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The conflict in Ukraine has been bubbling away in the background for months, but equity markets jumped after news that a ceasefire had been agreed. Traders were not holding much hope for the talks in Minsk, but the market was pleasantly surprised by the announcement. At least one set of talks that are taking place in Europe has ended well, and dealers are still seeking an outcome for the Greek debt discussion. Not to detract from the ceasefire in Ukraine, but the markets are more concerned about Greece’s fate as the indebted nation is just over two weeks away from its bailout deadline, and no solution is in sight yet.
Falling commodity prices have hurt the mining sector, but Rio Tinto has managed to increase its dividend by 12% and launch a $2 billion share buyback as increased production levels and cost-cutting helped the mining titan free up cash. Rio Tinto’s figures are standing out like a diamond in the rough as the capital returned to shareholders makes it the pick of the bunch when compared with the wider natural resources sector.
Imperial Tobacco has confirmed its full-year dividend payout despite a dip in revenue for the first three months of the year. Shares in the company are 1% higher this morning after the Bristol-headquartered firm reiterated its commitment to at least 10% dividend growth. Imperial Tobacco has launched a couple of non-tobacco products to offset falling cigarettes sales as customers are becoming more health conscious.
We are expecting the Dow Jones to open 60 points higher, at 17,920, after the news of a ceasefire in Ukraine jolted the US index future higher.
Cisco's shares are up 6% in pre-market trading after the company revealed its highest revenue stream for three years last night. The lion’s share of Cisco’s earnings is derived from the switching business, and the second-quarter figures were no exception as cloud services are in high demand.