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Crude oil prices surged on increased violence in Libya and central bank action in China. WTI crude oil futures for March delivery rose 4.5%. Brent crude prices rose nearly 5% on the day.
Dow: 17,884.88, +211.86, +1.20%
S&P 500: 2,062.51, +21.00, +1.03%
Nasdaq: 4,765.10, +48.39, +1.03%
The S&P 500 Volatility Index, the market's fear gauge, retreated 6.6%.
What Moved the Markets Today: Investors looked past the ongoing Greek debt drama and focused on a bounce in crude oil prices and a major acquisition in the pharmaceutical sector. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) announced it will purchase Hospira Inc. (NYSE: HSP) in a deal worth $17 billion, or $90 per share. The acquisition will give Pfizer access to Hospira's generic injectable drugs and biotech medicines.
On the economic data side, weekly U.S. jobless claims rose by 11,000 to 278,000 last week, a figure smaller than what economists expected. Tomorrow the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the monthly U.S. jobs report. Consensus expectations for the January unemployment rate stand unchanged at 5.6%.
Now, check out the other top market stories – plus get our new profit tip for investors:
- Hack Attack: Experts warned of a second possible hack attack on the U.S. healthcare system after the nation's second-largest health insurer, Anthem Inc.(Nasdaq: ANTM), reported it was recently infiltrated by hackers. The cybercriminals made off with sensitive data from roughly 80 million current and former customers, including names, street addresses, Social Security numbers, and personal income levels. Fortunately, no health procedure data was breached. Shares of Anthem were down slightly this afternoon.
- Sales Surge: Shares of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) were up 5.24% on news the company's price-cutting initiative and promotions helped draw 100,000 more customers than Wall Street analysts expected. The telecom firm also reported that quarterly revenue slipped less than expected. In the fall Sprint began an aggressive pricing strategy targeting customers of its larger rivals AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). The promotions did not focus on T-Mobile U.S. Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) customers, which spurred rumors that a potential merger could still be on tap.
- Streaming Profits: Shares of GoPro Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRO) were up 4.82% on news the camera company is planning to launch its own on-demand streaming channel through Roku. The company recently signed a similar partnership with Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox. Speaking of Microsoft, Money Morning Tech Expert Michael A. Robinson believes MSFT stock is poised for a huge bounce. To read why Microsoft stock is a steal today, check out his forecast here.
- Out the Door: Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal will be stepping down from her job in response to a humiliating data breach that exposed controversial emails about U.S. President Barack Obama from her office. The Hollywood titan's career spanned nearly 20 years at the iconic studio before the Sony hack. Pascal will be launching a new production venture at the studio. Shares of Sony Corp. (NYSE ADR: SNE) were up 3.39% on the day.
- Retailer Woes: Shares of Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: KORS) slipped 2.26% on the day. The luxury retailer posted strong third-quarter earnings, but offered a weaker profit outlook for the current quarter than expected. The company reported earnings of $1.48 per share, beating analyst expectations of $1.33 per share. The company offered a per-share earnings range of $0.89 to $0.92, which is lower than analysts' calls for $0.94 per share.