11:50 AM New York – U.S market indexes kept upward bias and investors focused on international markets and domestic earnings. Wal-Mart earnings declined for the fourth quarter in a row and the company blamed harsh weather and cut in food stamps.
Stocks on Wall Street edged higher after Facebook struck a $19 billion deal to acquire WhatsApp.
S&P 500 index increased 5.64 to 1,834.38 and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 13.13 or 0.3% to 4,251.27.
Employers are avoiding the layoffs despite harsh weather conditions and a long cold weather spell.
Weekly jobless claims declined in the last week ending on February 15 by 3,000 to 336,000, the Labor Department reported today.
In a separate report the department said consumer price index increased 0.1% in January after rising 0.2% in December. From a year ago, prices increased 1.6%.
Prices excluding food and energy commodities, known as core price index increased 0.1% and rose 1.6% from a year ago.
The core price increase on an annual basis was the smallest in seven months.
The department survey estimated food price increased 0.1%, men’s apparel prices fell the most in five years, air fares decreased 2% and automobile prices declined.
Consumer price index, a measure of inflation increased 1.5% in 2013, down from 1.8% in 2012 and in both years the index has lagged the Fed’s target rate of 2%.
In London trading, FTSE 100 index slid 0.3% or 17.95 to 6,778.76 and in Frankfurt the DAX index declined 1% or 97.72 to 9,562.33.
In Paris, CAC 40 index fell 0.2% or 8.56 to 4,332.54.
U.S. Stocks in Review
Facebook Inc (FB
) declined 2% to $66.62 after the company agreed to acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion and dilute current shareholders by 8% and investors worried that the expensive acquisition may dilute the company earnings.
BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY
) soared 6% to $9.53 after the Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp lifting hopes that the once dominant messaging company may find a traction in emerging markets and drive earnings.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc (WMT
) declined 1.4% to $73.82 after the largest retailer reported 21% decline in last quarter earnings to $4.4 billion. Earnings per share fell to $1.34 from $1.67 in the quarter a year ago.
For fiscal 2014, the retailer reported earnings per share fell 3% to $4.88 from $5.01 and the company said online sales increased 30% to $10 billion in the year.