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While you were sleeping: Cisco jumps

13 Feb 15

Wall Street climbed, bolstered by gains in shares of Cisco and a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine, and optimism about Greek debt talks.

"A ceasefire is moderately good news," Espen Furnes, who helps oversee US$85 billion at Storebrand Asset Management in Oslo, told Bloomberg. "The tensions are still there, so we'll have to see how this plays out. The earnings season so far has been pretty good. With Greece, it looks like we're slowly heading to an agreement on debt before the deadline."

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index ended the session with a 0.8 percent gain from the previous close. The FTSE 100 Index rose 0.2 percent, while France's CAC 40 Index added 1 percent, and Germany's DAX Index climbed 1.6 percent. Greece's Athens Stock Exchange General Index jumped 6.7 percent.

"Whether it is Greece or Ukraine, the market is giving the policy makers the benefit of the doubt that some of these talks will materialise in real progress," Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at JP Morgan Funds in New York, told Reuters.

The next step for Greece are talks in Brussels on technical issues with its international creditors, known as the troika, ahead of another gathering of European finance ministers on Monday.

Wall Street also moved higher. In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.39 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index increased 0.70 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.89 percent.

Shares of Cisco led the advance in the Dow, soaring 9.3 percent, after the company posted results that exceeded expectations.

"We delivered this strong performance despite a volatile economic environment," Cisco CEO John Chambers said in a statement.

Those gains outweighed a plunge in shares of American Express, last 6 percent weaker. The company said its US co-brand and merchant acceptance agreements with Costco will end on March 31, 2016.

"Taking a very disciplined approach, we began discussions on a possible renewal with Costco well in advance of the contract expiration," Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, said in a statement. "However, we were unable to reach terms that would have made economic sense for our company and shareholders."

Companies continue to find value. Shares of Expedia jumped, last up 16.7 percent, after it agreed to acquire Orbitz Worldwide. Shares of Orbitz climbed 21.7 percent.

Expedia can "remain the eight hundred pound gorilla in the industry," Daniel Kurnos, an analyst at Benchmark Co, told Bloomberg. "There are going to be a ton of synergies."

Shares of rival TripAdvisor also rose, last up 23.9 percent.

The US consumer is showing signs of a cautious start to 2015 when it comes to shopping. Retail sales fell a larger-than-expected 0.8 percent in January, after a 0.9 percent decline in December, a Commerce Department report showed.

"There is a risk of a temporary soft patch for the economy as it is somewhat surprising the consumer has stopped spending their savings from gasoline prices," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, told Reuters.

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