Opening Bell Report

The markets opened lower as oil prices surged to a new record high. Meanwhile, retailers reported better than expected sales in February. The Dow lost 61 points to 12,193 while Nasdaq slipped 3 points to 2269.

On the upside

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) reported a 2.6% gain in February same-store sales versus year-ago levels. Target (NYSE: TGT) posted a 0.5% gain instead of an expected decline.

Bio-Reference Labs (Nasdaq: BRLI) posted higher revenues and profits that beat estimates. The company provides clinical laboratory testing services primarily in the New York City area.

Smith Micro Software (Nasdaq: SMSI) reported a drop in earnings due to one-time charges, but the results beat expectations. Analysts promptly upgraded the maker of software for the wireless market.

On the downside

Shares of Union Drilling (Nasdaq: UDRL) tumbled after the provider of drilling services for natural-gas producers posted a drop in 4th quarter profits due to lower utilization.

Saks (NYSE: SKS) reported 4th quarter profits that nearly doubled, but the retailer's management team worried about skittish spending among affluent shoppers.

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) reported disappointing February results with same-store apparel sales down 4% versus year-ago levels.

In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of nearly 3 to 1 on the NYSE and by nearly 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks slipped 2 points to 681.

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