NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 01/31/13 -- 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. On Friday, the S&P 500 Index closed above the 1,500 mark for the first time since 2007. "The bottom line is that corporate America is doing exceptionally well," said JPMorgan global market strategist, Joe Tanious. Research Driven Investing examines investing opportunities in the S&P 500 Index and provides equity research on Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY).
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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. Earlier this month 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, General Electric and Proctor & Gamble 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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Pfizer reported a net income of $6.32 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a net income of $1.44 billion in the year ago quarter. The $4.8 billion gain in net income was attributable to the company's sale of its nutrition business to Nestle. According to CEO Ian Read the company may consider separating branded medicines and generic products into separate units.
Lilly is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. The company' fourth quarter earnings, excluding one-time items, of $0.85 per share topped analysts' estimates of $0.79 per share, according to Bloomberg.
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