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Friday, 20 January 2012 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: +45.03 Level: 12623.98 NASDAQ PointChange: +18.62 Level: 2788.33 NQ100 PercentChange: +0.7 R2K PercentChange: +0.4 SP400 PercentChange: +0.8 SP500 PointChange: +6.46 Level: 1314.5 NASDAQ-Adv:1463 Dec: 1040 NYSE-Adv:1955 Dec: 1025

[BRIEFING.COM] The broad market notched a new multi-month high as stocks scored varied gains following a flurry of earnings reports and economic releases.

A strong finish to the prior session and decisive buying abroad helped position stocks for a positive open. Market participants also focused on better-than-expected earnings results from several widely-held names, including eBay (EBAY 31.51, +1.17), United Health (UNH 52.32, -1.62), Union Pacific (UNP 112.18, +2.36), Freeport McMoRan (FCX 44.37, -0.10), and Morgan Stanley (MS 18.28, +0.93). Bank of America (BAC 6.96, +0.16) came short of the bottom line consensus, but that was initially shrugged off since the diversified banking and financial services giant showed improvement in other areas. Declaration of bankruptcy by Eastman Kodak (EK 0.36, -0.20) came as little surprise to many.

Economic data was really rather mixed. December consumer prices were unchanged overall, but core prices inched up during by 0.1%. Both measures had been expected to increase by just 0.1%.

Weekly initial jobless claims dropped by 50,000 to 352,000, which is considerably less than the tally of 385,000 that had been expected, on average, among economists polled by and the lowest tally since 2008.

Housing starts for December had been widely expected to hit an annualized rate of 673,000 units, but instead came in at a rate of 657,000, down from the prior month rate of 685,000 units.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey for January improved to 7.3 from 6.8 in the prior month, but that was still less than the reading of 10.0 that had been expected among many economists.

Another bounce by the euro, which is widely regarded as a barometer of eurozone sentiment, provided stocks with a positive catalyst. The euro's early retreat to the flat line was shadowed by the S&P 500, but both were able to rebound. By session's end the euro was resting on a 0.8% gain against the greenback and enters Friday with a week-to-date gain of 2.2%.

The broad market's path higher was relatively choppy and without much volume, but nonetheless it enabled the stock market to book its best close since this past summer. The S&P 500 is now up more than 20% from the 52-week intraday low set this past fall and only about 4% below the multi-year high that it set last spring.

Advancing Sectors: Industrials +0.9%, Financials +0.9%, Consumer Discretionary +0.9%, Tech +0.7%, Energy +0.4%, Consumer Staples +0.2%, Telecom +0.2%
Unchanged: Health Care
Declining Sectors: Utilities -0.8%

Source: Briefing

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