US stocks edge higher amid Greek hope (Lead)

February 10th, 2012 - 6:56 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Feb 10 (IANS) US stocks edged higher Thursday amid Greek’s long-awaited austerity deal and better-than-expected jobless claims.

Greek political leaders Thursday reached a deal over austerity measures in order to prevent debt default, Xinhua reported.

Finance ministers from the euro zone countries were expected to meet later Thursday to discuss the plan and decide whether to release the bailout funds.

The news helped to improve investors’ sentiments and eased concerns about the Greek debt problems.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank decided to keep its key interest rate unchanged at 1 percent Thursday, erasing uncertainties about the monetary policy.

Also easing euro zone concerns, the Bank of England Thursday said the central bank would buy an additional 50 billion pounds of assets, mostly British government bonds, in an effort to ease credit and boost the economy.

On economic front, the US Labor Department said initial jobless claims dropped 15,000 to 358,000 last week, suggesting the job markets continued to recover.

As for shares, beverage maker PepsiCo Inc said that it forecasted a lower-than-expected 2012 earnings and would cut thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, Apple’s stock rose 3.46 percent to $493.17 per share, as investors bet a very strong iPhone 4S sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 6.51 points, or 0.05 percent, at 12,890.46. The Standard & Poor’s 500 edged up 1.99 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,351.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 11.37 points, or 0.39 percent, to 2,927.23.

As for dollar, the US dollar fell against most major currencies in late New York trading Thursday as Greek leaders agreed on a austerity plan which may prevent the country from defaulting.

The dollar index dropped 0.07 percent to 78.58 Thursday.

As for oil, crude prices rose Thursday as Greece reached the austerity deal for receiving international rescue fund and US job data beat estimates.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery gained $1.13, or 1. 15 percent to settle at $99.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent crude also rose $1.39, or 1.19 percent to $118.59 a barrel, the highest level since August.

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