U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward a five-year high, as China’s exports beat estimates and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi sees an economic rebound later in 2013.
Ford Motor Co. climbed 3.3 percent after boosting its dividend. Apple Inc. gained 0.8 percent as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook met with the chairman of China Mobile Ltd. Supervalu Inc. rose 14 percent after a Cerberus Capital Management LP-led investor group agreed to buy five of its chains in a transaction valued at about $3.3 billion. Tiffany & Co. fell 4.7 percent after the second-largest luxury jewelry retailer said earnings will be at the low end of its forecast.
The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to 1,466.70 at 10:17 a.m. New York time, surpassing the highest closing level since December 2007. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 42.62 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,433.13. Trading in S&P 500 companies was 13 percent above the 30-day average at this time of day.
“China is definitely healing,” said Michael Mullaney, who helps manage $9.5 billion as chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust in Boston. “Stocks started to do better after Draghi’s comments. People feel that the recovery will take hold. As long as we don’t see Greek-Portugal-Spain debacle in 2013, those markets should continue to do better.”
Stocks followed global equities higher as China’s overseas sales rose 14.1 percent in December from a year earlier, almost triple the 5 percent gain predicted. Draghi said “a gradual recovery should start” in the euro area later this year as ECB measures work their way through the economy. More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week.
Investors also watched corporate results. Fourth-quarter profits at S&P 500 companies probably increased 2.9 percent, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That would be the second-slowest quarterly growth since 2009, the data show.
All 10 groups in the S&P 500 rose today as telephone and financial shares had the biggest gains. Energy and raw-material stocks advanced as the S&P GSCI gauge of 24 commodities climbed 0.8 percent.
Ford jumped 3.3 percent to $13.91. The second-largest U.S. automaker doubled its quarterly dividend to 10 cents per share after record profit margins boosted its cash. Ford, which resumed paying a dividend last year after a five-year hiatus, cited its strengthening business as the reason it is boosting the payout.
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