Market Wrap: Stocks Rise Sharply on Tech, Ukraine Deal

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Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks ended sharply higher Thursday, with a rally in technology stocks leading the Nasdaq to a 15-year high, while a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine also eased tensions.

The day’s gains were broad, with eight of the 10 primary SP 500 sectors rising, and the SP information technology sector rose 1.6 percent in its third straight daily advance. Cisco Systems (CSCO) climbed 9.4 percent to $29.46 in the network equipment maker’s biggest one-day jump since May 2013 after earnings and revenue beat expectations.

TripAdvisor (TRIP) soared 22.5 percent to $82.40 a day after revenue topped forecasts. Fellow online travel company Expedia (EXPE) jumped 14.5 percent to $89.57. Earlier, Expedia agreed to buy Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) for about $1.33 billion.

With 76 percent of the SP 500 having reported, about 71.4 percent of companies have topped earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data, while 56.8 percent have topped on revenue. That compares to the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.

Overseas, leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed a deal to end fighting in eastern Ukraine, potentially removing a concern for global investors, although the pact remained fragile. The news contributed to oil prices advancing 4.9 percent, which in turn lifted the SP energy index 1.3 percent.

“There’s definitely a feel-good situation leading from the reduction in geopolitical risk, while the rise we’re seeing in the energy sector is really helping the overall benchmark,” said Michael Mullaney, chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust Co. in Boston.

U.S. economic data was tepid, as initial jobless claims rose more than expected in the latest week, while retail sales barely rebounded in January. In addition, business inventories rose less than expected in December.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 110.24 points, or 0.62 percent, to 17,972.38, the Standard Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) gained 19.95 points, or 0.96 percent, to 2,088.48, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 56.43 points, or 1.18 percent, to 4,857.61.

The Nasdaq ended at its peak of the session, the highest level for the index since March 2000, while the SP 500 ended about 0.1 percent below closing record, set on Dec. 29.

Tesla Motors (TSLA) dropped 4.7 percent to $202.88 after it missed fourth-quarter sales targets and analyst profit expectations.

American Express (AXP) shares dropped 6.4 percent to $80.48 as the biggest drag on the Dow after it said Costco Wholesale (COST) would stop accepting its cards in the United States in April 2016, after a renewal agreement couldn’t be reached.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 2,403 to 685, for a 3.51-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,931 issues rose and 806 fell, a 2.40-to-1 ratio.

The SP 500 posted 69 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 123 new highs and 20 new lows.

About 6.72 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, below the month-to-date average of 7.31 billion.

What to watch Friday:

  • The Labor Department reports import and export prices for January at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The University of Michigan releases its preliminary assessment of February consumer sentiment at 10 a.m.

These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results.

  • Brookfield Asset Management (BAM)
  • Exelon (EXC)
  • Heartland Payment Systems (HPY)
  • ITT (ITT)
  • J.M. Smucker (SJM)
  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB)
  • TransCanada Corporation (TRP)
  • Ventas (VTR)
  • V.F. Corp. (VFC)

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