TribLIVE

| Business

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

S&P 500 surges on housing starts, jobless claims

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 4:50 p.m.
 

NEW YORK — The Standard and Poor's 500 index climbed to another five-year high as strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims made investors more optimistic about the economy.

The S&P 500 gained 8.31 points to close at 1,480.94, its highest level since December 2007. The Dow Jones industrial average also rose, climbing to a five-year high during the day, before falling back to finish 84.79 points higher at 13,596.02. The Nasdaq composite climbed 18.46 points to 3,136.

Builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Homebuilder stocks rose broadly on the report.

The S&P 500's homebuilding index climbed 3.8 percent, its biggest gain in almost a month. PulteGroup led the advance with a jump of $1.03, or 5.3 percent, to $20.37.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week, the Labor Department reported, the latest sign that the job market is healing. Weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 37,000 to 335,000, a bigger decline than economists had forecast, according to financial data provider FactSet.

The reports helped offset disappointment over the fourth-quarter earnings reports of two of the nation's biggest banks, Citigroup and Bank of America, said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade.

“The financial stocks are having a tough time impressing the Street with anything,” Kinahan said. “The traditional banks are getting squeezed on margins, and the expectations for a lot of those companies had already been set low.”

Citigroup fell $1.24, or 2.9 percent, to $41.24 after its income fell well short of Wall Street's expectations. The bank's legal expenses rose, and it released less money from its loan-loss reserves.

Bank of America dropped 50 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $11.28 after its earnings declined. The bank is continuing to work on clearing up old problems at its mortgage unit. The bank made $367 million in the last three months of 2012 after paying preferred dividends, down sharply from $1.6 billion in the same period a year ago.

Kim Caughey Forrest, a senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group, said it was too early to conclude that the housing market had turned the corner. She noted that a large “shadow inventory” of houses that still need to be foreclosed on may weigh on house prices in the coming months.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Shell shovels $30M into proposed Beaver County plant site
  2. Off-duty but on call: Suits seek overtime
  3. Of Caitlyn Jenner and workplace restrooms
  4. Extended oil slump takes toll
  5. Companies hand out perks, benefits instead of pay raises
  6. Tech Q&A: Why you should test your router
  7. When it comes to home ownership, Hispanics finding locked doors
  8. Bond funds hold onto cash
  9. Small business hangs on fate of Export-Import Bank
  10. Muni bond funds stressed
  11. FirstEnergy to build coal waste processing facility in Beaver County