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An Illuminating Week

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It's been a pretty busy week, considering we're in mid-August. What have we learned?

For starters, watchers of the Retail sector can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now. Not that we saw stellar numbers across the board from earnings reports this week, but no companies who elicited concerns ahead of earnings look to be falling off a cliff. In fact, many companies such as Gap (GPS - Free Report) actually beat earnings estimates by a slim margin. And other big retailers like Target (TGT - Free Report) performed very well in the quarter, so perhaps there is some hope for upside in the 3rd and especially 4th quarters for the industry.

The U.S. jobs situation doesn't seem to be getting any better, but at least it's not getting any worse, which was the fear a couple weeks ago. And with the Housing industry seemingly gaining a bit of traction -- although the July numbers weren't exactly great -- perhaps analysts can look toward the end of fiscal 2012 and beyond with a little less gloom and doom than they had previously.

The Dow has performed well this week, and the NASDAQ and S&P 500 have held their own as well. And although revenues and guidance for many companies this earnings season have much to wring our hands over, overseas markets -- China and the Eurozone, particularly -- have not piled on with any additional bad news. At least not this week.

This morning, specialty retailer Hibbett Sports (HIBB - Free Report) hit the ball solidly in its Q2 earnings report, with higher profits and guidance. J.M. Smucker (SJM - Free Report) spread a relatively sweet earnings beat, though its guidance for fiscal 2013 was at the low end of a consensus of forecasts.

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