The stock markets in the United States gained driven by the increase of oil prices today. The prices of Brent and WTI crude oil climbed by 4.62% to $56.66 per barrel and 4.25% to $50.51 per barrel, respectively.

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The market also benefited from the report of the Department of Labor indicating the employment situation in the United States is improving at a steady pace.

The agency reported that the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits were 278,000 for the week ended January 31. Economists expected 290,000 claims. The current claims are 15% lower than the number recorded in the same period last year.

A separate report from the Department of Commerce showed that the U.S. trade deficit expanded 17.1% to $46.6 billion, the highest level since 2012.  JP Morgan economic Michael Feroli commented, “It is not hard to come up with reasons for the weakness in today’s report—sluggish foreign growth and a strong dollar are the obvious ones

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On the other hand, Krishna Memani, chief investment officer at Oppenheimer Funds opined that investors are currently focusing on earnings, Greece and mergers & acquisitions (M&A). Memani said, “It’s more about the corporate outlook in the U.S. remaining good and the realization that while the Greek issue is important, it will eventually be resolved.”

Staples recently announced its definitive agreement to acquire Office Depot for $6.3 billion. Pfizer agreed to purchase Hospira for $17 billion.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17,878.84 (+1.16%)
  • S&P 500- 2,062.30 (+1.02%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,765.10 (+1.03%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,209.71 (+1.53%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,408.96 (-0.19%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,865.93 (+0.09%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 10,905.41 (-0.05%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 17,504.62 (-0.98%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 24,765.49 (+0.35%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,366.95 (-1.02%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Frontier Communications increased almost 6% to $7.70 per share on a report that it might acquire the landline assets of Verizon Communications for $10 billion. Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the companies will probably announce a deal this week.

Michael Kors Holdings dropped more than 2% to $69.77 per share after reporting same store sales in North America that missed the estimates of Wall Street analysts. The company reported a sales growth of 6% in the region compared with the 9.3% estimated growth. Analysts are concerned that the company may be slowing down in the largest market.

The shares of Keurig Green Mountain declined almost 5% to $115.30 per share after issuing weak earnings outlook for 2015. The company’s quarterly earnings of $0.88 per share on $1.39 billion in revenue were lower than the $0.89 in earnings per share on $1.46 billion in revenue consensus estimate.

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