Today's secret word: retailing.

Actually, it's not so secret. The retailing world is all over the news.

Credit Suisse First Boston

started coverage of the retailing sector and cited two companies as strong buys:

Federated Department Stores





. Both stocks were up this morning. Two other retailers were named as buys --

Wal-Mart Stores

(WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report


May Department Stores


, and they also were moving higher.

The rest of the list only made it to the hold level, among them


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The firm didn't return a phone call seeking further details.

In addition, today is a big day for retail earnings reports. Wal-Mart earned 48 cents a share in its fourth quarter, compared with a

First Call

consensus estimate of 47 cents a share and the year-earlier's 41 cents.

Consolidated Stores

(CNS) - Get Cohen & Steers, Inc. Report

said it earned $1.58 a share on an operating basis, below the consensus forecast of $1.61, but the stock was still up. The year-ago figure was 70 cents a share. And

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. (HD) Report

earned 52 cents a share, above the consensus forecast figure of 49 cents and ahead of the year-earlier's 39 cents. Its stock jumped ahead.

Outside of the retailing world,

Aluminum Co. of America

(AA) - Get Alcoa Corp. Report

continued its European expansion by agreeing to acquire the main units of Spanish aluminum maker


. Terms weren't disclosed. Alcoa's stock was off on the news.

Meanwhile, the stock market was trending downward in quiet action.

By Erle Norton