Stocks ended mostly higher on Monday, led by gains in the tech and health care sectors. Although a lack of new economic data made for mostly smooth sailing in the stock market today, shares of Home Depot (NYSE:HD), World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE:WWE), and J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) each ended as notable laggards. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI), for its part, added 20 points, or 0.1%, to end at 16,511.
Home Depot stock lost 1.1% -- ending as the worst performer in the Dow today -- as investors got the pre-earnings jitters. First-quarter results certainly won't send the stock rocketing higher if climatic conditions are any indication. The harsh winter weather seriously affected economic activity and especially walloped the housing market, which Home Depot relies on. Investors should be optimistic, however, about what the number of housing starts in April means for home improvement retailers. Developers broke ground on 13.2% more projects in April than they did in March, as springtime reignites the rapid growth in real estate we've seen in the recovery.
As if Friday's 43% smackdown weren't enough, World Wrestling Entertainment shares went on to lose another 2.8% on Monday after a conference call with management confirmed what Wall Street already knew. Vince McMahon -- the WWE CEO who often plays a central role in the wrestling performances that define his company -- said the deal WWE reached with NBCUniversal last week made management "a little disappointed." The market was severely disappointed, however, as the broadcasting deal, worth around $200 million per year, was far less than expected.
Lastly, J.C. Penney stock shed 3.8%, pulling back after Friday's explosive 16.3% rally on the heels of first-quarter results. But Wall Street research firm Maxim Group gave shares an unflattering evaluation today, saying it thought the stock would trade "perhaps at irrationally high levels, in the direction of momentum" over the short term. Ignoring short-term prognostications for a moment, J.C. Penney's first quarter was downright impressive, so much so that my colleague Rich Duprey even declared Penney's "back from the dead." Still, it's always nice to see a company start actually turning a profit before giving it a full vote of confidence.
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