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The "Wall Of Worry" Grows Taller

A New York Stock Exchange trader.
Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com
A New York Stock Exchange trader.

Stocks refuse to drop, but the "wall of worry" gets higher. Bond yield backups, dollar strength have all become topics in the past week.

Still, the S&P closed just shy of its highest levels since November yesterday. The good news is that we have not recently had any days of big point declines on heavy volume. The bad news is that demand seems somewhat light.

The bottom line is, for the moment, the markets are confounding bears and holding up remarkably well.

Elsewhere:

1) We continue to wait for an announcement about which banks will be allowed to repay the TARP first. Morgan Stanley and American Express have told CNBC they expect to be among the first banks to repay. Reports last night indicate that nine to ten banks would be approved for repayment in the first wave; besides Morgan Stanley and AmEx, most lists include Goldman Sachs, State Street, US Bancorp, and JP Morgan.

Prudential has joined Allstate and Ameriprise in declining to accept TARP funds. Instead, they have raised $2.4 billion in a stock and bond offering.

2) A couple companies had positive comments regarding their second quarter.

a) Texas Instrumentsis up 5 percent pre-open after significantly boosting its Q2 revenue and earningsguidance above the Street's forecasts.

Citing strength in Asia and improved mobile phone chip sales, the semiconductor manufacturer expects earnings to be $0.14-$0.22 vs. prior guidance of $0.01-$0.15, and revenues of $2.3 billion-$2.5 billion vs. an earlier forecast of $1.95 billion-$2.40 billion.

b) Men's Wearhouse surprises the Street with an earnings beat and strong Q2 guidance. Q1 earnings came in 10 cents ahead of estimates, as a substantial amount of cost cutting helped boost the retailer's bottom line.

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Cost cuts also continue to drive its Q2 earnings guidance of 56-60 cents ahead of the 56-cent estimate, as the men's apparel chain expects same-store sales to fall 4%-6% in the current quarter.

3) Talbots posted a narrower-than-expected Q1 loss, as margins improved. Same-store sales were weak, falling 27 percent. Current conditions continue to be challenging for the women's apparel retailer, with a narrower-than-expected loss expected in the second quarter. Additionally, the company announced it was cutting 20 percent of its workforce.

4) Truck and engine manufacturer Navistar trades down 9 percent pre-open. Q2 earnings of 63 cents drastically missed expectations of 94cents as sales at its commercial division lagged. Looking ahead, the company slashes its full-year earnings forecast to $2.80-$3.10 from $5.10-$5.60.

The 2009 outlook for industry truck and bus sales is also dramatically reduced as the "economic recover will take longer than had been originally expected."

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

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