Stocks closed higher Friday thanks to better-than-expected earnings from J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and a related rally in financial stocks that more than offset a disappointing batch of economic news.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) rose 55 points, or 0.5%, to 11,787, it's highest close since June 2008. The blue-chip index extended its winning streak to a seventh week after J.P Morgan Chase, the nation's second-biggest bank by assets, posted a 47% rise in fourth-quarter income and said it hopes to raise its dividend, sparking interest in financial stocks.

The return of big-bank profits has raised the likelihood of dividend increases from the money-center banks, which would be a boon for pension funds and retirees. Bank of America (BAC), the No. 1 bank by assets, and American Express (AXP) also helped lift the Dow.

Tech Stocks Get a Boost From Intel

The broader S&P 500 ($INX) rose 10 points, or 0.7%, to finish at 1,293. The financial sector led all gainers, followed by energy stocks and the technology sector. Tech stocks, for their part, got a boost from Intel (INTC), which posted a beat-and-raise quarter after Thursday's closing bell. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) added 20 points, or 0.7%, to close at 2,755.

Damping the mood a bit were a slew of economic reports coming up short of Wall Street's expectations. December retail sales rose to $380.9 billion, up 7.9% from a year ago, but up just 0.6% from November, the Commerce Department said. Excluding auto sales, totals were up 6.7% from 2009 and 0.5% from the month before, slightly less than analysts had expected.

Rising gasoline prices caused consumer sentiment to unexpectedly fall 1.8 points to 72.7 in January, according to the latest data from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. Economists had forecast an increase to 75 from the now-revised 74.5 in December and 71.6 in November, according to a survey by Bloomberg.

Inflation Numbers Disappoint

Readings on headline consumer price inflation and business inventories also missed forecasters' mark, but industrial production and capacity utilization easily beat estimates.

Cort Gwon, director of research and trading at FBN Securities, said a successful bond auction by Portugal earlier in the week allowed investors to cast aside European debt fears for the moment and concentrate on fourth-quarter earnings.

"We had some very good earnings this week," Gwon says. "Intel had an [earnings per share] beat of about 10%. J.P. Morgan Chase beat earnings by about 12%.These two bellwethers showed that business is coming back."

For more on Gwon's take from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYX), see the video above.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Investing in Real Estate

Learn the basics of investing in real estate.

View Course »

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

13 Comments

Filter by:
sharegyan001

If you are trading in NSE, BSE, MCX and in NCDEX then let sharegyan give you all stock trading gyan

April 11 2012 at 4:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
buzzingstreet

Nice post. Its always better to think before investing money in stock market. Investment should be done in share market but with the aim to increase our funds so speculation should not be the mode of investment. Investors should know why they are investing money in any stock.
Regards

March 01 2011 at 12:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

China is moving towards capitalism and prospering. We are moving towards communism and failing. Evil, ultra rich men are providing the money to get the progessive socialist Demoncrats elected into office. When they completely take over, your middle class will dissappear leaving only the poor and the evil, ultra rich.

January 15 2011 at 5:38 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
ultraz2

The US government is very BULLISH in having more crooks arrive at Capitol Hill in 2012.

January 14 2011 at 11:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ultraz2's comment
bdyftns

They sure arrived in numebers in the House in January.

January 15 2011 at 12:00 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
ultraz2

banks are ******** that rip people off

January 14 2011 at 11:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mssports77

thats because they are gouging and killing all the people that bailed there buts out!!!!!!!!!!!! They are ruthless and I wish somebody would bail everyone esle iut the way they have been..

January 14 2011 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

It's amazing how Glenn Beck has been so right in his predictions. Thankfully, with inflation and unemployment going up, the Demoncrats will get credit in 2012 for the disasterous policies they've saddled us with.

January 14 2011 at 6:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Robert & Lisa's comment
GARY

The MARKET going UP AGAIN?? What a JOKE. As the RICH and BIG BUSINESS make more money by RAISEING the price of FOOD and FUEL we, the AVERAGE TAX PAYER, live with NO JOB or we are fighting just to KEEP FOOD on our table and fuel to get to a JOB (IF WE HAVE ONE). This is the most corrupt government in the history of the US!!! Well, thank God they are going to be GONE COME 2012!!!

January 14 2011 at 6:43 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
georgetroll4

Earnings are up, unemployment is down, corporate spending is up,and the market remains bullish.
Also Obama's approval rating is up to 50%
If this keeps up, Sarah will have trouble winning in 2012

January 14 2011 at 4:39 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to georgetroll4's comment
GARY

ANYONE who runs in 2012 can BEAT OBAMA includeing PALIN. She has more GUTS in her shoe string than he does. Also he will never win his own primary!!!

January 14 2011 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply