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Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow -0.09%, S&P +0.05%, Nasdaq -0.09%, Oil +1.47%, Gold +0.81%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose slightly to $99.78 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) rising to $1,677.50 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 1.93% to settle at $32.29.
Today’s markets were up because:
1) Greece. Greek debt talks are said to be progressing, but so far officials have not announced a deal to cut debt — a key condition for Greece to receive additional bailout funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. At issue is an agreement to write down the value of Greek bonds owned by the private sector by 50 percent. Without the bailout money, there is little doubt that Greece will be unable to make the 14 billion-euro payment it owes on bonds that will reach full maturity on March 20, in which case Greece would enter into a disorderly default.
2) Fed. With no major economic news today, and few major companies slated to report quarterly results, all three major indexes hovered around breakeven throughout most of the day. While Europe will remain in focus, particularly Greece, this week will be busy with U.S economic news as the Federal Open Market Committee meets. The Federal Reserve plans to introduce changes to its communications policies to the public following its two-day meeting, a move that would make it easier for the central bank to push through another round of asset purchases later this year. The government also releases its first estimate of fourth-quarter economic growth on Friday.
3) Oil and gas. Oil and gas companies were among the day’s biggest gainers after Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) announced it would cut natural gas production in order to drive up prices. NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) and Consol Energy (NYSE:CNX) added around 3 percent, Chesapeake Energy and Cabot Oil and Gas (NYSE:COG) were up more than 6 percent, and Southwestern Energy (NYSE:SWN) jumped more than 10 percent.
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