Stocks Edged Up, Eyed on Greek Debt Talks

Stocks opened slightly higher on Monday on hopes that Greece will reach a deal with private creditors on lowering its debt. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently traded up 31.86 points at 12,752.34. The S&P 500 gained 5.44 point to 1,320.82. The Nasdaq Composite added 13.28 point to 2,799.98.

Germany and France pressed on Monday for a rapid deal between Greece and its private creditors that returns its soaring debt to sustainable levels and said they remained committed to a new bailout that is needed by March to avert a disastrous default.

The European Union imposed an oil embargo against Iran on Monday and froze the assets of its central bank, part of sanctions to pressure Iranian officials into resuming talks on the country’s controversial nuclear program.

Market participants are divided on whether the Federal Reserve will ease again, but have grown somewhat more optimistic about the economy, according to the January CNBC Fed Survey. About half of survey respondents believe there will be a third round of quantitative easing from the Fed in the next year, unchanged from October; 44 percent say it’s not in their forecast and 8 percent are unsure.

Takeover talk swirled around Research In Motion on Monday as investors and analysts pondered whether new Chief Executive Thorsten Heins had been appointed to lead a turnaround of the struggling phonemaker or prepare it for sale. Heins, who joined the Canadian company in 2007, took over the top job on Saturday when co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie finally bowed to investor pressure and resigned.

Halliburton (HAL) announced fourth quarter earnings of $921 million, or $1.00 a share when excluding one time items, in line with the Street’s expectations.

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