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Wall St rises on jobs, factory data, Dow passes 14,000

by FP Staff  Feb 2, 2013 02:00 IST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose to five-year highs on Friday after jobs and manufacturing data showed the economy's recovery remains on track.

The Dow industrials rose above 14,000 for the first time since mid-October 2007 and the S&P touched its highest since December of that year. The S&P advanced 5 percent in January for its best start to a year since 1997 and is now just about 60 points away from its all-time intraday high of 1,576.09.

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.

"Fundamentals are looking good today after the data, but overall the money that was on the sidelines is finally coming into the market again," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management.

Employment grew modestly in January, with 157,000 jobs added in the month, slightly below expectations for 160,000. But Labor Department revisions showed 127,000 more jobs were created in November and December than previously reported.

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.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 150.14 points, or 1.08 percent, at 14,010.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 15.11 points, or 1.01 percent, at 1,513.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 38.50 points, or 1.23 percent, at 3,180.63.

With the day's gains, major equity indexes were on track for a fifth straight week of gains. The S&P 500 is also coming off its best monthly performance since October 2011.

Google shares (GOOG.O) briefly hit an all-time high of $774.92 before retreating to trade 2.5 percent higher at

$774.54.

Investors were also attuned to corporate earnings, with a trio of Dow components reporting profits that beat expectations.

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) was little changed at $89.95 after its results while Chevron (CVX.N) added 1 percent to $116.34.

Drugmaker Merck & Co (MRK.N) fell 2.7 percent to $42.10 after a cautious 2013 outlook.

Generic drugmaker Perrigo (PRGO.O) reported a better-than-expected second-quarter profit and its shares jumped 5.5 percent to $106.01.

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.

Dell Inc (DELL.O) gained 4.2 percent to $13.80 after sources said the company was nearing an agreement to sell itself to a buyout consortium led by its founder, Michael Dell, and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

Shares of General Motors (GM.N) and Ford Motor (F.N) rose after the two largest American automakers posted better-than-expected U.S. auto sales for January.

GM gained 1.2 percent to $28.42 and Ford added 0.9 percent to $13.07.

Shares of Zoetis (ZTS.N) surged on its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange after its shares were priced at $26, above the expected range. Zoetis was trading at $30.67 at midday after earlier climbing as high as $31.74.

(Reporting By Angela Moon; Editing by Kenneth Barry)