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Stocks gain for second week, keeping S&P near high

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

NEW YORK — Stocks gained for a second straight week as company earnings reports started to come in, keeping the Standard and Poor's 500 index within a fraction of its highest level in five years.

The S&P 500 was little changed on Friday and gained 5 points in the week to close at 1,472.05. The index is a fraction below its close of 1,472.12 on Thursday, its highest level since December 2007.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 17.21 points to 13,488.43. The Nasdaq composite index gained 3.88 to 3,125.63. For the week, the Dow rose 53 and the Nasdaq, 24.

Companies have started to report earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012, but no clear pattern has emerged.

Aluminum company Alcoa gave stocks a lift when it reported earnings late Tuesday that matched analysts' expectations and said demand was increasing.

Investors were unimpressed by Wells Fargo's record profits on Friday, choosing instead to focus on the sustainability of those earnings.

“You've been hearing comments that earnings season is going to show a continued contraction in the rate of growth,” said Robert Pavlik of Banyan Partners. “People are conflicted. They are worried, but at the same time they don't want to be missing out on the action in the overall market.”

Analysts expect fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies to grow at a rate of 3.3 percent, according to the latest data from S&P Capital IQ. That's a better growth rate than in the previous quarter, but it's considerably weaker than the 8.4 percent growth rate recorded in the same period last year.

Wells Fargo, the first major bank to report earnings, dropped even after the bank reported a 25 percent increase in fourth-quarter earnings. The bank's stock fell 30 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $35.10.

JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, U.S. Bancorp, Citigroup and Bank of America are among banks and financial companies reporting earnings next week. Financial stocks were the best performing industry group in the S&P 500 last year, gaining 26 percent.

Other companies reporting earnings next week include eBay and Intel.

Boeing fell $1.93, or 2.5 percent, to $75.16 after the Federal Aviation Administration said it is starting a comprehensive review of the critical systems of Boeing's 787, the aircraft maker's newest and most technologically advanced plane, after a fire and a fuel leak this week.

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