The stock markets in the United States rebounded today after suffering declines over the past few days. The stock price of energy companies slid as oil prices declined.

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The WTI crude oil fell 6% to $48.33 per barrel while the Brent crude oil dropped more than 5% to $56.02 per barrel.

The Department of Commerce said the U.S. GDP expanded at an annual rate of 2.2% in the fourth quarter. It is the third estimate of the agency’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. The estimate was lower than the 5% GDP expansion in the third quarter.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis explained that the deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter was primarily caused by an increased in imports, a decrease in federal government spending, and a decline in non-residential fixed investment. It was also caused by a larger decline in private inventory investment that was partly offset by accelerations in PCE, as well as state and local government spending.

[drizzle]Market observers suggested that U.S. equities are trading higher because investors are speculating that the Federal Reserve could delay raising the interest rates until the latter part of 2015 because of weak economic data.

Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen outlined a “gradualist approach” in increasing the interest rates.

In her prepared speech for a conference in San Francisco today, Yellen said, “Like most of my [Fed] colleagues, I believe the appropriate time has not yet arrived, but I expect that conditions may warrant an increase in the federal funds target sometime this year.”

Yellen also emphasized that she is “cautiously optimistic” the labor market is likely to improve further in the coming months. Her conviction is based on the context of moderate growth in total output and spending.

Yellen added that she would be ‘uncomfortable raising the federal funds rate” if economic data show that the wage growth, core consumer prices, and other indicators of underlying inflation pressures weakened.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17,712.66 (+0.19%)
  • S&P 500- 2,061.02 (+0.24%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,891.22 (+0.57%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,240.41 (+0.68%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,679.03 (+0.25%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,855.02 (-0.58%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,868.33 (+0.21%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 19,285.63 (-0.95%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 24,486.20 (-0.04%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,971.70 (+0.55%)

Stocks in Focus

Altera surged more than 28% to $4439 per share. The stock benefited from the report that Intel is negotiating to buy Altera. The stock price of Intel climbed more than 6% to $32 per share today.

The shares of BlackBerry gained 1.72% to $9.46 per share after the company reported a surprise profit for the fourth quarter. The Canadian smartphone manufacturer achieved adjusted earnings of $20 million or $0.04 per share. Analysts expected the company to report losses of $0.04 per share.

The stock price of Carnival increased 6% to $47.12 per share after reporting first quarter earnings that beat the consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts. The cruise company posted earnings of $0.20 per share, better than the $0.10 expected by analysts. Its revenue was $3.5 billion.

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