U.S. stocks opened modestly higher, with finance firms leading the rise, after mixed economic reports illustrated ongoing improvement in the labor market and lackluster consumer spending in January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 52 points to 13,004. The S&P 500 rose 5 points to 1,371. The Nasdaq Composite gained 11 points to 2,978. Quiet day for news one again, but the averages keep pushing higher. The retail sector is in focus thanks to better than expected same store sales. Gap is jumping 9% to a new high for the year. Kroger is up 4% on earnings. Liz Claiborne and Lululemon are higher on upgrades. Walmart is up after raising their dividend. Martha Stewart and Wendys are modestly lower on earnings. The financials keep humming along. Blackrock, Invesco, and T. Rowe Price were all upgraded. Toronto Dominion is up 2% following earnings. JP Morgan is higher on an upgrade. The techs continue to shine. Apple is at an all time high. Microsoft is at another new high. IBM, Google, and Intel look good as well. In fact all the sectors look good as the market pushes higher. Only the consumer staples are under selling pressure. At 10 o'clock a weaker than expected manufacturing number hit the averages for a 50 point decline, but the sell off didn't last. Resilient market. Through the morning the averages held up. The financials and materials are performing the best. The consumer staples remain the weakest sector. In the afternoon the averages held up well, but below the highs of the day. The financials are the best performing sector. Heading into the last hour the Dow pulled back a little as crude oil rebounded due to rumors of a pipeline explosion in Saudi Arabia. The Dow fell into the red in the last hour only to rebound into the close as the rumors on the pipeline explosion were denied. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28 points to end at 12,980. The S&P 500 rose 8 points to 1,374. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 22 points to 2,988.
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