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Stocks Rise After Better Housing, Jobless Reports

by Steve Rothwell
Thursday Jan 17, 2013

Stocks advanced, pushing the Standard and Poor's 500 to another five-year high, after strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims made investors more optimistic about the U.S. economy.

The S&P 500 gained six points to 1,479 in the first hour of trading Thursday, reaching the highest level since December 2007. The Dow Jones industrial average also rose, gaining 65 points to 13,575. The Nasdaq composite rose 19 points to 3,136.

U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week, the Labor Department reported, the latest sign that the job market is healing. Weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, a bigger decline than economists had forecast, according to financial data provider FactSet.

The earnings reporting period continued with a focus on financial companies as Citigroup and Bank of America released fourth-quarter results.

Citigroup fell $1.06 to $41.43 after its income fell well short of Wall Street's expectations. The bank's legal expenses rose and it released less money from its loan-loss reserves.

Bank of America also dropped, declining 39 cents to $11.39, after its earnings decline. The bank is continuing to work on clearing up old problems at its mortgage unit. The bank made $367 million in the last three months of 2012 after paying preferred dividends, down sharply from $1.6 billion in the same period a year ago.

Boeing fell 56 cents to $73.56 after the Federal Aviation Administration said late Wednesday that they were temporarily grounding Boeing's 787 Dreamliners after battery problems led to an emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways flight. The plane makers stock dropped 3.4 percent the day before.

Stocks started 2013 with a rally after lawmakers came up with a last-minute plan to stop the U.S. going over the "fiscal cliff," a series of tax hikes and spending cuts that economists say would probably have pushed the U.S. into recession.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, rose three basis points to 1.87 percent.

Other stocks making big moves:

- EBay rose $1.61 to $54.51 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations. Bargain-hunting holiday shoppers flocked to eBay's online shopping mall and digital payment service.

- CBS surged $4.08 to $42.02 after the media company said late Wednesday that it was converting its U.S. outdoor advertising business to a real estate investment trust and selling the international portion of the business.

- BlackRock gained $6.85 to $229 after the investment manager said its fourth-quarter net income surged, beating analysts' forecasts. The company also increased its dividend.

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