Stocks Rise After Better Housing, Jobless Reports
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.