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Whirlpool shares jump on positive housing data

February 27, 2012
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NEW YORK—Whirlpool Corp shares jumped on Monday, as Lowe's reported better-than-expected results and fears generally eased somewhat about the housing sector.

Whirlpool, which makes large appliances like washing machines and refrigerators, has been hard hit as consumers pulled back spending on large-ticket items for their homes.

The Benton Harbor, Mich., company has cut jobs and costs to shore up results. But it is facing high costs for materials such as steel and copper as well as tough competition. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, the appliance maker's net income and revenue fell short of expectations.

However, on Monday, shares rose $5.02, or 7 percent to $76.31 in afternoon trading. Whirlpool's stock last reached that in July. The company's stock reached a 52-week high of $92 on April 27, 2011.

Investors could have been sending the stock up due to easing fears about the housing industry. Home-improvement retailer Lowe's Inc. reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results as homeowners spent more on projects, results that echo a report from its larger rival Home Depot Inc. last week.

Also Monday, a report that the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January to the highest level in almost two years helped allay concern about housing as well, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average up past 13,000 in afternoon trading.

The National Association of Realtors said its index of sales agreements rose 2 percent last month to a reading of 97, the highest since April 2010. A reading of 100 is considered healthy.

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