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|Includes: Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY), HD, JCP, TJX, URBN

By Carlos Guillen

Quite encouragingly, stocks markets here at home are having a winning trading session, reflected by the Dow Jones Industrial Average making small but steady gains throughout the morning trading activity, reversing a four day decline. A number of retailers have assisted some of the enthusiasm, but there is still very little in terms of economic drivers, and we are still waiting to see what the Fed's minutes will say about tapering tomorrow.

As it stands there is still a lot of speculation that the Federal Reserve will begin trimming its monthly bond purchases as early as September, and tomorrow investors will be focused on the minutes from the last FOMC meeting. Then the focus will shift to the Kansas City Fed's Jackson Hole Symposium on Thursday, all of which can strongly shake markets if investors interpret signs of Fed tapering sooner rather than later.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) have been able to spark some enthusiasm in today's trading session despite Fed speculation. Best Buy has gained 9.8 percent after posting a surprise increase in quarterly earnings, and Urban Outfitters has advanced over 10 percent after posting profit growth that topped the Street's forecasts. TJX Cos. (NYSE:TJX), the operator of T.J. Maxx and Marshall's discount stores, has gained 6.6 percent after raising its profit and same-store sales forecasts for the year. Home Depot (NYSE:HD) also reported better-than-expected quarterly results and raised its full-year earnings and revenue forecast, citing an improving housing market, but the investors are not too convinced about further gains in the housing sectors and are being much more cautious; consequently, Home Depot's stock has not made significant gains today.

In all, given all the uncertainty emanating from the next two days of Fed activities, it is rather surprising that equities are trading modestly higher in today's session. Let's just hope the Fed's comments in the next two days are not interpreted as tapering much sooner than expected. At the moment volumes are still light, so things could reverse today without warning. Hang tight folks, it is going to be a rough ride.

JC Penney Still Hanging On
By David Urani

Poor old JC Penney just can't catch a break these days, except for today with a relatively modest 6% bounce off its lows on its quarterly results. The company posted a net loss of $2.16 per share, well below the -$1.14 consensus estimates, and its revenue declined 11.9% to $2.66 billion versus the $2.78 billion consensus. That included comparable store sales down 11.9% as well.

Certainly it's more pain coming from the fallen retailer who is going through a serious identity crisis. Of course, the ill-fated Bill Ackman (who has also lost big so far in his bet against Herbalife) resigned from the board last week which is perhaps a good thing; he had been instrumental in pushing for ex-CEO Ron Johnson into command. And as well all know, Mr. Johnson only made the situation worse by removing coupons and generally alienating much of the consumer base.

So now JCP is trading higher on what is objectively quite a poor quarter. Perhaps the Street is taking some bit of solace from the fact that sales were down 'just' 11.9% versus the 21.7% decline in last year's Q2 (although still worse than the -8.4% expected by the consensus). The company is also seeing a brand new investment in the company's debt by Hedge Funder Kyle Bass. And so now, having seemingly gone back to its roots, the question remains on whether JC Penney will still be around a couple of years from now.

Today the market seems to think it has a chance. But it still has quite a long way to go to mend itself back together again.