Ukraine Accord Drives a Relief Rally

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Stocks sold off initially today as earnings season heated up, but progress on the Ukraine crisis drove a relief rally.

The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) initially fell as low as 1856.72 in early trading but turned higher to finish up 0.1% at 1864.84.

Officials from Russia, Ukraine, EU, and US made an agreement that delayed economic sanctions, which implies clear progress toward a peaceful resolution.

And while the US stock reaction was positive, Russian stocks really put on a show, with the Market Vector Russia ETF Trust (NYSEARCA:RSX) up 6.1%. Eastern European stocks were also stellar performers.

We saw quite a few major earnings reports yesterday afternoon and this morning.

Flash memory producer SanDisk ( SNDK ) was up a whopping 9.4% after delivering a substantial earnings beat Thursday after the close.

General Electric ( GE ) reported revenues that were slightly below consensus but earnings that were better than expected, which lead traders to send the stock 1.7% higher.

Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG ) delivered a disappointing earnings number, but its revenues were well ahead of expectations and guidance was strong. However, the company announced on its conference call that it would raise its prices to combat high beef costs, an shares plummeted, finishing down 5.9%.

Investment banks Goldman Sachs ( GS ) and Morgan Stanley ( MS ) were also standouts, each exceeding consensus estimates by wide margins. Both stocks rallied today. We also saw solid beats from Baker Hughes (BHI), BlackRock (BLK), and PepsiCo (PEP).

On the downside, Google (GOOG), which reported after the close Thursday, sold off 3.7% as it missed Wall Street's top- and bottom-line estimates.

IBM (IBM) also traded lower as investors were unimpressed with its revenues despite better-than-expected full-year guidance.

Overall, US market activity was constructive, with a healthy intraday rebound in the small-cap Russell 2000 (INDEXRUSSELL:RUT) and the biotech sector and a downward move in utilities stocks -- a combination indicating risk-friendliness on the part of traders. On the negative side, housing stocks were weak.

In economics news, initial jobless claims for last week were 304,000, coming under the 315,000 consensus forecast. Continuing claims were 2.74 million vs. Wall Street's forecast of 2.78 million.

The April Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook was 16.6, which was ahead of the 10.0 reading expected, as well as last month's 9.0 reading.

Tomorrow's Financial Outlook

We'll be in the heart of earnings season next week, and Monday will be a busy day with reports from the likes of Halliburton (HAL), Hasbro (HAS), Celanese (CE), and Netflix (NFLX).

In US economics, March Chicago Fed National Activity Index will be reported at 8:30 a.m. ET, followed by March Leading Economic Indicators at 10:00 a.m.

Twitter: @Minyanville



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.



This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: SNDK , GE , CMG , GS , MS

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