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Market Update

U.S. Investors Focus on Earnings as Greece Faces Deadline

Author: Nichole Harper
Last Update: 1:04 PM ET February 19 2015

1:00 PM New York – U.S. stocks reversed earlier decline after earnings from Wal-Mart Stores, Priceline, Direct TV and Discovery Communications. High drama of Greek debt negotiations continued as finance ministers set a meeting on Friday to discuss the latest proposal.

Market indexes on Wall Street reversed morning decline and scaled higher as investors reviewed multi-billion dollar takeover offer from Ball Corp for can-maker Rexam and Greece’s debt talk high drama continued.

Seasonally adjusted weekly jobless claims declined 21,000 to 283,000 from the previous week revised claims of 304,000, the Department of Labor said today.

On Wall Street trading, Tollbooth Strategy Index gained 0.2% or 25.01 to 10,580.84.

S&P 500 index edged up 0.86 or 0.04% to 2,100.55 and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 19.96 or 0.4% to 4,898.65.

Crude oil futures declined for the second day in a row and fell 77 cents to $51.37 a barrel.

U.S. Movers

Ball Corporation dropped 2.3% or $1.77 to $75.39 after the metal packaging product maker agree to acquire U.K.-based rival Rexam Plc for about $6.85 billion or £4.43 billion. The transaction values Rexam at 610 pence per share, represents a premium of 36%

Rexam shareholders will receive 407 pence in cash and 0.04568 in new shares of Ball Corp per share of Rexam, a total of 628 pence per share.

The transaction is expected to close in the first-half of 2016.

Priceline Group Inc (PCLN) surged 8.2% or $92.04 to $1,215.03 after the online travel company reported revenues in the fourth-quarter ending in December climbed 19.5% to $1.84 billion form a year ago period.

Net income in the quarter jumped 19.5% to $451.8 million or $8.56 per diluted share compared to $378.1 million or $7.14 from the same quarter last year.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc (WMT) dropped 2.8% or $2.36 to $83.93 after the speciality retailer reported revenues in the fourth-quarter ending in December jumped 1.4% to $131.6 billion form a year ago period.

Net income in the quarter climbed 12.1% to $4.97 billion or $1.53 per diluted share compared to $4.35 billion or $1.36 from the same quarter last year.

The retailer said U.S. comparable store sales in the quarter rose 1.6% and at Sam''s Club without fuel increased 2%.

European Markets

Today Germany immediately rejected the loan extension proposal requested by Greece before the Friday’s deadline set by the Eurogroup of finance ministers.

Greece in a legal language 2-page letter requested a loan extension and reaffirmed its commitment to meet debt payment but for many fell short and did not go far enough on its promise to implement austerity measures and reform bureaucracy.

Greece is behind in it tax collection by at least one billion euros in January and the government is expected to run out of cash at the end of this month. Without the loan extension, Greece is likely to default on its international loans.

“The written document does not meet the criteria agreed in the Eurogroup on Monday,” German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said in a statement.

The Greek proposal calls for loan extension for six months but requests another set of “different terms,” Gavriil Sakellaridis, A Greek government spokesman said today.

In London trading, FTSE 100 index fell 0.2% or 10.79 to 6,887.29 and in Frankfurt the DAX index edged up 5.39 to 10,966.39.

In Paris, CAC 40 index gained 0.3% or 15.45 to 4,814.48.

Deutsche Boerse AG jumped 1.2% to €69.90 after the German stock exchange operator reported net revenues in the fourth-quarter soared 15.1% to €544.5 million, up from €473 million a year ago period.

Net profit in the quarter climbed 79.8% from a year ago to €224 million compared to €124.6 million and diluted earnings per share advanced to €1.21 from €0.68.

Deutsche Börse forecasted net revenue in fiscal 2015 to grow between €2.1 and €2.3 billion.

The board of the exchange operator proposed stable dividend of €2.10 per share from a year ago period.

Nestle SA increased 0.8% to 71.70 Swiss francs after the Switzerland-based food and beverage maker reported sales in the year ending in December fell 0.6% to 91.61 billion francs from 92.16 billion francs a year ago period.

Profit in the year surged 42.7% from a year ago to 14.90 billion francs compared to 10.44 billion francs and diluted earnings per share climbed to 4.52 francs from 3.13 francs.

For fiscal 2015, Nestle forecasted organic growth of 5% and margins and underlying earnings per share in constant currencies.

Asian Markets

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Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc