Market Minute: Gap Gets Its Fill; Moody's Weighs Downgrades on Big Banks

Gap finds buyers in its stores and on Wall Street, and Moody's takes aim at some leading banks. Those and more are what's in business news Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) snapped their six day losing streak, gaining 66 points Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 14. But the market day was dominated by the technical glitch that halted trading in all Nasdaq stocks for more than three hours. After trading finally resumed the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) jumped 39 points.

In this Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011, file photo, a shopper leaves the Gap store in Freeport, Maine. Clothing retailer Gap Inc. said Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012,  that July sales at stores open at least a year jumped 10 percent, easily surpassing analysts' expectations, and said second-quarter earnings would rise from last year's results.   (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
Pat Wellenbach/AP
Earnings throughout the retail industry have been pretty dismal, but Gap (GPS) is bucking the trend. It posted a 25 percent net increase, raised its outlook for the rest of the year, and boosted its dividend payout. The company's Old Navy division led the advance.

But teen retailer Aeropostale (ARO) reported a drop in a key measure of sales, and gave a disappointing forecast for the year. It plans to close as many as 40 stores this year.

Some of the nation's biggest banks could come under pressure after Moody's said it might downgrade its debt ratings on Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Morgan Stanley (MS). Moody's cites the uncertainty that might develop if the government reduces its support for bondholders in emergency situations.

The Wall Street Journal reports a probe into a potential bribery scandal involving Microsoft (MSFT) and foreign officials is expanding. The paper says the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into allegations of kickbacks made in Russia, China and other countries.

For the third time this summer, Apple (AAPL) has bought a small mapping company. Apple suffered a major embarrassment when its own mapping app was widely panned last year.

Pandora Media (P) is getting thumbs down from investors. The Internet radio service posted a big jump in revenue, but its loss widened from a year ago, and its earnings outlook was weaker than expected.

And famed whiskey maker Brown-Forman will spend $100 million to build a new distillery. It's the first all-new plant for the maker of Jack Daniel's since prohibition.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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