Feb 1 - Summary of business headlines: Blue chips cross 14,000 for the first time since October 2007 as jobs and factory data show steady economic growth; ExxonMobil and Chevron top forecasts; Dell deal close -sources. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The Dow surges above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007 as the latest jobs data show the labor market continues to chug along. Wall Street's performance suggests investors are growing more confident in the economy's potential, says Knight Capital Markets' Peter Kenny. SOUNDBITE: PETER KENNY, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF INSTITUTIONAL SALES, KNIGHT CAPITAL GROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There are some hurdles out there - many of them are Washington-centric, whether it's debt ceiling, whether it's budget, regardless. Basically the economy is slowly improving. It is very hard to argue with that; whether it's personal income, whether it's the housing market, improvement in employment." That confidence pushed blue chips up 149 points, a gain of more than one percent, and the rest of the market rallied just as much in percentage terms. For the week: The Dow and Nasdaq - each up less than a full percent. Job creation was stable in January, according to the Labor Department, but the figures for November and December were upwardly revised. As a whole, more people went back to work in 2012 than originally thought. So that may explain the uptick in unemployment to 7.9 percent in January as job seekers start looking for work again. In other postives, the nation's manufacturing sector expanded at the start of the year, reaching a nine-month high. Auto sales were on the fast track, led by gains in pick-up trucks, as the industry begins its fourth year of recovery. On the earnings front, Exxon Mobil topped quarterly forecasts and rival Chevron also beat expectations. Both are benefitting from an improvement in operating margins for their refinery units. Keep your eyes on Dell. Our sources say a deal to take the PC maker private could be announced as early as Monday. Europeans stocks finished higher with promising economic signals at home and abroad.