U.S. stocks rallied for a fifth week as data showing improvement in the labor market and better-than-estimated earnings sent benchmark indexes toward record highs.
Caterpillar Inc. jumped 4.1 percent after forecasting earnings growth in the second half as the world economy improves. Valero Energy Corp. added 18 percent on a 20-fold profit gain. Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. rose 4.4 percent as telephone companies led gains among 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. United Parcel Service Inc. declined 3 percent as the world’s largest package-delivery company gave a profit outlook that trailed estimates.
The S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent to 1,513.17 for the week. The benchmark equity gauge is up 6.1 percent for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 113.81 points, or 0.8 percent, to 14,009.79. The gauge closed above 14,000 for the first time since 2007 and is 1.1 percent below the all-time record it reached in October 2007.
“The January jobs data came in line with expectations but the revisions were really the silver lining,” Joseph Tanious, a New York-based global market strategist for JPMorgan Funds, which oversees $400 billion, said in a telephone interview. “There were fairly meaningful revisions to the prior months, suggesting that the labor market is in fact continuing to heal. That reinforces the belief that the U.S. economy is growing.”
The S&P 500 jumped 1 percent on the last trading day after a report showed U.S. payrolls rose 157,000 last month following a revised 196,000 advance in the prior month and a 247,000 surge in November. The hiring gains indicated the labor market was making progress even as lawmakers quarreled over the federal budget at the end of 2012. Among other economic reports, manufacturing in the U.S. expanded more than forecast in January, reaching a nine-month high.
Equities slumped earlier in the week as data showed the U.S. economy shrank at a 0.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the worst performance since the second quarter of 2009. The Federal Reserve said it will keep purchasing securities at the rate of $85 billion a month.
The S&P 500 has more than doubled from a 12-year low in 2009, trading about 3.3 percent below its record high, as Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has unleashed the power of the central bank to buy unlimited amounts of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities to keep interest rates low and spur growth.
The benchmark index ended last month with its best January return since 1997, at 5.2 percent including dividends, as fourth-quarter earnings beat estimates and U.S. lawmakers forged a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases. Of the 254 S&P 500 that have posted results, 73 percent exceeded analysts’ profit estimates and 65 percent topped sales projections, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“We’ve gotten a lot more clarity on important things that we didn’t have a short while ago, as it relates to the U.S. economy, the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, fourth-quarter earnings,” Tanious said. “As you continue to peel away that uncertainty and markets become more comfortable, you create an environment where risk assets can do quite well.”
Caterpillar gained 4.1 percent to $99.49 for the week. The largest maker of construction and mining equipment forecast 2013 earnings of $7 to $9 a share. The Peoria, Illinois-based company forecast that world economic growth will be weak initially and improve as 2013 unfolds to beat last year’s growth of 2.3 percent. Caterpillar posted record profit for last year of $8.64.
Valero surged 18 percent to $44.85. The world’s largest independent refiner by processing capacity rose to the highest level since June 2008 after reporting a 20-fold increase in fourth-quarter profit driven by cheap U.S. crude.
Telephone companies jumped 3.6 percent as a group. Verizon rallied 4.4 percent for the biggest gain in the Dow to $44.56. AT&T posted the second-largest advance, rising 4.4 percent to $35.51.
Consumer-staple stocks added 1.2 percent for the third- largest rally. Procter & Gamble Co. climbed 3.7 percent to $75.92. Utility stocks were fourth, rising 1.1 percent.
Pfizer Inc. rallied 2.3 percent to $27.63. The world’s largest drugmaker reported revenue of $15.1 billion, beating the estimate of $14.4 billion in its biggest positive surprise in five quarters. Zoetis Inc., the animal-health company owned by Pfizer, surged 19 percent to $31.01 in its debut on the last day of the week. Zoetis raised $2.24 billion in its initial public offering, the biggest in the U.S. since Facebook Inc.’s last year.
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