Stocks inch higher as Greece remains in focus

@CNNMoneyInvest February 8, 2012: 4:55 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks edged higher Wednesday as investors remained focused on Greece, where the government is scrambling to secure more bailout funds and avoid a default.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 6 points, or less than 0.1%, to end at 12,884. The S&P 500 (SPX) added 3 points, or 0.2%, to 1,350. The Nasdaq (COMP) rose 12 points, or 0.4%, 2,916.

Given the lack of U.S. economic data Wednesday, investors continued to monitor developments in Greece, where talks on austerity reforms have been delayed several times this week.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is meeting with the leaders of the three political parties that make up his interim government. The officials are discussing a draft of proposed spending cuts, including layoffs and pension reforms, that are a precondition for Greece to receive more bailout money.

Greece needs to finalize the program soon to pave the way for a second bailout of €130 billion from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. Without these funds, Greece could miss a €14.5 billion bond redemption in March.

Finance ministers from the 17 nations that use the euro currency will meet Thursday to discuss the situation in Greece, according to a spokesman for Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Meanwhile, Greece is also negotiating with its creditors in the private sector over a writedown and debt exchange. There were conflicting reports on the ECB's willingness to participate in a restructuring of the Greek bonds it holds.

"Everyone is waiting for Greece to accept the austerity program and move ahead," said Peter Cardillo, market strategist at Rockwell Global Capital. "It's just a question of time."

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Cardillo said stocks could pull back once an official agreement is reached. But eliminating the threat of a "disorderly default" will ultimately help the market move higher, he added.

"The market has discounted the fact that Greece is headed for an orderly default, which takes the pressure off the euro and diminishes the fear factor," said Cardillo.

U.S. stocks moved higher Tuesday on optimism about a Greek debt deal.

Companies: Investors continued to tune in to quarterly corporate results on Wednesday.

Following the market's close, Visa (V, Fortune 500) reported better-than-expected earnings of $1.45 per share for the first quarter. The company said revenue rose 14% to $2.5 billion on strong sales in its services, data processing and overseas operations.

Dow stock Cisco (CSCO, Fortune 500) also reported quarterly earnings after the close. The company earned 47 cents per share, topping analysts' expectations, on sales of $11.5 billion.

Groupon (GRPN) shares fell in extended trading after the daily deals site reported quarterly results that missed expectations.

Sprint Nextel (S, Fortune 500) reported a steep loss for the fourth quarter, shedding $1.3 billion, or 43 cents per share, which was even worse than its year-earlier loss of $929 million, or 31 cents per share. The company blamed the sales expense from its launch of the iPhone.

CNNMoney parent company Time Warner (TWX, Fortune 500) beat expectations on earnings and revenue. The media company reported fourth-quarter adjusted net income of $946 million, or 94 cents per share, an increase from the prior-year figure of $754 million, of 65 cents per share.

Time Warner also raised its dividend by 11% and announced a 4 billion share buyback.

CVS Caremark (CVS, Fortune 500) said that its revenue jumped 11% to a record $107 billion and its adjusted earnings rose 6% to $2.80 per share.

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Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) said its same-store sales jumped 9% in the fourth quarter, contributing to a 35% revenue boost, to $220 million, and a 34% surge in net earnings, to $13.6 million.

Western Union (WU, Fortune 500) reported an increase in fourth-quarter revenue of 5% to $1.4 billion. The 160-year-old money-sending company said that earnings rose 40 cents excluding a tax benefit, compared to 37 cents in the year-earlier quarter.

Polo Ralph Lauren (RL, Fortune 500) reported its most recent quarterly earnings, showing a 12% surge in same-store sales and a 17% jump in revenue to $1.8 billion compared to the year-earlier quarter.

Late Tuesday, Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) announced that four longtime board members, including the chairman, are leaving the company. The departures stemmed from board discussions about "why Yahoo! was not meeting either our own expectations or those of our shareholders," wrote Chairman Roy Bostock in a letter announcing the shakeup -- including his own departure.

Also, Caesars Entertainment (CZR), a casino entertainment provider, rose 71% in its first day of Nasdaq trading after raising $16 million through an initial public offering.

World markets: European stocks closed modestly higher. The DAX (DAX) in Germany added 0.2% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) gained 0.4%. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) ended little changed.

Asian markets ended with solid gains. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) spiked 2.4%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong increased 1.5% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) rose 1.1%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar was slightly higher against the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.

Oil for March delivery rose 30 cents to end at $98.71 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $17.10 to $1,731.30 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.98% from 1.97% late Tuesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,079.57 -42.44 -0.25%
Nasdaq 4,557.70 -11.93 -0.26%
S&P 500 1,996.74 -3.38 -0.17%
Treasuries 2.33 -0.03 -1.14%
Data as of 2:00am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 102.25 0.12 0.12%
Bank of America Corp... 16.01 -0.19 -1.17%
Facebook Inc 73.86 -0.78 -1.04%
Pfizer Inc 29.38 -0.11 -0.37%
Intel Corp 34.65 -0.14 -0.40%
Data as of Aug 28
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.06%4.28%
15 yr fixed3.17%3.24%
5/1 ARM3.52%3.41%
30 yr refi4.04%4.19%
15 yr refi3.15%3.18%
Rate data provided
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