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Kevin Matras   
Profit from the Pros
By Kevin Matras
Executive Vice President
Zacks Investment Research

Markets Close Slightly Lower As Big Earnings Week Begins

Stocks closed slightly lower yesterday ahead of some key earnings.

Microsoft was one those companies that investors were looking forward to, and they didn't disappoint. After the close they reported record earnings and posted a positive EPS surprise of 23.78% and a positive sales surprise of 7.21%. Their cloud business continues to impress. And it looks like their spectacular growth is likely to continue. They were up more than 6% in after-hours trade.

Apple, Facebook, and Tesla report today after the close.

There was a bit of disappointment yesterday when it sounded like another stimulus package wouldn't get done until mid-March. Many were hoping we would get one in February after the House said they planned on voting for it then. But the Senate pushed their timeline out further.

In the grand scheme of things, however, a few extra weeks shouldn't matter. As long as it doesn't drag out for months like the last one.

In the meantime, with more big cities and states easing restrictions and letting businesses open, that's a big plus which will put many people back to work and boost the economy.

In other news, we saw same store retail sales increase via the Redbook report which showed a y/y gain of 3.9%, up from last month's snapshot of 2.2%.

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose an unadjusted 1.1% m/m vs. views for 0.8%. On a y/y basis it's pacing at 9.1% vs. last month's print of 8.0% and estimates for 8.4%.

And Consumer Confidence rose to 89.3 vs. last month's 87.1 and the consensus for 88.5.

Today we'll get MBA Mortgage Applications, Durable Goods Orders, the Survey of Business Uncertainty, and the State Street Investor Confidence Index.

We'll also get the FOMC Announcement and the Fed Chair Press Conference. While interest rates are expected to remain unchanged, it will be interesting to see if any of their language has changed or if they have anything new to reveal on monetary policy and economic support.

Stocks continue to trade near their all-time highs.

And as the outlook for the economy continues to improve, that should send stocks even higher.

See you tomorrow,

Kevin Matras

Executive Vice President, Zacks Investment Research


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