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Overnight Markets: S&P 500 hits 5-year high on China export data

Overnight Markets: S&P 500 hits 5-year high on China export data

Wall Street rose on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index hitting its highest level in five years, as better-than-estimated data on Chinese exports spurred optimism about global growth prospects.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 81 points, or 0.6%, to 13,471. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 11 points, or 0.76%, to 1,472. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 16 points, or 0.51%, to 3,122.

According to analysts, rally followed an upbeat economic data out of China, which showed the country’s overseas sales rose 14.1% in December from a year earlier, almost triple the 5% gain predicted.

Contributing to the positive sentiment, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the eurozone economy will slowly return to health in 2013 as the region’s bond markets stabilise after three years of turmoil.

Financial and energy stocks gained the most. Bank of America rose 3.1%, while Morgan Stanley was up 3.7%, one day after sources said the bank plans to cut jobs.

Shares of upscale jeweller Tiffany dropped 4.5% after it said sales were flat during the holidays.

Herbalife Ltd ended down 1.8% after the company stepped up its defense against activist investor Bill Ackman.

American Express rose 0.7% after the closing bell after the company said it would cut about 5,400 jobs, and take about $600 million in after-tax charges in the fourth quarter.

Ford (F) Motor Co. climbed 2.7% after boosting its dividend.

In deal news, Supervalu Inc. jumped 14% as a Cerberus Capital Management LP-led investor group agreed to buy five of its chains in a deal valued at about $3.3 billion.

In Asia, shares oscillated between gains and losses on Friday as China’s inflation increased more than forecast that may discourage further monetary policy easing to support an economic recovery. In Japan, stocks rose after the government approved 10.3 trillion yen ($116 billion) of stimulus measures.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.1% to 132 as of 12:54 p.m. in Tokyo, erasing gains of 0.3%.Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 1.2%.  China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.5%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index swung between gains and losses. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.2%. South Korea’s Kospi Index dropped 0.8% after the nation’s central bank left its key rate unchanged as expected.

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