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Market Recap: Stocks Move Higher on Data, Financials

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Markets closed up on Wall Street today: 

  • Dow +0.36 percent
  • S&P+0.49 percent
  • Nasdaq +0.67 percent
  • Oil -0.04 percent
  • Gold -0.16 percent

On the commodities front: 

  • Oil (NYSE:USO) fell slightly to $100.55 a barrel
  • Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,657.30
  • Silver(NYSE:SLV) rose 0.12 percent to settle at $30.58

(Related: Shale Glut Driving Down Electricity Prices)

Today’s markets were up because:

1) Data: The government released housing, unemployment claims, and inflation figures today, delivering mixed messages about the state of the economy. Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to 352,000, but a separate report showed housing starts declined 4.1 percent in December as falling home prices and ongoing foreclosures continued to hamper an industry-wide recovery.

The government’s key measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, showed prices to be relatively unchanged from November to December.

2) Europe: Investors will stay focused on Europe this week as Greece continues negotiations with private creditors on the size of the writedown they will accept on their sovereign debt holdings. Yesterday, news that the International Monetary Fund would seek to increase the size of its war chest helped markets rally, while Spanish and French bond auctions today drew solid demand, calming fears about Europe’s ability to fund its debt.

3) Banks: Bank of America led the Dow higher today after posting fourth-quarter net income of $2 billion and revenue that topped expectations. Morgan Stanley posted a loss, but not so deep as analysts had expected, and shares spiked over 5 percent. The news helped lift Citigroup and JPMorgan about 1 percent after they filed disappointing results earlier this week.

[Editor’s note: the above is a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]

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