U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, with optimism stemming from news of a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine, a pick-up in oil prices and merger activity news. Economic data was weaker than expected and might keep a check on gains. Retail sales fell in January for the second straight month, while weekly jobless claims jumped more than expected. Shares of Orbitz Worldwide and Expedia surged after Expedia said it will buy the rival for about $1.6 billion, further consolidating the online travel industry. The S&P 500 opened 8 points, or 0.4%, lower at 2,077. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 33 points, or 0.2%, to 17,895. The Nasdaq Composite added 33 points, or 0.7%, to 4,833 at the open.
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