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4:16 PM, Feb 24, 2010 --

  • NYSE up 56 (0.8%) to 7,030.67.
  • DJIA up 92 (0.9%) to 10,374.
  • S&P 500 up 10.6 (0.9%) to 1,105.
  • Nasdaq up 22.46 (1%) to 2,236.


GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Hang Seng down 0.75%
  • Nikkei down 1.48%
  • FTSE up 0.5%


UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) BNE sold to RR Donnelley for $11.50 per share.

(+) COTT issues better-than-expected Q4 results.

(+) FRE gains on latest results.

(+) DLTR tops Q4 results and issues guidance.

(+) GRMN beats with Q4, guides mostly above Street for 2010.

(+) SLXP continuing sharp evening gain on positive FDA ruling.

(+) ADSK continues evening gain that followed earnings beat.

(+) ZLC beats with earnings, shy with revenue.

(+) TJX beats with Q4 EPS estimates.

(+) HRBR gets patent for Apoptone cancer treatment.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) TSL beats with Q4.

(-) CHS beats with Q4 results.

(-) SKS beats with Q4 results.

(-) IFLG announces strategic partnership.

(-) GRMN tops with Q4 EPS, guides mostly above Street for 2010.

(-) NEP says some financials need to be corrected.

(-) RIG misses Q4 estimates.

(-) GOOG says EU opens antitrust inquiry.

(-) SJM beats with earnings.

MARKET DIRECTION

Major equity averages gain around 1%, snapping a two-day drop that kicked off the week.

Stocks gained after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that record-low interest rates are still needed to ensure that the economic recovery will continue and to help trim high unemployment.

Bernanke's testimony countered a disappointing report on January home sales that was taking the market lower after an upside start on tech and retail reports. Bernanke was confident that the recovery would continue, but also cautioned to expect a slow return to economic growth and an equally slow reduction in unemployment.

Earlier, the Commerce Department said sales dropped 11.2% to a 309,000-unit annual rate, the lowest level since record keeping started in January 1963, compared with an upwardly revised 348,000 units in December. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new home sales to increase to a 360,000 unit annual pace from December's previously reported 342,000 units.

Investors are concerned about the strength of the economy, which is still plagued by high unemployment. A sharp drop in consumer confidence and its potential impact on consumer spending triggered a sell-off yesterday.

Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee he still expects interest rates will remain low for an extended period.

But not all housing news was negative. Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE:TOL) said the slow recovery of the housing market helped it report a narrower loss of $40.8 million, or 25 cents a share, in the three months ended in January, compared with a loss of $88.9 million, or 55 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Analysts were looking for a loss of 35 cents. Revenue declined 20% to $326.7 million from $409 million last year; analysts were looking for about $325 million. The luxury homebuilder also said it sees hints of a housing recovery.

Deal news also gave some support to the broader market. Donnelley & Sons Company (NASDAQ:RRD) and Bowne & Co. (BNE) announced they signed a definitive agreement pursuant to which RR Donnelley will acquire Bowne & Co., Inc., a provider of shareholder and marketing communications services. The all cash deal is valued at approximately $481 million, or $11.50 per share.

Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) jumped on the back of better-than-expected Q4 results and in-line Q1 guidance, lifting the broader tech space.

Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) gained after it reported Q4 pro forma EPS of $1.43 vs $0.93 a year earlier and topping the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for $0.95. Revenue of $1.059 billion is up 1% from $1.048 billion a year earlier. For 2010, the company guides for EPS at $2.75 to $3.15. Revenue is at $2.9 billion to $3.1 billion. The Street is at $2.69 on $2.85 billion in revs.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) says European antitrust authorities have opened a preliminary inquiry into complaints about its tactics made by three European Internet companies. The inquiry, disclosed late Tuesday, appears to focus largely on complaints that Google unfairly ranks the sites of Internet competitors, in effect lowering their rank in search listings on Google sites, the Wall Street Journal reports. Google denied violating European law or taking any action to stifle competition.

Source: Stock Markets Soothed by Gentle Ben