Market Wrap: Stocks Rise Sharply on Tech, Ukraine Deal

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Richard Drew/AP
By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks ended sharply higher Thursday, with a rally in technology stocks leading the Nasdaq to a 15-year high, while a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine also eased tensions.

The day's gains were broad, with eight of the 10 primary S&P 500 sectors rising, and the S&P information technology sector rose 1.6 percent in its third straight daily advance. Cisco Systems (CSCO) climbed 9.4 percent to $29.46 in the network equipment maker's biggest one-day jump since May 2013 after earnings and revenue beat expectations.

TripAdvisor (TRIP) soared 22.5 percent to $82.40 a day after revenue topped forecasts. Fellow online travel company Expedia (EXPE) jumped 14.5 percent to $89.57. Earlier, Expedia agreed to buy Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) for about $1.33 billion.

With 76 percent of the S&P 500 having reported, about 71.4 percent of companies have topped earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data, while 56.8 percent have topped on revenue. That compares to the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.

Overseas, leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed a deal to end fighting in eastern Ukraine, potentially removing a concern for global investors, although the pact remained fragile. The news contributed to oil prices advancing 4.9 percent, which in turn lifted the S&P energy index 1.3 percent.

"There's definitely a feel-good situation leading from the reduction in geopolitical risk, while the rise we're seeing in the energy sector is really helping the overall benchmark," said Michael Mullaney, chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust Co. in Boston.

U.S. economic data was tepid, as initial jobless claims rose more than expected in the latest week, while retail sales barely rebounded in January. In addition, business inventories rose less than expected in December.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 110.24 points, or 0.62 percent, to 17,972.38, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) gained 19.95 points, or 0.96 percent, to 2,088.48, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 56.43 points, or 1.18 percent, to 4,857.61.

The Nasdaq ended at its peak of the session, the highest level for the index since March 2000, while the S&P 500 ended about 0.1 percent below closing record, set on Dec. 29.

Tesla Motors (TSLA) dropped 4.7 percent to $202.88 after it missed fourth-quarter sales targets and analyst profit expectations.

American Express (AXP) shares dropped 6.4 percent to $80.48 as the biggest drag on the Dow after it said Costco Wholesale (COST) would stop accepting its cards in the United States in April 2016, after a renewal agreement couldn't be reached.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 2,403 to 685, for a 3.51-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,931 issues rose and 806 fell, a 2.40-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 69 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 123 new highs and 20 new lows.

About 6.72 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, below the month-to-date average of 7.31 billion.

What to watch Friday:
  • The Labor Department reports import and export prices for January at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The University of Michigan releases its preliminary assessment of February consumer sentiment at 10 a.m.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results.
  • Brookfield Asset Management (BAM)
  • Exelon (EXC)
  • Heartland Payment Systems (HPY)
  • ITT (ITT)
  • J.M. Smucker (SJM)
  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB)
  • TransCanada Corporation (TRP)
  • Ventas (VTR)
  • V.F. Corp. (VFC)
The 7 Best Things to Buy in February
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Market Wrap: Stocks Rise Sharply on Tech, Ukraine Deal
If you're in the market for a new TV, now's the time to pounce. Not only are there post-Super Bowl sales, but the new models revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January means retailers are dropping prices on old models to make way for new goodies. According to, prices on HDTVs will drop by 60 percent or more this month.
Keep an eye out for emails, social media blasts and newspaper inserts advertising Presidents Day sales, which will take place on and around the holiday. This year's Presidents Day is Monday, Feb. 16, and you can expect notable discounts on myriad items, including furniture, apparel and home goods. Expect price drops as much as 60 percent to 90 percent off retail.
You may be dealing with snow delays and plowing trucks, but retailers have spring on the brain. Because they're eager to move sweaters, jeans, cardigans, outerwear, boots and the like off their shelves, they've marked down all of the above up to 80 percent off. That's good news for the buyer, who can still get plenty of wear out of their discounted winter apparel purchases throughout the rest of winter.
Speaking of winter merchandise, also expect to find deals on winter sports goods, including skis and snowboards. "Presidents Day is the last hurrah for ski resorts," says. "With the season winding down, this is a great opportunity to get gear for next year at up to 60 percent off."
Whether you're buying for yourself or someone else, post-Valentine's Day in February is the best time to buy a little bling. If you're OK waiting until after the holiday to buy, take advantage of the more robust sales that occur after Feb. 14. says that discounts range from 60 percent to 85 percent off the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
February is a low season for travel. Because demand for all things travel-related has decreased, you're apt to find excellent deals on flights, cruises, hotel accommodations and city attractions. You can also expect to find luggage on sale, making it an ideal time to upgrade your suitcases and carry ons.
As Americans groan and complain about the inconvenience of tax season, perhaps their spirits can be slightly lifted by the tax software deals happening right now. For example, TurboTax (INTU) announced it is offering 100 percent free filing this year on both federal and state taxes for 1040EZ/A filers. Tax software boxes, tax filing companies and online tax filing agencies will likely offer incentives to file with them throughout the month, as well.

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