Opening Bell Report

The markets opened lower as investors worried about high oil prices and an uptick in consumer prices in January. The Dow dropped 100 points to 12,236 while Nasdaq lost 12 points to 2293.

On the upside

Discount retailer TJX (NYSE: TJX) posted sharply higher 4th quarter profits citing strong margin controls. Favorable foreign currency exchange rates also boosted the operator of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) posted higher earnings that beat estimates. Analysts promptly upgraded the stock.

Semiconductor stocks rose after a Thomas Weisel analyst predicted in a recovery in the chip market. Shares of Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) edged higher.

On the downside

A $20 billion deal to combine Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and Northwest Airlines (NYSE: NWA) may be hindered by an impasse between the pilot unions of the two companies, according to an AP report.

Organic food retailer Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI) reported higher same-store sales, but its profit margins concerned some analysts.

Shares of Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP) tumbled below $1 after the high-tech gadget retailer filed for bankruptcy protection.

In the broad market, decling issues outpaced advancers by a margin of nearly 3 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks lost 4 points to 698.

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