Mid-Day Report

Bargain hunters lifted the markets modestly higher during the midday with the Dow rising 18 points to 12,619. Nasdaq climbed 14 points to 2462.

On the upside

Although Zale (NYSE: ZLC) widened third quarter losses as the specialty jeweler reduced inventory, revenue surpassed estimates and same store sales climbed.

Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Matt Snowling upgraded First Marblehead (NYSE: FMD) saying that the student loan service company is a good acquisition target.

Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) reported higher first quarter earnings that beat estimates and raised its full year guidance prompting an upgrade.

On the downside

Blue Coat Systems (Nasdaq: BCSI) disappointed with fourth quarter earnings and revenue that fell short of estimates.

Goldman Sachs analyst Cheryl Tang downgraded Solarfun Power Holdings (Nasdaq: SOLF) lowered for its high valuation.

Ford (NYSE: F) blamed record gas prices for lowering its production of pickups and SUVs and warned that the automaker will not return to profitability in 2009.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of 5 to 4 on the NYSE and by nearly 5 to 3 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks gained 5 points to 732.
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