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Jan 26, 2013, 09.11 AM IST | Source: Reuters

Wall St extends rally; S&P 500 ends above 1,500 on earnings

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed above 1,500 for the first time in more than five years on Friday as strong U.S. earnings reports, including Procter & Gamble's, helped the benchmark extend its rally to eight days.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed above 1,500 for the first time in more than five years on Friday as strong US earnings reports, including Procter & Gamble's, helped the benchmark extend its rally to eight days.

The winning streak is the longest in eight years and left the S&P 500 about 4.1 percent away from its all-time closing high of 1,565.15 on October 9, 2007.

The equity market's strong start this year has been attributed to solid corporate results, an agreement in Washington to extend the government's borrowing power, encouraging signs from the global economy and seasonal inflows into stocks.

Procter & Gamble shares led the Dow and S&P higher with a 4 percent gain to USD 73.25 after the world's top household products maker's quarterly profit soared past expectations. The company also raised its sales and earnings outlook for the fiscal year.

Sales of new US single-family homes fell in December but rose in 2012 to the highest level since 2009, a sign the US housing market turned a corner last year.

"Economic data in the US has been trending higher, albeit modestly. Things are incrementally better," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 70.65 points or 0.51 percent, to close at 13,895.98. The S&P 500 gained 8.14 points or 0.54 percent, to 1,502.96. The Nasdaq Composite added 19.33 points or 0.62 percent, to end at 3,149.71.

The S&P 500 closed at its highest since December 10, 2007, and the Dow ended at its highest since October 31, 2007.

Apple shares dropped 2.4 percent to USD 439.88, and the iPhone maker lost its coveted title as the largest US company by market capitalization to Exxon Mobil Corp.

Apple's market cap fell to USD 413 billion, down roughly USD 250 billion from its September peak. Apple's fall is about equal to the entire value of Google Inc.

"The market was able to move forward despite deterioration in Apple and that's also a positive," Prudential Financial's Krosby said.

There was heavy volume in Apple shares as it hit its session low shortly before the closing bell. The stock dropped by as much as USD 7, to USD 435 from USD 442, within the span of one second during the last minute of trading.

More than 50 orders were executed on NYSE Arca at USD 435 a share, according to Thomson Reuters time-and-sales data, in blocks as small as 100 shares and as large as 10,494 shares.

Adding to the overall bullish tone in the market, German business morale improved for a third consecutive month in January to its highest in more than six months. In addition, European banks

said they will repay the European Central Bank much more than expected of the loans the bank gave them during the crisis.

"Good news in credit markets helps set the stage for (more investment in) riskier assets," Krosby said.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.5 percent. It was the fourth straight week of gains for all three indexes.

Helping to lift the Nasdaq on Friday, Starbucks rose 4.1 percent to $56.81 after the coffee retailer reported stronger-than-expected sales in the United States and Asia.

Netflix added 15.5 percent to USD 169.56, following its massive 42.2 percent jump on Thursday after the company announced a surprising jump in subscribers to its video streaming service.

Thomson Reuters data through Friday showed that of the 147 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 68 percent exceeded expectations. Since 1994, 62 percent of companies

have topped expectations, while the average over the past four quarters stands at 65 percent.

Halliburton Co shares jumped 5.1 percent to USD 39.72 after the world's second-largest oilfield services company reported higher-than-expected earnings and sales for the fourth quarter.

About 6.4 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average during January 2012 of about 6.93 billion shares.

On the NYSE, more than three issues rose for every two that fell. On the Nasdaq, five stocks advanced for every four that declined.

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