Mid-Day Report

Despite falling new home sales and a sharp drop in factory orders, the markets traded higher during the midday as Fed chief Ben Bernanke indicated that the central bank was poised to cut rates again to jumpstart the economy. The Dow climbed 54 points to 12,739 while Nasdaq gained 15 points to 2360.

On the upside

Higher oil and natural gas prices lifted fourth quarter earnings for Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR).

As part of a plan to improve profits and reduce expenses, Zale (NYSE: ZLC) will close nearly 105 stores and eliminate more than 200 positions.

Lehman Brothers analyst Megan Talbott McGrath initiated coverage of D. R. Horton (NYSE: DHI) with a Buy rating saying that the housing market should improve during the second half of 2008.

On the downside

Carter's (NYSE: CRI) blamed markdowns at the wholesale level for fourth quarter earnings that fell short of estimates and warned that first quarter results will disappoint prompting a downgrade.

Acquisition costs weighed down fourth quarter earnings for URS (NYSE: URS).

Although CV Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CVTX) narrowed fourth quarter losses, the results fell short of estimates.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of nearly 5 to 3 on the NYSE and by more than 9 to 7 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks added 5 points to 722.

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