Stocks Jump on Data, Strong Energy Performance

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The Dow and S&P 500 jumped to five-year highs as traders cheered strong data and big gains in the energy complex.

Today's Markets

As of 3:20 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 96.5 points, or 0.71%, to 13608, the S&P 500 climbed 10.1 points, or 0.69%, to 1483 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 19.5 points, or 0.63%, to 3137.

The Labor Department said new claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to 335,000 last week -- the lowest level since January 2008 -- from an upwardly revised 372,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to fall to 365,000 from an initially reported 371,000.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said U.S. housing starts jumped 12.1% in December from November to an annualized 954,000-unit rate, the highest rate since June 2008. Permits rose 0.3% to an annualized rate of 903,000 units.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's gauge of manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region fell to -5.8 in January from 4.6 in December. The index was expected to rise to 5.8. Readings above zero point to expansion while those below indicate contraction.

Boeing (NYSE:BA), the blue-chip plane maker, has captured headlines as worries have swelled about its 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In the latest setback, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered carriers flying U.S.-registered 787s to temporarily halt using the plane until they can demonstrate the onboard batteries are safe. Shares pointed down another 2%.

Earnings season also began kicking into high gear. Ahead of the opening bell, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) reported fourth-quarter earnings.

BofA, the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets, saw its net income shrink $700 billion from $2 billion the year prior. Its per-share earnings of 3 cents topped expectations by a penny, but its revenues of $19.61 billion came in shy of the $21.11 billion analysts forecast.

UnitedHealth, the biggest U.S. health insurer, said it earned $1.20 a share on revenues of $28.8 billion, topping estimates of $1.19 per share on $28.2 billion.

Citi posted an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 69 cents per share, which was short of the 96 cents analysts forecast. Adjusted revenues of $18.7 billion also missed expectations of $18.8 billion.

Oil futures rallied after the hostage situation in Algeria prompted concerns about the security of supplies in the Middle East and North Africa. The benchmark oil contract rose $1, or 1.1%, to $95.24 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline climbed 0.74% to $2.741 a gallon. In metals, gold gained $3.10, or 0.19%, to $1,686 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.43% to 2714, the English FTSE 100 climbed 0.16% to 6114 and the German DAX was flat at 7691.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 gained 0.09% to 10610 and the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.07% to 23340.