US stocks at five-year high
Strong earnings from technology giants nudged the US stock market to a five-year high today.
Investors also drew encouragement from a vote by the House of Representatives to let the government keep paying all of its bills for another four months.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66.96 points to close at 13,799.17. That is the highest level since October 31, 2007, a month before the Great Recession started.
Google and IBM reported surprisingly solid fourth-quarter earnings late yesterday, a hopeful sign for investors who expected technology companies to struggle at the end of last year.
IBM's results beat expectations, thanks to its lucrative internet-based "cloud computing" business and sales of software services to Brazil, Russia and other developing countries. The company also raised its earnings outlook for the current year.
Without IBM's 4% gain, the Dow would have been nearly flat.
Other indexes made slight gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 2.22 points to 1,494.78, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 10.49 points to 3,153.67.
The stock market has climbed so quickly this month that it will likely take more than good earnings to keep it heading higher.
"This market is really stretched," said Clark Yingst, chief market analyst at the securities firm Joseph Gunnar. "We've essentially gone straight up since January 2. There's certainly room for people to take profits."
The S&P 500 index is already up 4.8 % in 2013. That is more than half of what most stock-fund investors hope to make in a single year.
The House passed a Bill today to suspend the government's borrowing limit until May 19. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said his chamber would immediately move the legislation to the White House.
House Republicans had previously said they would use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to push for deeper government spending cuts.
Google gained 6% after its earnings climbed at the end of last year as online advertisers spent more money in pursuit of Christmas shoppers.
Another tech giant, Apple, fell in after-hours trading after reporting revenue that fell short of forecasts.
Slumping coal shipments have been a drag on railroad operators, but CSX and Norfolk Southern posted better revenue and profits than expected. The railroads managed to offset some of the hit from falling coal demand by getting more money from carrying car parts, building materials and other products.