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As earnings season starts, attention is shifting from the macro to the micro. Lots of company news today.First, the scoreboard:

Dow: 12,462.4, +69.8, +0.6%
S&P 500: 1,292.1, +11.4, +0.9%
NASDAQ: 2,702.5, +25.9, +1.0%

And now, the top stories:

  • Overall it was a pretty quiet day in the global markets.  Imports to China slowed substantially in December, stoking fears of an economic hard landing.  However, the Shanghai Composite surged 2.7% over night.  Perhaps the bad economic data will encourage policymakers to be more aggressive in their promised pro-growth policies.
  • Ratings agency Fitch reiterated its warning that it would likely downgrade a bunch of eurozone countries.  However, France is likely to be spared from the ratings rampage.
  • We saw a widespread risk-on rally in the markets today.  Silver led the metals up.  Mining stocks like Freeport-McMoran and Rio Tinto benefited.  The financials also staged a major rally with Bank of America and Morgan Stanley leading the way.
  • Investors breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Alcoa announced Q4 earnings that came in line with expectations, revenue that beat expectations, and guidance that reflect a growing global economy.  The stock barely budged today.  But at least it didn’t fall.
  • Two high-priced retailers provided guidance going in opposite directions.  Yoga-pants maker Lululemon boosted earnings guidance well above analysts’ estimates.  “Guests have responded exceptionally well to the robust assortment and bright colour palette for holiday, and momentum continues with the new spring product offerings,” said CEO Christine Day.
  • On the other hand, Tiffany & Co. sent out a warning, blaming slumping sales in the U.S. and Europe.
  • Netflix took a hit today after getting downgraded by Bank of America analyst Nat Schindler. This comes a day after the stock staged a face-ripping rally on after announcing plans to expand into the UK.
  • WebMD shares plummeted today after the company abandoned discussions to get acquired.  This is bad new for billionaire George Soros who recently disclosed a 6.1% stake in the company. Activist shareholder Carl Icahn is also a major holder of the stock.
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