Feb. 7 - Summary: S&P 500 rises first time in four weeks; Investors find hopeful reasons in weaker-than-expected January jobs report; Apple buys back $14 billion in stock; LinkedIn falls after outlook. .Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street didn't give in to cold weather or a weak jobs report, and finished the day in plus territory... putting together the strongest back-to-back rally since October with the market up more than 1 percent for the second day in a row. And despite starting the week with the worst day in six months, the Dow tacked on 0.6 percent for the week and the Nasdaq posted a weekly gain of half a percent. Employers added only 113,000 jobs in January, much less than the 185,000 economists were expecting. There were stronger gains in construction and manufacturing - somewhat dashing fears that the economic freeze caused by weather in December, extended into January. The unemployment rate hit a five-year low of 6.6 percent, according to the Labor Department's household survey, which paints a more optimistic picture, says Decision Economics' Cary Leahey. SOUNDBITE CARY LEAHEY, CHIEF U.S. ECONOMIST, DECISION ECONOMICS (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "The decline in the unemployment rate over the last couple of years has been dominated by the drop in labor force participation for a host of reasons so probably the economy doesn't feel like a 6.6 percentage point rate, it feels more like an 8 percent rate. But the drop this month because of an increase in labor force participation and a big increase in hiring - was actually a decline in the unemployment rate for all the right reasons." Apple bought $14 billion of its own stock in the two weeks since it reported disappointing first-quarter results. With the latest round of repurchases, the company has bought back more than $40 billion of its shares over the past 12 months. Apple's CEO Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal: "Apple is betting on Apple." Shares of Apple rallied roughly 1.4 percent. In other action: News Corp shares jumped almost 9 percent one day after the publisher of the Wall Street Journal said cost cuts helped push profit well above analysts' forecasts. Shares of online travel agency Expedia surged 14 percent on higher-than-expected earnings. Rivals Priceline.com, Orbitz and TripAdvisor all moving up as well. Breaking away from the session's upward trend: shares of LinkedIn tumbling 6 percent, with a revenue forecast below expectations. And shares of Fairway losing over a quarter of its value after announcing a loss and a management shake up. European investors betting on a gradual economic recovery at home pushed domestic markets higher.