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) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010.

Thursday's Early Headlines

  • Same-Store Sales Mixed in January -- Out of 15 retailers to report January comparable store sales data so far, just over half have topped estimates, according to Thomson Reuters. Costco Wholesale (COST) - Get Costco Wholesale Corporation Report, Limited (LTD) and Children's Place (PLCE) - Get Children's Place, Inc. Report were among the best reported comp sales, while Hot Topic( HOTT) and Stage Stores (SSI) - Get Stage Stores Inc. Report were among the worst.
  • BOE, ECB Hold Rates Steady; Portugal and Greece Pressured -- The European Central Bank kept interest rates at a record low of 1% and the Bank of England left U.K. interest rates at a record low of 0.5%, with the latter halting quantitative easing measures. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported the cost of insuring the debt of euro-zone members with large budget deficits against default rose Thursday. Greece, Portugal and Spain were in focus, with their five-year sovereign credit default spreads moving sharply wider, the paper reported.
  • Bank of America Adds Property Unit to Asia-Pacific Hiring Spree -- Reuters reports that Bank of America (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report has hired Rajesh Melwani from UBS (UBS) - Get UBS Group AG Report to be the Asia Pacific head of equity derivatives sales as part of the bank's major hiring spree across Asia, citing sources close to the matter. The push to expand in the fast growing region has surprised rivals who thought the bank would focus more on rebuilding its U.S. business, the report said. Bank of America has also hired a real estate research team from Bell Potter Securities in Australia, led by veteran analyst Simon Garing, a source told Reuters.

Thursday's Earnings Roundup

  • Cisco Systems (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report said it earned 40 cents a share in its fiscal second quarter, coming in better than the Thomson Reuters average estimate for a profit of 35 cents a share. Revenue jumped 8% to $9.81 billion, which was also better than analysts had forecasted. On an earnings call with analysts, CEO John Chambers said Cisco would see fiscal third-quarter sales growth between 23% to 26%, a forecast well above the analysts' consensus of a 16% revenue increase for this period.
  • Northrop Grumman (NOC) - Get Northrop Grumman Corporation Report notched a fourth-quarter profit of $1.19 a share, which was below the Thomson Reuters average estimate of $1.26 a share. Revenue of $8.93 billion was up from a year ago but also below consensus. Looking ahead to 2010, Northrop offered mixed guidance, with earnings expected to be above analysts' forecasts but revenue set to disappoint.
  • MasterCard (MA) - Get Mastercard Incorporated Class A Report posted fourth-quarter earnings of $2.43 a share, excluding 19 cents in after-tax severance charges, which fell below the Thomson Reuters average estimate of $2.46 a share. Revenue was up 6.3% from a year ago to $1.3 billion, matching estimates.
  • Cigna (CI) - Get Cigna Corporation Report posted an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of $1.03 a share, above the estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters of 95 cents.
  • Sony (SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report said profit rose to 79.2 billion yen ($870.6 million), up from 10.4 billion yen a year earlier. Revenue in the period rose to 3.9% to 2.24 trillion yen. Sony said it expects a fiscal-year loss of 70 billion yen, narrower than its earlier outlook of a loss of 95 billion yen.

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-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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