Friday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The markets were on a tear on Friday as strong earnings, a positive employment report, and optimistic manufacturing data from Europe and China helped pushed the Dow past 14,000 for the first time since 2007.

At 12:40 p.m.: DJIA: +0.98%, S&P 500: +0.95%, NASDAQ: +1.23%.

Here are three stories that helped fuel the optimism:Boxing Gloves

1) Despite Washington D.C. attracting attention to itself like a ring girl at MGM Grand, stocks came out of the corner swinging in January. With spending cuts in the fiscal cliff delayed, along with the debt ceiling, stocks logged a monthly performance worthy of record books. In January, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 5.8 percent to close at 13,860, while the S&P 500 gained 5 percent to finish just shy of 1,500. The Nasdaq climbed 4.1 percent higher.

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It was the best January for the Dow since 1994 and the best for the S&P 500 since 1997. Both indices posted their best month since October 2011. According to TrimTabs Investment Research, nearly $80 billion flowed into stock mutual funds and exchange traded funds in January, the best monthly haul in at least a decade… (Read more.)

jobs2) The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total non-farm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January, bumping the U-3 unemployment rate up a fraction to 7.9 percent. The rate increase is due to the fact that January’s job growth was slower than December’s, when 196,000 jobs were added.

However, upward revisions to November and December figures helped move the average rate of employment growth for 2012 up to 181,000 per month. Job increases came in the retail, construction, healthcare, and wholesale trade sectors, while the federal government made cuts… (Read more.)

3) The index of consumer sentiment compiled by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan unexpectedly rose in January, an important boost for the U.S. economy as consumer spending is a big portion of gross domestic product.

This measure of confidence among American households increased to 73.8 last month from December’s reading of 72.9. Economist polled by Bloomberg had predicted the gauge to drop to 71.5… (Read more.)

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