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String of Positives on Maundy Thursday 2009

|Includes: J.C. Penney Company Inc. (JCP), SPY, TJX, WFC

The fireworks on Maundy Thursday 2009 started with a story in the NY Times.  According to sources close to the ongoing "stress testing" of the top 19 banks, the condition of banks really is not as dire as many had feared.

The headlines that followed included a Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) report that this top-19 bank beat earnings numbers by posting more than $3B in profits in Q1. Net income was more than double the average estimate of analysts. Profitable business in housing investments contributed significantly to the jump.

Shortly thereafter, the government reported that initial claims for unemployment fell significantly. New filings fell by 20,000 applicants. The four week moving average for initial claims also began to fall.

Improving March retail sales reports came next. Retailers including J.C. Penney Co (NYSE:JCP)
and TJX Companies [Marshalls, TJMaxx, HomeGoods, etc] (NYSE:TJX) increased their Q1 forecasts reporting that March sales performed better than expected. Many other retailers also reported that their declining trend of the last several months now shows signs of brightening.

And as markets continued to move sharply higher, reports came in that Larry Summers, Barack Obama's economic policy leader said, "I think the sense of a ball falling off the table -- which is what the economy has felt like since the middle of last fall -- I think we can be reasonably confident that that's going to end within the next few months."

And the stock markets (NYSEARCA:SPY) finished up strongly heading into the long Easter weekend.