NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jan 22, 2013) - 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, was the third consecutive week of gains. Research Driven Investing examines investing opportunities in the S&P 500 Index and provides equity research on Alcoa Inc. (
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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 market's 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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Alcoa reported a net income of $242 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to a loss of $191 million in the year ago quarter. "Alcoa hit record profitability in our mid and downstream businesses, and continued to drive efficiency in our upstream businesses in the fourth quarter, all while cutting debt and maintaining our cash position," said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and CEO.
General Electric reported operating earnings in the fourth quarter surged 14 percent to $4.7 billion. The company's strong fourth quarter results were driven by emerging markets. "The outlook for developed markets remains uncertain, but we are seeing growth in China and the resource rich countries. With our largest backlog in history and a substantial amount of cash generated by our businesses in the fourth quarter, we have great momentum going into 2013," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt.
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