NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 01/24/13 -- A string of positive economic data helped propel the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 Index to five-year highs last week. The Dow's and S&P 500's weekly gain of 1.2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, were the third consecutive week of gains. Research Driven Investing examines investing opportunities in the S&P 500 Index and provides equity research on Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM).
A steadily improving U.S. housing market combined with a 5-year low in jobless claims has helped boost investor optimism heading into 2013. Last week, the Labor Department reported initial claims for unemployment benefits declined 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 335,000, which was the largest weekly drop in nearly 2 years. Strong earnings from major companies such as Alcoa and General Electric have also contributed to the markets recent surge. Collectively, companies in the S&P 500 Index are projected to report a 3.8% earnings growth in the fourth quarter, according to S&P's Capital IQ.
"The economy is entering the year maybe not with a running start, but certainly a head start," Jack Ablin, BMO Private Bank's chief investment officer, said in a recent telephone interview, according to Bloomberg. "It helps build a nice story for 2013."
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Shares of Google rose sharply after reporting strong fourth quarter results. "We ended 2012 with a strong quarter," said Larry Page, CEO of Google. "Revenues were up 36% year-on-year, and 8% quarter-on-quarter. And we hit $50 billion in revenues for the first time last year - not a bad achievement in just a decade and a half. In today's multi-screen world we face tremendous opportunities as a technology company focused on user benefit. It's an incredibly exciting time to be at Google."
International Business Machines is an information technology company. The company reported diluted earnings of $14.37 per share in the fourth quarter, compared with $13.06 per diluted share in 2011, an increase of 10 percent. This has been the 10th consecutive year that diluted EPS has experienced double-digit growth.
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