Investor Beat: Retail Bounces Back

The Commerce Department released retail sales figures today for March, which were up 1.1%, the biggest increase in 18 months. Could these numbers mean that the rough times for the retail sector are finally nearing the end?

On Monday's Investor Beat, host Alison Southwick and Motley Fool analysts Evan Niu and Taylor Muckerman discuss the forces driving retail upward last month. One of the big drivers was automobile sales and auto parts, partly because of the record high average age of cars on the road going into this past winter, and partly because of the severe winter this year, causing more cars to break down. Taylor looks through the automakers, and some recent recalls they've had to issue, and gives his picks for investors in the sector today.

One retail component that did not fare well last month was electronics. Evan discusses the seasonality of the space and notes that March is often slow after the Christmas and Valentine's Day catalysts, and he points to some upcoming devices that investors and consumers alike should keep an eye out for.

Then the guys discuss four stocks making moves on the market today. Shares of Twitter were on the move today, after a handful of the company's C-level executives announced they would not be selling their shares of the company when the lock-up period on employee shares expires on May 5. Goodrich Petroleum saw shares skyrocket 30% today, after the company announced that it had completed its well in Baton Rouge under budget, and that the well was producing a strong flow rate that was 98% oil. Shares of F5 Networks saw a boost to shares today, after receiving an upgrade from a Stifel Nicolaus analyst. And Chinese solar cell producer JA Solar was up today, after the company raised its shipments estimates for the first quarter.

And finally, Evan and Taylor highlight what they're watching on the market this week. Evan points to Splunk, a machine data engine that could be a play on the coming "Internet of Things," that has sold off dramatically along with the rest of the tech sector recently. Meanwhile, Taylor is looking at CSX Corp., which will be reporting earnings tomorrow after a brutal winter, to see how strongly they were affected by the harsh weather.

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