Closing Bell Report

Retreating oil prices boosted the markets to a modestly higher close with the Dow gaining 24 points to 12,626. Nasdaq climbed 16 points to 2464.

On the upside

Nordson (Nasdaq: NDSN) reported sharply higher second quarter earnings that beat expectations and forecast third quarter results ahead of estimates as well.

Standard & Poor's Equity Research upgraded Sovereign Bancorp (NYSE: SOV) citing the recent decline in the stock price.

Second quarter earnings for Eaton Vance (NYSE: EV) more than doubled prompting Goldman Sachs analyst Marc Irizarry to lift his 2009 and 2010 full year earnings estimates.

On the downside

ExpressJet Airlines (NYSE: XJT) blamed record fuel expenses and overcapacity for eliminating 30% of its flights.

Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) announced plans to offer $150 million in convertible notes. Rite Aid CEO Mary Sammons' compensation package for fiscal 2008 was valued at $5.6 million.

Jackson Hewitt (NYSE: JTX) warned that fiscal 2008 earnings will fall short of expectations saying that the company prepared fewer tax returns this year.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of nearly 9 to 7 on the NYSE and by 3 to 2 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks gained 6 points to 733.
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