Feb. 13 - Summary: U.S. stocks turned higher despite chilly retail and jobless data as investors bet the economy will warm up in the spring; Comcast bulks up with $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable. Airlines rise despite more snow cancellations. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street defied gravity, moving higher despite weak retail sales and a limping labor market. A disappointing outlook from Cisco did not hurt as expected. The Nasdaq is up six days in a row, with the rest of the market up five of the last six sessions. Despite the stock market's swoon at the start of the year, Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments sees good potential for another solid annual gain. SOUNDBITE: KEN FISHER, CEO, FISHER INVESTMENTS (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "The history of big years like last year is that pretty often they're followed by relatively similarly big years- sometimes not. It's not a perfect rule. There's no rule about that. But fundamentally, to see an up 20 percent or more would be a real natural thing." A powerful winter storm stretched from the Southeast to the Northeast, firing up power outages, shutting down the government, and grounding some 67-hundred flights, according to FlightAware. But major airlines Delta, UnitedContintenal, Jetblue and American Airlines all rallied. Weather froze consumer spending last month. Retail sales suprsingly fell in January and December sales were revised to show a 0.1 percent dip, a change from a 0.2 percent rise, first announced by the Commerce Department. Bad weather also being blamed for an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims. Some economists say both pieces of data point to a slowing economy, but others bet the economy will thaw once tempartures rise. The big corporate story of the day is Comcast's offer to buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion. The all-stock deal combines the two largest U.S. cable operators. The deal, which will put 30 percent of the nation's pay TV market under one company's control, is expected to face intense regulatory scrutiny, but ultimately get done. Time Warner Cable shares rose almost 7 percent while Comcast shed 4 percent. Shares of losing bidder Charter Communications, down by more than 6 percent. A quick run-down of other movers: Cisco Systems down 3-1/2 percent after a weak sales forecast. Whole Foods shed 7-1/2 percent after cutting its 2014 sales outlook for the second time in three months. But Goodyear Tire & Rubber surging 12 percent on higher-than-expected profits. European stocks were stuck in limbo by political uncertainty in Italy.