Market Recap: Stocks Up But Thinly Traded as Greece Makes Slow Progress

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.26%, S&P +0.20%, Nasdaq +0.07%, Oil +1.88%, Gold +1.36%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $98.73 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,748.30 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 1.41% to settle at $34.23.

Hot Feature: Precious Metals Remain Strong as Greece Nears Deadline

Today’s markets were up because:

1) Greece. Again. Until the (hopefully) soon-to-be twice bailed out nation is able to satisfy its troika of lenders — the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund — markets will continue to be slaves to the government that makes U.S. lawmakers look effective. Today, stocks opened lower amid concerns that Greek politicians might not reach an agreement on reforms needed to secure fresh bailout money and avoid a default, but markets bounced back after reports suggested that progress was being made in negotiations.

2) Consumers. The Federal Reserve announced this afternoon that consumer borrowing in the U.S. rose more than forecast in December, driven by demand for auto and student loans. Analysts say consumers’ willingness to take on debt signals a growing confidence in the economy. Of course, Americans could also be taking on debt because gains in employment have yet to push wages high enough for consumers to continue shopping.

3) Earnings. BP (NYSE:BP) shares fell on Tuesday, though the oil company reported increased fourth-quarter profits and raised its dividend. Investors remain wary of how much the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will cost following a trial that is set to begin later this month. UBS (NYSE:UBS) shares also declined after the Swiss bank posted a 75 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit. Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) shares spiked after the fast-food operator beat earnings, thanks to growth in China, while Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) shares also climbed higher after topping earnings and sales estimates for the fourth quarter. Disney (NYSE:DIS) shares were up in anticipation of earnings after the bell.

BONUS: Big Banks Play Let’s Make a Deal

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Knapp at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com