The stock markets in the United States rallied today after Greece reached an agreement with the European Union to extend a financial aid for four months. Greece made a commitment to meet certain conditions.

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The Dow Jones and the S&P 500 climbed 0.86% and 0.61%, respectively. The NASDAQ rose 0.63% while the Russell 2000 gained 0.22%.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece promised to honor its debts. He said, “This is a very positive outcome.”  He added that the agreement was very important because it is the first step in the process of rebuilding trusts between Greece and its counterparts.

On the other hand, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said, “We agreed on four months under conditions. Greece agreed to submit an initial list of measure it would take and the institutions will check if it is sufficient.

[drizzle]Meanwhile, a Greek government official commented, “Greece has turned a page. We have avoided recessionary measures.”

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking into the possibility of allowing stock exchanges to start less-regulated markets that would enable small companies to raise money easily.

SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said such “venture exchanges” could boost the interest of investors in stocks with low market values that trade less frequently compared with other equities. She added that investors may also become less interested on brokers who make markets.

White told reporters that the SEC is evaluating measures to improve the liquidity of the securities of small companies. “It’s too early to tell what exactly we’ll do, but we’re very seriously taking a deep look at that,” she said.

Meanwhile, the number of oil and gas rigs continued to decline. According to Baker Hughes drillers stopped the operations of 48 rigs, bringing down the total number of U.S. rig count to 1,310 this week.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 18,140.44 (+0.86%)
  • S&P 500- 2,110.30 (+0.61%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,955.97 (+0.63%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,230.66 (+.22%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,490.53 (+0.64%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,915.20 (-0.13%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,050.64 (+0.44%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 18,332.30(+0.37%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 24,832.08 (+0.19%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,522.32 (+0.65%)

Stocks in Focus

The shares of Mohawk Industries increased more than 6% to $184.26 per share after the company reported outstanding financial results for the fourth quarter. The company’s earnings increased 27% to $167 million (excluding unusual charges) or $2.27 per share on $1.95 billion in revenue. Its earnings exceeded the $2.22 per share consensus estimate.

The stock price of Intuit climbed more than 6% to $96.72 per share after reporting a strong demand for Turbo Tax, its online tax-preparation software. The company also raised its online subscriber growth for the full year in the range of 975,000 to 1 million.  The company posted lower-than-expected losses of $0.06 per share compared with the $0.13 per share estimated by analysts.

Rocket Fuel plummeted more than 26% to $10.82 per share after reporting disappointing financial results for the fourth quarter. The shares of the company were also downgraded by analysts at Oppenheimer.

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