Stocks hit fresh highs; Costco and investors dump AmEx

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Stocks were moving higher at midday Thursday. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) hit a fresh all-time high and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) hit a new high for 2015. The Dow (^DJI) was also higher.

Investors reacted to a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine, and shrugged off a lack of agreement between Greece and euro zone finance ministers over its debt.

Traders also took disappointing U.S. economic data in stride. The Commerce Department said retail sales declined 0.8% in January, more than the 0.5% decline economists were expecting. That was the second straight month of declines, raising concerns that consumers are not pumping savings on cheap gas back into the economy.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said jobless claims rose 25,000 to 304,000 in the week ended February 7. Economists were expecting to see 290,000 claims.

Among the biggest stock winners: Cisco Systems (CSCO) held the top spot on the Dow, surging more than 9% on strong earnings results.

Expedia (EXPE) and Orbitz (OWW) were both sharply higher on news that Expedia will buy its competitor for $ 1.3 billion.

Among the losers: American Express (AXP) after Costco (COST) said it would no longer accept American Express cards as of March 31, 2016. Costco accounts for 8% of American Express’ business. AmEx CEO Ken Chenault said in a conference call that the loss of the deal would hurt AmEx earnings for the next two years.

Apple (AAPL) struck a new deal with Pinterest to help customers find apps more easily among the more than 1.4 million available in the app store. Pinterest unveiled a new product, called App Pins, that will allow users to find apps without going to the Apple App Store.

And Disney (DIS) reportedly is close to raising Disney World ticket prices above $ 100 for the first time. According to The Tampa Bay Times and others, the one-day price of a ticket to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is about to hit $ 105. The other three Florida theme parks would go from $ 94 to $ 99.

Would that price increase keep you from going to Disney World? Post a comment below and let us know what you think.

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