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Saturday February 2, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 12:37:01 AM
NEW YORK: Stocks rose to five-year highs on Friday, with the Dow closing above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007, after jobs and manufacturing data showed the economy's recovery remains on track.
The S&P touched its highest since December 2007 after a 5 percent gain in January, which was its best start to a year since 1997. The index is now just about 60 points away from its all-time intraday high of 1,576.09.
Employment grew modestly in January, with 157,000 jobs added. That was slightly below expectations, but Labor Department revisions showed 127,000 more jobs were created in November and December than previously reported.
Analysts attributed the market's robust showing so far this year partly to a deluge of cash flowing into equities.
Investors poured $12.7 billion into U.S.-based stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in the latest week, concluding the strongest four-week flows into stock funds since 1996, data showed on Thursday.
"There is a lot of money looking for a home, and people are finally deciding the bond market is done and moving money into equities," said Edward Simmons, managing director and partner at HighTower in Portland, Maine.
"I see the rotation (of assets) pushing the market up in the face of not-massive amounts of good news," he said. "People are overlooking the higher risk in equities."
Other reports released Friday showed the pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector picked up in January to its highest level in nine months, U.S. consumer sentiment rose more than expected last month, while December construction spending also beat forecasts.
"All the data seems to keep pointing to a slowly, steadily improving economy," said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago.
With the day's gains, major equity indexes rose five straight weeks.
Investors were also attuned to corporate earnings, with a trio of Dow components reporting profits that beat expectations.
Of the 252 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 69 percent have exceeded expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. That is a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above average since 1994.
Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are estimated to have grown 4.4 percent, according to the data, up from a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season but well below a 9.9 percent profit growth forecast on October 1.
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