The Dow Jones industrial average was perched right near 14,000 at midday, a level it hasn’t seen since the depths of the financial crisis in 2007, as upbeat economic data from across the globe buoyed optimism that January’s stock market gains will extend into this month.
At a few minutes past noon, The Dow Jones industrial average was up 140 points, or 1 per cent, at 14,001 - within a whisper of its intraday high of 14,004.38. The index rose about 5.75 per cent in January, thanks to the resolution of the so-called fiscal cliff crisis and corporate earnings that mostly beat analysts’ expectations.
The S&P/TSX composite index - which rose a more modest 2 per cent in January - was up 83 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 12,768. The S&P 500 was up nearly 15 points, or 1 per cent, at 1,514.
This morning’s U.S. employment report showed 157,000 jobs were created last month. That was just shy of the average forecast by economists, but the data also showed that the economy added about one-third of a million more jobs in 2012 than previously estimated.
And a number of other U.S. reports support the view that the economy is on a sustainable uptrend. U.S construction spending rose 0.9 per cent in December. The Institute for Supply Management's index rose to 53.1 per cent in January from 50.2 per cent in December, marking its highest level since April and stronger than expected. And consumer sentiment in January rose to 73.8 from 72.9 in December, according to the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters.
Overnight, shares on the Shanghai stock exchange jumped 1.4 per cent after two separate surveys showed improvement in China’s manufacturing sector, helped by a build-up in new orders. China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 50.4 for January, signifying expansion but down slightly from 50.6 in December. More upbeat was HSBC’s final PMI index reading of 52.3, which rose from the previous month’s 51.5 retreat.
Similar purchasing managers’ data were released in Europe this morning, which indicated the region’s manufacturing sector contracted at the slowest pace in nearly a year. While not overly rosy, the report suggests the economic downturn in Europe may have at least bottomed. Euro zone inflation data were also released this morning, showing an increase of 2 per cent in January from a year ago. Inflation there is now near the European Central Bank’s target of close to, but below 2 per cent, and may give the ECB room to cut interest rates again to stimulate the economy.
Here’s a look at some stocks moving on news:
Shares in Research In Motion Ltd. was nearly unchanged after rising by about 3 per cent at the open. The company, now to be known as BlackBerry, saw its shares decline by nearly 20 per cent over the past two days and is struggling to regain any lost ground.
Exxon Mobil Corp. shares were up 0.07 per cent after reporting its fourth-quarter profit rose to a five-year high, beating analyst expectations.
Exxon’s partially owned Canadian unit, Imperial Oil Ltd, was up 0.5 per cent as it reported a slight increase in fourth-quarter profit even as revenues declined.
Chevron Corp. shares are up 0.7 per cent after it beat earnings expectations in reporting a 27 per cent rise in quarterly profits.
Reuters reported that Dell Inc. is close to an agreement to sell itself to a consortium led by founder Michael Dell and the private equity group Silver Lake Partners. Dell shares are up 4 per cent.
Ford Motor Co. reported a 22 per cent rise in January auto sales year-over-year, its best since 2006. Shares are up 0.7 per cent.
Mattel Inc. reported fourth-quarter earnings fell 17 per cent because of a litigation charge as sales rose 4.7 per cent. Shares are up nearly 1 per cent.
Domtar Corp.’s fourth-quarter profit fell sharply to 54 cents a share from $1.63 a share a year ago on weak pulp and paper prices and higher energy and fibre costs. Shares open down nearly 3 per cent.