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S&P 500 Aims At Record As Wall Street’s Winning Streak Rolls On


Wall Street's records keep falling, and the S&P's record close of 1565 may be the next milestone in site. Both the Dow and S&P 500 have risen for seven straight sessions, and the S&P is now within less than 10 points of that milestone.


Not much influence in either direction is likely to come from economic data this morning, with no major reports on the calendar. At 7:30 a.m. New York time, the National Federation of Independent Business is out with its monthly small business sentiment index for February, expected to register a slight rise. And the Labor Department will issue its January JOLTS report at 10 a.m., the monthly measure of job opportunities and labor turnover, at 10 a.m. It's also a very light day for corporate earnings.


Costco (COST) is one of the few companies that IS on today's earnings calendar, and has already issued its fiscal second quarter report. The warehouse retailer earned $1.10 per share for its second quarter, excluding certain items, four cents above estimates. Costco was helped by higher sales and more revenue from membership fees.


Urban Outfitters (URBN) is also among our stocks to watch, reporting fourth quarter profit of $0.56 per share, one cent below estimates, though revenue did exceed consensus and its profit margins were higher. The retail chain has been helped by less discounting.


VeriFone (PAY) chief executive officer Douglas Bergeron is stepping down, with chairman Richard McGinn succeeding him on an interim basis. The maker of credit card payment systems has formed a search committee to seek out potential successors. Bergeron has been CEO since 2001, but said the time is right for new leadership.


Yum Brands (YUM) says same-store sales in China rose 2 percent in February and 20 percent in the first quarter. Analysts had thought that comparable sales in China for the KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut parent would fall by nearly nine percent during the month. Sales had been hit last year by a food safety scare in that country.


Rambus (RMBS) has appointed director Eric Stang as chairman and announced a reduction in the size of the chipmaker's board of directors.


Cruise industry stocks like Royal Caribbean (RCL), Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL), and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) may be in focus today as a three-day industry conference gets underway in Miami. Seven industry executives will be talking about the state of cruising, especially in light of the recent issues involving the Carnival Triumph.


Diamond Foods (DMND) reported fiscal second quarter profit of $0.05 per share, excluding certain items, one cent below estimates. Revenues were also short of consensus as nut sales weakened, although the company also saw operating expenses fall.


Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is in the news this morning, with British authorities launching an investigation into HP's allegations of accounting improprieties at Autonomy prior to its 2011 acquisition of the U.K. business software maker.