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1. Two Points of Interest

Alan Farley
4/8/2009 1:26 PM EDT

1. Insurers have been getting sold all day, after gapping higher on news of TARP eligibility. They've just taken another leg down in the last half hour, which will make a late-day recovery more difficult.

2. Retailers are up big ahead of March same-store sales data to be released after the close and before Thursday's open. This type of positive action into the data usually triggers a sell-the-news trade.

Intraday Prudential Financial ( PRU) chart here.

2. AT&T Strike Is Likely but a Long-Term Positive

David Eller
4/8/2009 12:46 PM EDT

AT&T's ( T) employment contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) expired on Saturday, and the threat of a strike has recently pressured the stock. However, the key sticking points being negotiated are not comparable with those of competitors or non-union management. The likely outcome is a compromise that will boost EPS by 2 cents to 4 cents in the next 12 months.

AT&T has had numerous outages by trying to maintain its existing wireless network in the face of an exponential traffic increase generated by Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone. Additionally, the exclusivity window is closing, and this is no time to have increased downtime.

However, a high-level contact indicates that AT&T's management will let the strike occur because it will highlight the discrepancy between union and non-union benefits. A long-term strike has the potential to hurt the company by increasing churn, but if it is short lived, it will result in an operating expense benefit of 2 cents to 4 cents to EPS over the next 12 months.

While this small contribution wont have a significant impact on valuation, the stock is likely to close the gap to $27 for safe 5% trade. The expired union agreement covers 112,000 employees, of which 80,000 are focused on the landline business. Considering the migration away from landlines to mobile, it should be no surprise that the company wants to reduce costs in this non-strategic area.

According to the CWA, the sticking points are 1.) AT&T is trying to shift a portion of its health care costs to employees, and 2) the company wants to end retirement health care coverage and pensions for new hires. The union benefit packages, however, are not comparable with those of competitors or non-union management. This is why the company believes a strike will result in the shift of public opinion away from the union.

3. JOSB and BBBY Are Retail Standouts

Gary Morrow
4/8/2009 11:52 AM EDT

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers ( JOSB) is up over 15% after reporting record results for fiscal 2008. Earnings per share increased 17%, to a record $3.17 vs. $2.72 for 2007. The stock has responded extremely well to the news with a powerful gap-higher open.

JOSB (Nasdaq) -- Daily
Jos. A. Bank
chart
TradeStation

JOSB is now well above its previous 2009 highs set in January with the help of surging volume. The breakout today has left behind strong support near both the January multiweek top and the previous April highs. The January support area is between $31.50 and $30.85, while the previous April high is $30.70. A light-volume pullback to this area would provide a low-risk buying opportunity.

I expect this rally to carry JOSB up to $40 in the next few weeks. The basing action during the previous three weeks will provide solid footing for further gains. The high-volume breakout today is a strong first step.

Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY) is a top gainer on the Nasdaq this morning. The stock is up over 20% following last night's fourth-quarter report. An upgrade this morning from JPMorgan has attracted buyers as well. As a result, today's breakout move is being fueled by the heaviest positive volume in 10 years.

BBBY (Nasdaq) -- Daily
Bed Bath & Beyond
chart
TradeStation

BBBY began today with a huge gap higher open, pushing it well above the five-week consolidation pattern it had been working through since the November dive. The stock now has a very stable base from which to work, with strong support between $27 and $28.

I expect BBBY to make a run at is 2008 highs just above $34 in the next few weeks. A light-volume pullback before this re-test would be a buying opportunity. A drop back down to the $28 may not be in the cards. It's likely that BBBY finds support above that area while consolidating today's huge gains. I'm not in favor of reaching out to a 20% one-day gainer.

4. Out of KBR; Adding to RIMM

Scott Rothbort
4/8/2009 11:49 AM EDT

This morning I booked some gains in KBR ( KBR) and added to our positions in Research In Motion ( RIMM). I believe RIMM has more room to grow and run. It is quite possible the stock makes another move toward the mid-$70s or beyond.

5. Pulte-Centex

Jim Cramer
4/8/2009 6:44 AM EDT

The long-awaited consolidation in housing is at last taking place, between Pulte ( PHM) and Centex ( CTX), and it is hugely bullish for this horrid group. ... That will help the housing index (HGX). When combined with TARP for insurers, it could blunt the downturn, although not stop it...

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This article was written by a staff member of RealMoney.com.

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