Closing Update: Stocks Mostly Higher on Greek Pact, Jobless Claims Surprise

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U.S. stocks finished slightly higher Thursday as Greek political leaders reached a tentative agreement on austerity moves, setting the stage for the country to secure around $170 million in new funding and averting a bond default next month.

Word of the deal began leaking out shortly before the U.S. markets opened, lifting equities although momentum was rather limited with defensive positions dominating during much of the session. European finance ministers were meeting in Brussels today to examine specific terms of the pact while banks and other private holders of Greek debt still must finalize a deal on writing off up to 70% of the value of bonds ahead of a March 20 deadline for the nation to refinance its debt. The Greek parliament votes Sunday on the austerity measures.

The Bank of England today announced a third round of quantitative easing, pumping another 50 billion pounds ($79 billion) into British economy. The central bank also decided to keep its bank lending rate at a record-low 1%. The European Central Bank, also meeting today, made no changes in its policies.


Closer to home, new jobless claims last week were fewer than expected with 358,000 people filing for unemployment insurance benefits during the week ended Feb. 4, the Labor Department said today. That was 15,000 fewer than last week, and 12,000 below the 370,000 new claims that experts polled by Bloomberg News had forecast. The four-week moving average of claims fell to 366,250, the lowest level since the end of April, 2008.

In company news, five of the nation's largest banks have agreed to pay about $26 billion to end an investigation of alleged abuse of mortgage borrowers in foreclosure procedures, the U.S. Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a battery of state attorneys general. Included in the settlement are Citigroup ( C ), Bank of America ( BAC ), Wells Fargo ( WFC ), JPMorgan Chase & Co. ( JPM ) and Ally Financial (ALLY), the former GMAC mortgage unit.

Commodities were broadly higher today. March gold settled $9.70 higher at $1,739 an ounce. Crude oil also finished higher, with the March contract adding $1.10 to trade around $99.80 a barrel, briefly topping $100 this morning. Brent futures expanded their margin over NYMEX comparables, rising 1.15% to $118.57 a barrel for March crude. March natural gas settled 2.9 cents higher at 2.477 per 1 million British Thermal Units.

Here's where markets stood at end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 6.51 (+0.05%) to 12,890.46

S&P 500 up 1.99 (+0.15%) to 1,351.95

NASDAQ Composite up 11.37 (+0.39%) to 2,927.23

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei down 0.15%.

Hang Seng up down 0.04%.

Shanghai Composite up 0.09%.

FTSE-100 up 0.28%.

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) IPSU, Exploring a sale of its interest in Wholesome Sweeteners Inc.

(+) CYAN, Fiscal Q3 EPS was $0.20 vs. $0.00 a year ago. Revenues climb 71%.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) IRBT, Guides FY12 EPS of $0.75 to $0.95%; Street at $1.45 a share.

(-) PZZI, Reports $0.01 Q2 EPS vs. $0.06 last year. Sales flat at $10.3 million.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.



This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: BAC , C , JPM , WFC

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