Stock Market News for August 15, 2014 - Market News

Markets ended in the green as Russian president's comments eased concerns related to geopolitical tensions. This, along with positive earnings results, offset jitters over downbeat European growth numbers. Moreover, dismal initial claims data turned out to be positive for the market as it eased sooner-than-expected rate hike fears. Trading volume was very low, making it the second-lowest full trading session of the year.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose about 0.4% to close at 16,713.58. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) also increased 0.4% to close at 1,955.18. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 4,453; rising just over 0.4%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined 3.7% to settle at 12.90. A total of 4.7 billion shares were traded on Thursday, lower than the five-day average of 5.4 billion. Advancers outpaced declining stocks on the NYSE. For 65% stocks that advanced, 31% declined.

On Thursday, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that Russia will try its best to stop the conflicts in Ukraine. He also said that there is a need for 'consolidation and mobilization', but not at the expense of confrontation with other countries. The comments helped ease concerns about the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Meanwhile though, it was also reported that Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine were standing near the Ukraine border. Earlier, the Ukraine government had announced that they would not allow the Russian trucks to cross their border.

In Gaza, the Israel and the Palestinians agreed to extend the ceasefire settlement by another five days. Before Thursday, they were maintaining a 72-hour ceasefire agreement proposed by the Egyptian government. Meanwhile, the U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. will continue with their airstrikes over rebels in ISIS. He also mentioned that the situation in Mount Srinjar improved impressively.

Separately, GDP report from the Eurozone was dismal and that affected the US markets negatively in the initial hours. The European Union's statistics office reported that second quarter GDP growth was flat in Europe. It also missed the markets' expectations. Recession in Italy and contraction of German economy were the main reasons behind the stagnant GDP growth.

However, the dismal GDP data had little effect by the end of the day on US markets. Economic data was also dismal in US, as initial claims jumped more than expected for the week ending Aug 9. According to Labor Department, jobless claims increased 21,000 to 311,000 in the previous week. The consensus estimate had forecasted intial claims to be 295,000. Nonetheless, investors grew hopeful that dismal data will deter the Fed from raising rates earlier than forecasted.

Coming to the company news, Shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. ( BRK.A ) crossed the $200,000 mark for the first time since its debut. The shares gained 1.6% to finish at $202,850. On the other hand, share of Cisco Systems, Inc. ( CSCO ) dropped 2.6% after announcing that it will curtail 6,000 jobs.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ( WMT ) reported second quarter profits and net sales of $4.1 billion and $119.3 billion, respectively. The earnings and the net sales were up 0.6% and 2.8% year over year. These were also in line with expectations. However, the retailer lowered current year earnings per share guidance from $5.10-$5.45 to $4.90-$5.15. Shares of Wal-Mart rose 0.5%.

Shares of Kohl's Corp. ( KSS ) gained 3.3% after posting second-quarter fiscal 2014 earnings of $1.13 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.07 by 5.6% and prior-year quarter earnings by 9%. Perrigo Company's ( PRGO ) shares jumped 7.3% after reporting robust fourth quarter results. Fourth-quarter fiscal 2014 (ended Jun 28, 2014) earnings of $1.74 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.55. Fourth quarter earnings were up 11% year on year.

The Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 sectors. The sector gained 1.2%. Key healthcare stocks from the sector such as Pfizer Inc. ( PFE ), Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( ALXN ), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( REGN ) and Merck & Co. Inc. ( MRK ) rose 1.8%, 3%, 1.4% and 1.6%, respectively. 9 out of 10 S&P 500 sectors gained on Thursday.

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

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

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