The stock markets in the United States fluctuated and eventually ended the trading lower today except the NASDAQ, up 0.37%. The Dow Jones & S&P 500 declined by 0.24% and 0.11% respectively.

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Investors are speculating that Greece will be able to reach a deal regarding its bailout negotiations after submitting its proposal with the European Union. The Greek government requested a six months extension of its current bailout program.

Germany rejected the proposal of the Greek government citing the reason that it is not substantial for a solution.

“In truth it aims at bridge financing, without meeting the requirements of the program. The letter does not meet the criteria agreed upon in the Eurogroup on Monday,” according to Martin Jaeger, spokesman for the German Finance Ministry.

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In the United States, the Department of Labor reported that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits declined by 21,000 to 283,000 for the week ended February 14. The figure showed that the labor market continues to improve.

On the other hand, the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators increased 0.2% in January, lower than the 0.3% growth expected by economists polled by Bloomberg.

Commenting on the market trends, Paul Zemsky, head of multi-asset strategies at Voya Investment Management told Bloomberg, “Sentiment is cautiously optimistic. Markets are either making new highs or going to pre-2008 highs.”

Zemsky added, “The backdrop is still pretty good for equities and people are still climbing the wall of worry. With interest rates low around the world, you’re not going to find many other places with better returns.”

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve said it would maintain the low interest rates for a longer period.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17,985.77 (-0.24%)
  • S&P 500- 2,097.45 (-0.11%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,924.70 (+0.37%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,227.91 (0.00%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,488.08 (+0.64%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,888.90 (-0.13%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,001.94 (+0.37%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 18,264.79(+1.18%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 24,832.08 (+0.19%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,522.32 (+0.65%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Wal-Mart declined more than 3% to $83.52 per share. The retail giant reported its fourth quarter financial results showing earnings of $1.61 per share that beats the $1.53 per share consensus estimate. However, its revenues of $131.6 billion missed the $132 billion expected by analysts.

The company also announced its plan to increase the wages of approximately 500,000 full-time and part-time works at Wal-Mart U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs to $10 per hour by February 1, 2016.

The shares of Priceline Group surged more than 8% to $1,218.28 per share. The online travel company reported outstanding financial results for the December quarter. Its GAAP earnings increased from $7.14 per share to $8.56 per share. The company said its gross travel bookings climbed 17% to $10.7 billion.

Tesoro Corporation gained almost 4% to $90.35 per share today. The board of directors of the company recently approved the naphtha isomerization and mixed xylenes projects that would improve the production of clean products at its refinery at Anacortes, Washington.

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