Home-improvement retailer Lowe's reported its fiscal first-quarter profit reached $540 million, up from $527 million a year earlier. Cold spring weather had affected the company's sales of outdoor products, but the improving housing market has helped to compensate. "The trends in pro are related to improvements in the housing market ... as people feel a little bit wealthier and they have more equity in the house, they are more apt to invest in the home," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Scot Ciccarelli.

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