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Stocks End Higher After Ukraine Deal, M&A Activity

Jeremy Glaser

U.S. Market
Stocks were higher today after a Ukraine cease-fire deal eased geopolitical concerns and investors eyed new economic data.

Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists agreed to a cease-fire agreement that should result in an end of hostilities by Sunday.

Initial unemployment claims rose by a larger-than-expected 25,000 to 304,000 last week. The less volatile four-week moving average of claims dropped by 3,250 to 289,750 in the week.

Retail sales fell again in January, dropping 0.8% from the previous month. The drop was driven by a 9.3% drop in gas station sales as oil prices continued their decline. However, even excluding gas sales were unchanged from the previous month.

At market close the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up 0.6%, 1.0% and 1.2% respectively.

Stocks on the Move
Expedia (EXPE) is buying rival Orbitz (OWW) for $1.3 billion. The $12 per share cash offer is a 25% premium to Orbitz’s Wednesday closing price. The move comes as Expedia tries to further consolidate the online travel agency market. Expedia shares rose over 14% on the deal.

Shares of Cisco (CSCO) were up over 9% after the firm struck an overwhelmingly positive tone in releasing fiscal second-quarter results. Performance during the quarter was at the high end of management's forecast, with revenue up 7% year over year. Cisco saw strength across several key markets during the second quarter, including switching (revenue up 11% year over year) and the data center segment (up 40%). Efforts to streamline the company produced solid profitability during the quarter. The gross margin expanded slightly versus a year ago to 61.7%, while the operating margin expanded nearly a percentage point to 28.4%.