U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday after strong earnings from Cisco Systems Inc. helped boost the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 100 points. A ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine also helped lift investor sentiment, even as Greece was unable to reach a deal with the European Union to remain in its bailout program.
The Nasdaq Composite Index rose Thursday to its highest closing level since March 2000, and the S&P 500 traded near all-time highs, up more than 1 percent for 2015 and just two points shy of a closing record.
The Dow, which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, gained 110.24 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 17,972.38; the S&P 500 stock index added 19.95 points, or 0.96 percent, to end at 2,088.48. The Nasdaq Composite rose 56.43 points, or 1.18 percent, to finish at 4,857.61.
Cisco Boosts Dow; Expedia Adds to Nasdaq's Gains
Dow component Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) helped boost the blue-chip index after the company’s stock jumped more than 9 percent Thursday to close at $29.46. The network equipment maker's earnings topped Wall Street forecasts, boosting the stock to its largest one-day gain since May 2013.
Cisco also helped push the tech-heavy Nasdaq to its highest level since March 2000 following the opening bell. The Nasdaq received a boost as well from Expedia Inc. after the online travel giant announced plans Thursday to buy rival Orbitz Worldwide Inc. for $1.3 billion. Shares of Expedia jumped more than 14 percent Thursday to close at $89.57, while shares of Orbitz skyrocketed more than 21 percent to end at $11.72 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Apple Closes At All-Time High
Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose more than 1 percent Thursday to close at a record high of $126.46, a day after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said that shares of the tech giant should be trading at 20 times earnings per share of their current level. That would value the tech giant at $216 per share, sharply exceeding the record high of $127.48 the company hit Thursday. This would translate into the tech giant being worth nearly $1.3 trillion.
The world's most valuable company ended Tuesday’s trading session reaching a new milestone: a market capitalization of more than $700 billion. Apple closed Thursday with a market cap of more than $728 billion.
Oil Prices Edge Higher, Boosted By Weaker Dollar, Spending Cuts
Oil prices closed higher Thursday following two straight sessions of losses. A weaker U.S. dollar and spending cuts from oil companies helped U.S. crude futures end the session above $50 a barrel. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, added $2 to end at $57 a barrel for March 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, added more than 2 percent to close at $51.21 a barrel for March 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Wall Street's Day Ahead: Europe GDP
The European Union will release its initial gross domestic product figures for the fourth quarter on Friday, as will Germany, the largest economy in Europe. Economists forecast Germany's economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2014 from 0.1 percent in the third quarter, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Wall Street expects the eurozone's economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent rate in the fourth quarter, unchanged from the previous quarter.