Closing Bell Report

A plan to freeze mortgage foreclosures lifted the markets to a higher close with the Dow soaring 133 points to 12,373. Nasdaq held steady at 2320.

On the upside

Fourth quarter profit more than doubled for Veeco Instruments (Nasdaq: VECO) as demand rose and interest expenses slipped.

Compass Minerals International (NYSE: CMP) reported sharply higher fourth quarter earnings that beat expectations.

Although Assured Guaranty (NYSE: AGO) swung to a loss for the fourth quarter, the results beat expectations.

On the downside

Cynosure (Nasdaq: CYNO) reported fourth quarter earnings that more than tripled to surpass estimates but the stock price tumbled.

Friedman, Billings, Ramsey analyst Karen Short downgraded Winn-Dixie (Nasdaq: WINN) saying that customers will most likely to spend less in the next year.

Masco (NYSE: MAS) warned that the housing slump will hurt sales through 2008.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of more than 5 to 3 on the NYSE and by more than 9 to 7 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks gained 6 points to 705.

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