about 0.6 percent of GDP, the BoJ will be spending 7.5 trillion yen ($80 billion per month), or almost 1.4 percent of GDP. Purchases will be made in six installments a month. The yen fell to trade at 99.3990 to the dollar.

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

Alcoa (NYSE:AA), the world’s third-largest producer of aluminum and a Dow Jones Industrial Average component, kicked off earnings season on Monday after the markets closed. The stock closed the day up 1.82 percent, although it gave up some of that gain early in post-market trading. Revenue of $5.8 billion was pretty much in line with expectations, while earnings of $0.11 per share beat expectations for $0.08 per share… (Read more.)

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) and Macy’s (NYSE:M) are back in court this week to continue the fight for the right to sell Martha Stewart-branded merchandise. Both retailers have indicated that the branded merchandise is a top seller, particularly heading through a fairly short but highly-lucrative Mother’s Day (May 12) shopping season. Shares closed the day up 2.72 percent and 1.38 percent, respectively.

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Separately, CNBC reports that Ron Johnson “is out.” Shares climbed 3.8 percent in post-market trading.

General Electric (NYSE:GE) closed the day up 0.8 percent after it announced a joint agreement with Lufkin (NASDAQ:LUFK) to acquire the manufacturer for $3.3 billion, or $88.50 per share in cash. This is a 38 percent premium on the stock’s Friday closing price, and about 20 percent higher than the mean analyst price target of $73.50. Lufkin stock closed the day up 37.6 percent.

AIG (NYSE:AIG) closed up 3.81 percent. In the absence of major catalysts, investors could be reacting favorably to news that the company is asking a federal judge to stop former CEO Maurice Greenberg from suing in its name.

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Tuesday

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 Tuesday’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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Wednesday

U.S. stocks advanced on Wednesday, pushing the S&P 500 to a fresh record.

DJIA: +0.88% to 14,802.20 S&P 500: +1.22% to 1,587.72 NASDAQ: +1.83% to 3,297.25
Gold: -$27.90 to $1,558.80 per ounce WTI Crude: +0.38% to $94.56 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: +0.055 points to 1.806%

President Barack Obama released his fiscal 2014 budget proposal today. His budget projects a deficit of $744 billion in 2014, or 4.4 percent of GDP. With 1.8 trillion in additional deficit reduction planned over 10 years, the President’s proposal would reduce the deficit to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2016, and to 1.7 percent of GDP by 2023… (Read more.)

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The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting were released. The implications hidden within the 24 pages of text is that the central bank should begin tapering its bond program later this year and stop it completely by the end of the year as economic conditions are slowly improving… (Read more.)

China surprised global markets when it reported a rare trade deficit of $880 million in March, the first in over a year. Officials reported that exports grew 10 percent year over year, instead of the 11.6 percent anticipated by economists. More importantly, officials reported that imports grew 14.1 percent, which compares to expectations for an increase of just 6 percent. China reported a trade surplus of $15.25 billion February… (Read more.)

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

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) closed the day up 3.69 percent. The advance was catalyzed by the unveiling of a new tool for advertisers and reports that the social network won back General Motors (NYSE:GM) as an advertising client… (Read more.)

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) closed the day up 2 percent and 1.55 percent, respectively. The tech giants are reportedly engaged in efforts to integrate Yahoo’s software into Apple’s technology platform… (Read more.)

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First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) stock fell 7.7 percent on Wednesday, cooling off after 45.5 percent gains on Tuesday. Yesterday, the solar solutions company announced full-year 2013 net sales guidance in a range between $3.8 and $4.0 billion, and guided earnings in a range between $.00 and $4.50 per share. The company also announced that it will be acquiring Tetrasun, a solar photovoltaic startup.

Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) closed the regular session up 1.55 percent before advancing an additional 2 percent in post-market trading. The retailer reported net earnings of $1.68 per share for the fourth quarter and $4.56 per share for the fiscal year ended March 2, 2013. Quarterly net sales climbed 24.5 percent compared to the year-ago period, while comparable-store sales increased 2.5 percent. The company is forecasting first-quarter net earnings in a range between $0.88 and $0.94 per share.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE:THC) close the day down 5.5 percent after getting slapped with a downgrade from Buy to Hold by analysts at Deutsche Bank. The company’s stock has climbed more than 30 percent this year to date and is 11 percent shy of the firm’s price target of $46.

Oshkosh (NYSE:OSK) advanced 2 percent after announcing that it will have to reduce its workforce by 900 because of a slump in domestic orders for military vehicles. The company comments that the “lower expected vehicle production is due mainly to the reduction in U.S. Defense budgets and a return to peacetime spending levels as the U.S. winds down war activities. Daily production volumes are expected to decline by approximately 30 percent this summer.”

Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) closed the day up about 1 percent after reporting second-quarter results and updating its fiscal 2013 guidance. The company reported that net sales for the second-quarter increased 17.7 percent year over year to $2.89 billion while net income increased 5.2 percent to $1.21 per diluted share. The company now expects that diluted earnings per share in fiscal 2013 will be between $3.73 and $3.93 compared to $3.58 in fiscal 2012.

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Thursday

U.S. equity markets posted modest gains on Thursday, pushing the S&P 500 into the fourth day of a rally. Although the economy remains weak and supported by historic central bank intervention, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 10 percent in the week ended April 6 to a seasonally-adjusted 346,000. This compares against expectations for a 6 percent decline to 365,000 claims, and punctuates a March littered with negative labor market news… (Read more.)

DJIA: +0.42% to 14,865.10 S&P 500: +0.36% to 1,593.37 NASDAQ: +0.09% to 3,300.16
Gold: +$6.10 to $1,564.90 per ounce WTI Crude: -1.28% to $93.43 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.014 points to 1.790%
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Import prices declined 0.5 percent in March, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday morning. This is the first monthly decline since December and contributed to a 2.7 percent year-over-year decrease in import prices for the month… (Read more.)

IDC and Gartner have released their quarterly trackers of PC shipments worldwide and in the U.S., and while both are mostly negative, there are some discrepancies between the two firms. According to IDC, global PC shipments declined 13.9 percent year-on-year to 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013, nearly doubling the firms predicted decline. The deep slide is the worst recorded since the firm began tracking shipments in 1994… (Read more.)

Strong retail sales figures helped drive stocks higher…

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

L Brands (NYSE:LTD) closed the day up 4.3 percent after reporting that comparable-store sales increased 3 percent year over year for the five weeks ended April 6. The company reported net sales of $894.8 million for the same five-week period, an increase of 6 percent.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) closed the day down 7.7 percent. It seems like the company just cannot catch a break as several major U.S. retailers are reporting a significant increase in returns for the new Z10, one in the new lineup of smartphones on which the company is pinning its future viability… (Read more.)

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Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) closed the day up 8.5 percent after the company announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Fisher Communications (NASDAQ:FSCI) worth $373.3 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Fisher shareholders will receive $41.00 in cash for each share of Fisher common stock they own. The transaction represents a 44% premium to the closing price of Fisher common stock on January 9, 2013, the final trading day prior to Fisher announcing a review of strategic alternatives. Fisher stock increased 5.5 percent to $41.09 per share.

Fortinet (NASDAQ:FTNT) closed down 13 percent after cutting its first-quarter guidance from $0.11 to $0.12 per share to $0.10 per share. The company now expects total revenue in a range between $134 million and $136 million, down from the company’s earlier guidance of $138 million to $141 million.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) closed the day down 4.4 percent, erasing gains made during Wednesday’s regular session. Goldman Sachs slapped the tech company with a downgrade from Neutral to Sell and lowered its price target from $30 to $27, 10.8 percent below Wednesday’s closing price of $30.28. The IDC report cannot be helping either. Ostensibly trapped on the same lifeboat is Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which was off about 2 percent for the day after gains earlier in the week.

Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR) closed the day down 0.77 percent after the specialty retailer reported fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. Comparable-store sales increased 7.5 percent for the year, while earnings per share increased 27.7 percent on a non-GAAP basis, but fell 18.9 percent on a GAAP basis.

Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) closed the day up 7.9 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock from Equal Weight to Overweight. The firm believes that online real-money gambling will lead to profits.

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J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) closed the day up 5.5 percent. 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. However, a trial over whether or not the retailer is allowed to sell Martha Stewart-branded merchandise could be coming to an end.

Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) closed the day up 18 percent after the retail drugstore chain released fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. The company reported fourth-quarter net income of $0.13 per diluted share, which compares against a loss of $0.18 in the year-ago period. Full-year net income of $0.12 per share compares against a $0.43 per-share loss last year. Net income guidance for 2014 is in a range between $0.04 and $0.20 per diluted share.

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Friday

The U.S. stocks edged lower on Friday. While equities suffered modestly, commodities took a particularly hard beating. At the close:

DJIA: +0.00% to 14,865.10 S&P 500: -0.28% to 1,588.86 NASDAQ: -0.16% to 1,588.86
Gold: $63.50 to $1,501.40 per ounce Oil: -2.74% to $90.95 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.68 points to 1.722%

Gold suffered its worst single-day trading loss in over a year and posted its lowest close since July 2011. With the price of gold declining roughly 20 percent from its peak in August 2011, it is now widely considered to be in a bear market.

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Retail sales figures have faced comparison to strong numbers from last year, and they have not stood up well. Early in the year, the consumer spending growth thesis put forward by many analysts, pundits, and even several retailers themselves postulated that the end of the payroll tax holiday would cause the majority of Americans to tighten their financial belts and cut way back on discretionary spending.

This reality now seems to be materializing. Analysts had expected a flat reading of this key economic indicator, but the Commerce Department announced Friday that retail sales fell 0.4 percent in March… (Read more.)

The seasonally-adjusted Producer Price Index for finished good decreased 0.6 percent month over month in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This compares against expectations for a decline of 0.2 percent. On the year, producer prices increased 1.1 percent… (Read more.)

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

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) closed the day down 0.61 percent. The firm reported record first-quarter 2013 net income of $6.5 billion, or $1.59 per share, on revenue of $25.8 billion. This compares against expectations for earnings of $1.40 per share on revenue of $25.97 billion. CEO Jamie Dimon commented: “We are seeing positive signs that the economy is healthy and getting stronger.” However, he noted that “small businesses remain cautious about the recovery and fiscal uncertainty, and are not investing their capital.” (Read more.)

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) stock closed the day down 0.80 percent. The firm reported record first-quarter 2013 net income of $5.2 billion, or $0.92 per share, a 23 percent year-over-year increase. Revenue fell fractionally to $23.3 billion. Chief Financial Officer Tim Sloan commented: “Revenue was down linked quarter largely due to the absence of the higher than average equity gains we recognized last quarter, the expected cyclicality in the mortgage business, and two fewer days in the quarter, which had a negative impact on both net interest income and noninterest income linked quarter trends.”

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LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE:LNKD) closed the day up 2.89 percent. The world’s largest professional social network announced that it has agreed to acquire Pulse, a mobile news reader and mobile content distribution platform with more than 30 million users.

Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY) closed the day down 20.68 percent after reporting financial results and providing guidance for the current fiscal year. Revenues grew 9.4 percent year over year to $1.938 billion, while net profit fell 4.1 percent to $444 million. The company forecasts revenue growth this year in a range between 6 and 10 percent.

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) closed the day off 0.84 percent. The pharmaceutical company will be laying a significant number of employees, reportedly mostly in sales. An exact number was not specified. The company appears to be bracing itself for when several of its major drugs lose patent protection in the coming months.

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