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Stocks Extend Rally, Sentiment Boosted By String of Upbeat Economic Data

Friday, February 1, 2013 1:17 PM
U.S. stocks continued to held firm gains by midday trade on Friday as string of upbeat U.S. economic data increased investors’ risk appetite at a time when most Wall Street’s bigwigs have handed in better than expected quarterly results in the ongoing earnings season thus far. Nevertheless, the outlook provided by most of the companies for fiscal 2013 remains cautious due to policy stalemate in Washington over the debt ceiling issue and spending cuts. At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index climbed 1.01%; the NASDAQ Composite Index jumped 1.09% while the S&P 500 Index gained 0.98%. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall consumer sentiment climbed to 73.8 from 72.9 in December, beating economists’ expectation for 71.5. A separate data provided by the Commerce Department showed that construction spending increased 0.9 percent to an annual rate of $885 billion in December, beating economist forecast for 0.6% rise. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said that its national factory activity index edged higher to 53.1 from 50.2 in December, comfortably above analysts’ consensus forecast of 50.6. A reading over 50 signifies economic expansion. Earlier today a data provided by the Labor Department showed that employers hired at steady pace in January. Non-farm payrolls climbed by 157,000 in January, which were tad lower than economists’ forecast for 160,000 new job additions. Shares of Audience (NASDAQ: ADNC) rallied more than 20% by midday trade on Friday after the smartphone audio processing technology company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and said that it will post profit in the current quarter while analysts were expecting it to report losses. Shares of Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN)  gained nearly 3% by midday trade after the meat processor’s quarterly earnings edged past Street’s estimate even though revenue fell a tad short of analysts’ expectation. Shares of Life Time Fitness (NYSE: LTM) slumped nearly 21% by midday trading session after the company warned that fourth-quarter earnings and revenue would not match Street’s forecast. The Company attributed lower membership and high operating expenses for the lackluster outlook. Elsewhere in Europe, most leading benchmark indexes ended higher as sentiment was boosted by solid economic data from the U.S. The Stoxx 600 gained 0.34%, FTSE 100 climbed 1.12% while DAX edged up 0.74%.
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