US markets open higher, as mixed economic data and earnings results temper sentiment

<p>Market and sectors</p>

Market and sector news

US indices opened marginally higher on positive sentiment regarding a Ukraine ceasefire and optimism regarding talks with Greece.

Oil prices also rebounded towards US$56 (£36.45) a barrel, after a two-day decline, as a weakened dollar helped offset supply glut concerns. Reuters reported that volatility in the oil market has jumped to the highest level since the financial crisis, with prices swinging in a wide range this month, following the near 60 per cent crash between June and January.

Economic news

Data released by the US Commerce Department on Thursday, showed consumer spending was up just 0.1 per cent in January, below analyst expectations for a
0.4 per cent gain. Despite petrol prices declining 39.5 per cent since June, consumer spending has been soft in the past two months with households using the
extra income to pay down debt and boost savings, reported Reuters.

The US Labor Department released a mixed weekly report on unemployment with an additional 25,000 Americans filing new unemployment claims last week, higher than market consensus. However, the underlying trend remained consistent with a strengthening labour market.

Eurozone finance ministers failed to reach a deal with Greece on Wednesday, with talks set to resume Monday with little time to waste as Greece's current bailout
programme ends on February 28th.

Company news

Magazine publisher Time reported a bearish sales outlook for 2015, on weaker circulation and forecast three to six percent drop in revenue this year, worse
than the consensus forecast of a two per cent decline.

Cisco reported better than expected results with earning per share at 53 cents for the last quarter, beating estimates by two cents. Revenue also rose above
forecasts, and the company raised its dividend to 21 cents per share, up two cents.

TripAdvisor reported stronger revenue above forecasts thanks to higher advertising and subscription sales. However, quarterly profits were two cents
lower than market consensus at 35 cents per share.

The market reacted positively to news that online travel agency Expedia would buy rival Orbitz Worldwide for $1.38 billion. Orbitz's shares climbed 22.5
percent in premarket trading, while Expedia's shares rose nearly ten per cent to US$85.99. This follows a series of acquisitions by Expedia including Travelocity
in January and the Wotif Group in November 2014.

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