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Chevron buys right to explore for Gulf oil
What's happening with CVX:
Chevron paid top dollar for the right to explore oil and gas blocks off the coast of Texas, the U.S. Department of the Interior said, while BP Plc (BP) decided not to participate even before the U.S. government temporarily banned it from new federal contracts. The company paid $17.2 million for a block, the top bid for a single tract. The lease sale racked up $133 million in bids. ConocoPhillips (COP) submitted the most high bids, 62, worth $52 million overall. Chevron was No. 2, with 28 bids worth $56 million. The auction highlighted the growing importance of deep and ultra-deep exploration in Gulf of Mexico waters, of 116 tracts up for grabs in this latest leasing round, 70 are in water depths of 800 meters or more, and 35 in water depths of 1,600 meters or more.

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Housing recovery could help Toll Brothers earnings
What's happening with TOL:
Recent data showed improvement in the housing market. The National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index jumped 5.2% to 104.8 in October, a four year high. It's the 18th straight monthly increase for the forward-looking indicator. The trends varied by region with the Northeast seeing some impact from Superstorm Sandy. This provides a very nice backdrop for Toll Brothers earnings which are expected Tuesday before the market open. The average estimate of analysts is for profit of 24 cents per share, a rise of more than twofold from the company's actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. For the year, analysts are looking for earnings of 66 cents per share on revenue of $1.82 billion.

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Limited Brands looks for happy holiday season
What's happening with LTD:
Limited Brands appears to be poised for a profitable holiday shopping season. The company reported a November same-store sales increase of 5 percent which was above analysts' expectations of a 3.1 percent rise. The operator of Victoria's Secret, Pink, and Bath & Body Works specialty stores said its total November sales increased to $922 million from $872.6 million. Nationwide sales for the November-December holiday season look set to rise 4.1 percent this year after a 5.6 percent increase in 2011. An extra weekend and online shopping are expected to help same-store sales in December. Limited Brands now sees total December comparable sales up in low-single digit range. The impact of Sandy on November comparable sales was about 1-2 percentage points according to the company.

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General Motors sees auto sales cruise to multi-year highs
What's happening with GM:
The U.S. auto industry is poised to report November sales which cruised to another four-year high, a sign that the domestic market has returned to health even while Europe and Asia sales falter. Industry executives interviewed ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show said November results should continue the year's big gains. Some analysts estimate November sales could hit an annualized selling pace of 15.2 million cars and light trucks marking the strongest single monthly showing since 2008. Next year, U.S. sales are projected to reach between 14.5 million and just over 15 million cars and light trucks, a third consecutive year of growth. U.S. sales this year are projected to hit 14.4 million vehicles.

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AutoZone drives into earnings spotlight Tuesday
What's happening with AZO:
AutoZone will drive into the earnings spotlight on Tuesday before the market open. The average estimate of analysts is for profit of $5.40 per share, a rise of 15.4% from the company's actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. The consensus estimate has remained unchanged in the past month, but is down from $5.45 three months ago. AutoZone is expected to beat last year's reported revenue of $1.92 billion with a reading of $2.02 billion for the quarter. For the year, analysts are projecting earnings of $27.58 per share, a rise of 17.5% from last year with revenue for the fiscal year expected to rise to $9.24 billion from $8.60 billion in the previous year.

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