Five retailers raise guidance, sales looking better

Following on JC Penney's strong holiday sales news, a group of retailers reported holiday sales for the November-through-December period were generally better than anticipated. More importantly, five companies raised guidance for the quarter (Most retailers have a November-through-January quarter.):

1) American Eagle: sales were down 2 percent, better than "mid-single digit" declines expected for the quarter, and they guided higher,

2) Aeropostale: sales fell 9 percent, not as bad as feared, and fourth quarter loss will be less than previously indicated,

3) Stage Stores: sales rose 6.5 percent,

4) Cato : sales were up 6 percent, better than the 4.5 percent gain expected,

5) Zumiez: sale jumped 8 percent.

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You've got to believe that lower gas and better employment numbers were factors in these better guidance numbers.

An Aeropostale store
Susana Gonzalez | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An Aeropostale store

Even those that did not raise guidance reported sales better than expected:

1) Barnes and Noble: sales up 1.7 percent,

2) Pier One: revenues rose 8.2 percent,

3) Urban Outfitters: sales jumped 4 percent.

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Signet Jewelers saw sales rise 3.6 percent and reaffirmed guidance, with management saying, "we resisted deep promotions."

Costco core comps were up 8 percent, versus estimates of up 6.6 percent. Lower gas sales brought down the ticket a bit.

I'm eager to hear from Macy's and Target, which did release holiday sales numbers this time last year.

Read MoreJC Penney soars, but it's too soon to declare victory: Analyst

Elsewhere, S&P futures surged 15 points shortly after 9 p.m. ET last night. The head of the Chicago Federal Reserve, Charles Evans, gave a speech saying it would be a "catastrophe" to raise rates. That is no surprise from Evans the uber-dove, but this year he is a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, which likely explains the outsized reaction.

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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