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Market Update

U.S. Stocks Rally on Tech Stocks, Deals and Easing Tensions in Europe

Author: Nichole Harper
Last Update: 12:43 PM ET February 12 2015

12:40 PM New York Stocks surged ahead and Nasdaq flirted with record high after earnings empower market rally on Wall Street. Easing Ukraine and Greece related tensions in Europe also supported market advance. U.S. dollar gained as retail sales fell and weekly jobless claims rose.

Stocks in New York accelerate gains as market indexes flirt with records.

Investors stepped up increase market exposure after tensions in Europe eased and ministers in the euro zone averted a confrontation with Greece and resolved to meet again in a week to strike an agreement.

Domestic earnings, easing tensions in the euro zone and weakening outlook for oil prices empowered stock rally in New York.

Seasonally adjusted weekly new jobless claims increased 25,000 to 304,000 from the previous week revised claims of 279,000, the Department of Labor said today.

Retail sales adjusted for seasonality and calendar declined 0.8% to $439.8 billion from December but climbed 3.3% from a year ago month, announced the Department of Commerce.

Sales at gasoline stations and apparel retail stores fell on declines in prices.

In a separate report, the same department reported that inventories at the end of December rose 0.1% from November to $1,764.4 billion and climbed 3.9% from a year ago.

Sales declined 0.9% to $1,331.2 billion in December but jumped 0.9% from a year ago.

On Wall Street trading, Tollbooth Strategy Index jumped 1% or 102.15 to 10,435.12.

S&P 500 index climbed 14.36 or 0.7% to 2,082.84 and the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 40.44 or 0.8% to 4,841.77.

U.S. Movers

Expedia Inc (EXPE) surged 15.4% or $12.02 to $90.20 after the online-travel booking service provider agreed to acquire rival online travel company Orbitz Worldwide Inc. for $12 per share in cash, including brands CheapTickets, ebookers and HotelClub for about $1.38 billion.

Kellogg Company (K) declined 3.5% or $2.29 to $64.01 after the ready-to-eat cereal and convenience food maker reported net sales in the fourth-quarter ending in December edged up 0.3% to $3.51 billion from a year ago period.

Net in the quarter swung to a loss of $293 million or 82 cents per diluted share compared to profit of $818 million or $2.24 from the same quarter last year.

European Markets

European markets traded higher after finance chiefs in the euro zone and Greece fail to sign a deal but appear to get closer to a compromise and avert confrontation.

Finance ministers agreed to postpone the decision after a meeting of political leaders this week in Brussels.

In addition, leaders of Germany and France and Russia and Ukraine agree on cease fire deal but how long the agreement will last is a suspect.

In London trading, FTSE 100 index rose 0.3% or 22.18 to 6,840.35 and in Frankfurt the DAX index climbed 1.8% or 191.20 to 10,943.31.

In Paris, CAC 40 index jumped 1.3% or 59.84 to 4,739.22.

Sweden lowered its benchmark rate to negative 0.1% and also said it begin government bond purchase program.

Sweden will join Denmark and Switzerland to impose negative rate ahead of European Central Bank plan to purchase 60 billion of bonds a month from the next month.

Sweden is a member of the European Union but it is not in the euro zone.

Rio Tinto Plc climbed 3.2% to 3066.32 pence after the U.K.-based second largest iron ore and resource company reported group revenues in the year ending in December declined 6.8% to US$47.66 billion from US$51.17 billion a year ago period.

Net profit in the year surged 78.4% to US$6.53 billion compared to $3.66 billion and diluted earnings per share climbed to 351.2 cents from 197.3 cents in the same period a year ago.

Separately, the mining company plans to conduct buy-back tender under proposed US$2 billion capital return program and repurchase A$500 million of shares.

Rio Tinto said net debt at the end of year decreased to US$12.5 billion from US$18.1 billion in December 2013 while adjusted total borrowings at December 2014 were US$24.9 billion.

Total S.A gained 1.1% to 23.31 after the France-based oil and gas producer said sales in the fourth-quarter ending in December plunged 19% to $52.51 billion from $64.98 billion a year ago period.

Net in the quarter swung to a loss from a year ago to $5.66 billion compared to profit of $2.23 billion.

The oil and gas producer said hydrocarbon production in the quarter dropped 2% to 2.23 million barrels of oil equivalent per day compared to same period a year ago.

The company announced quarterly dividend of 0.61 per share and annual dividend of 2.44 per share, a growth of 2.5% from a year ago period.

Asian Markets

Weaker yen, rising earnings and a growing stock buyback announcement lifted Nikkei to the highest level in 7 years.

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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