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Stocks close at highest level since 2007

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 5:44 p.m.

NEW YORK — Stocks rose on Friday and posted strong weekly gains, with the S&P 500 index closing at a five-year high, after Congress passed crucial budget legislation and data showed the economy is continuing to add jobs at a moderate pace.

The S&P 500 climbed 7.10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,466.47, its highest closing level since Dec. 31, 2007.

The benchmark rose 4.6 percent for the week, its largest one-week percentage gain since the week that ended Dec. 2, 2011.

Before the market opened, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 155,000 in December and the jobless rate stood at 7.8 percent.

Economists polled by MarketWatch expected an increase of 160,000 jobs.

November's unemployment rate, originally reported as 7.7 percent, was changed to 7.8 percent after the annual revisions conducted each December.

A report showed that service-sector growth accelerated in December, with the Institute for Supply Management's services-sector index rising to 56.1 percent from 54.7 percent.

Around 651 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Composite volume topped 3.4 billion.

Financials and materials were the biggest gainers and information technology the biggest weight among the S&P 500's 10 major sectors.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite index gained 1.09 points, or 0.04 percent, to 3,101.66, with shares of iPhone maker Apple Inc. down 2.8 percent.

For the week, the Nasdaq Composite gained 4.8 percent.

The Consumer Electronics Show will take place in Las Vegas next week, with developments in TV sets and smaller tablet and PC-hybrid devices expected to be in the spotlight.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 43.85 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,435.21, with only six of its 30 components in negative territory.

Alcoa Inc. rallied 2.1 percent, making it the top gainer in the Dow, with the aluminum producer due to report fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, marking the start of earnings-reporting season.

“The focus is going to be on corporate earnings,” Luschini said. “If companies are reporting numbers that match or exceed expectations, then that will invite investors that have been sidelined because of the paralysis over the fiscal cliff” back into the market.

Congress passed budget legislation Tuesday that averted the fiscal cliff, at least in the short term, by raising taxes only on a small portion of the wealthiest Americans and extending unemployment benefits.

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