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Stocks edge higher after Ukraine cease-fire deal

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NEW YORK (AP) — Reports of a cease-fire agreement in eastern Ukraine gave stock markets around the world a lift on Wednesday. U.S. stocks headed higher in early trading, following a rally in Europe.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up four points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,006 as of 11 a.m. Eastern time.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,134, while the Nasdaq composite index edged up two points, a fraction of a percent, to 4,601.

OVER THERE: Germany’s DAX was up 1.2 percent, while the CAC-40 in France picked up 1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.8 percent higher. Russian shares soared, with the benchmark MICEX up 3.6 percent.

U.S. ECONOMY: Another encouraging report on the U.S. economy came from the government on Wednesday. The Commerce Department said that orders for U.S. factory goods shot up 10 percent in July, the biggest one-month jump on records running back to 1992. Orders for commercial aircraft fueled the rise.

GOTHAM: Shares in Netflix headed higher following news that the company struck a deal with Warner Bros. to run the televion series “Gotham,” a show about the origins of Batman and the superhero’s rivals. The series will debut on Fox in September, and Netflix will reportedly have the rights to the show in more than one country starting next year. Netflix’s stock picked up $5.21, or 1 percent, to $481.76.

CEASE-FIRE: Markets surged after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a peace plan for eastern Ukraine. That followed an earlier announcement from Ukraine of a cease-fire deal. Details remain sketchy. Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of arming pro-Russian insurgents fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine since mid-April. Moscow denies the charge.

ANALYST’S TAKE: Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari, said the reports of a cease-fire were “welcomed with open arms by the markets.” The hope, he said, must be that painful economic sanctions between the West and Russia are soon lifted and that the European economy can reclaim lost ground. “We can’t forget that the effects of the crisis have been felt in many countries beyond those directly involved,” said Erlam.

AILING EUROPE: The crisis in Ukraine has played a role in hampering the European economic recovery this year. In its monthly survey, financial information company Markit highlighted tensions in Ukraine as a culprit behind a sharp fall in its gauge of business activity in the 18-country eurozone. Some economists expect the European Central Bank to announce new measures on Thursday to help pull the region out of a rut.

CHINA: An HSBC report showed that activity expanded at the fastest rate in 17 months in China’s services industries. The HSBC China Service Business Activity Index rose to 54.1 in August from 50 in July.

ASIA’S DAY: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 2.3 percent. Stock markets in mainland China and Southeast Asia also rose. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent.

ENERGY: News of a possible cease fire helped support oil prices. Benchmark U.S. crude for October delivery was up $1.23 to $94.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Youkyung Lee in Seoul, South Korea contributed to this report.