Stocks Head Higher; Cease-Fire Eyed
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The markets hit session highs after Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, potentially ending a deadly eight-day conflict. Traders also mulled two important economic reports.
As of 2:50 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 45 points, or 0.35%, to 12834, the S&P 500 climbed 2.4 points, or 0.17%, to 1390 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 9.8 points, or 0.33%, to 2926.
Trading was fairly light on Wednesday ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.
Egypt's foreign minister announced a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel in the early afternoon hours. Equities hit session highs, while oil futures fluctuated in a wide range.
The benchmark oil contract recently rose 79 cents, or 0.91%, to $87.54 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline advanced 1.3% to $2.748 a gallon.
The eurozone debt crisis is now in its third year and continues to garner attention across world trading desks. Greece is perhaps the quintessential example of how complicated it is to craft a solution. The country has taken on intense, and highly-unpopular, austerity measures in a bid to gets its debt under control. In return, it has received billions of euros in aid from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that has helped it stave off a default. Private creditors also took a haircut on Greek debt.
However, the austerity measures have also weighed heavily on the country's economy, making it even more difficult for the country to get its debt levels down in the long run. Tiring of the seemingly endless aid payments, the EU, IMF and European Central Bank have held talks in recent weeks on what path would be best to get the country's debt down. The policymakers have reportedly quibbled over whether they should take another writedown on Greek debt or whether to extend the timeline until which the country should have its debt-to-GDP level below 120%. Without an agreement, the group can't release Greece's next aid tranche and without the aid, Greece is once again at risk of defaulting.
"Ultimately, we like many others see no way Greece can return to debt sustainability without further write downs of outstanding debt, including obligations in the hands of the public sector," Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG wrote in a note to clients.
Market participants are also set to get a handful of important economic reports.
New claims for unemployment fall to 410,000 from an upwardly revised 451,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to fall to 410,000 from an initially reported 439,000. The Labor Department said Hurricane Sandy is still distorting the weekly readings.
A final reading on consumer sentiment for the month of November fell to 82.7 from 84.9 earlier in the month, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. The index was expected to fall slightly to 84.5.
In metals, gold rose $3, or 0.17%, to $1,727 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.02% to 2510, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.04% to 5746 and the German DAX dipped 0.06% to 7169.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 climbed 0.87% to 9223 and the Chinese Hang Seng rallied 1.4% to 21524.