* S&P 500 hovers around five-year high
* China data spurs global growth optimism
* Tiffany shares slide after earnings estimates
* Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P gains 0.4 pct, Nasdaq flat
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Jan 10 U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday
on optimism about global growth spurred by
stronger-than-expected exports in China, the world's
second-biggest economy, and the S&P 500 hovered around a
Financial and energy stocks were the day's top gainers in
afternoon trading. The financial sector index rose 1
percent and the energy sector was up 0.7 percent.
Financials benefited from events this week that added
clarity to mortgage rules and banks' potential exposure to the
The government's consumer finance watchdog announced
mortgage rules on Thursday that will force banks to use new
criteria to determine whether a borrower can repay a home loan.
Earlier this week, several big mortgage lenders reached a
deal with regulators to end a review of foreclosures mandated by
Bank of America gained 2.6 percent to $11.73, while
Morgan Stanley was up 3.2 percent at $20.24, one day
after sources said the bank plans to cut jobs.
"It's a resolution. It's not hanging over their heads," said
Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in
Data showed China's export growth rebounded sharply to a
seven-month high in December, a strong finish to the year after
seven straight quarters of slowdown.
"In and of itself it is being interpreted positively that
they've stopped the downturn (in growth)," said Brunner. "If
they continue to produce good growth, that's going to be
supportive of our global manufacturers."
The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index hovered near a
five-year closing peak of 1,466.47. On Friday, the index had
closed at its highest since December 2007.
"The market is technically right at the level of resistance,
near 1,465-1,467," said Randy Frederick, managing director of
active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
"A solid breakthrough above the level would be the start of
a next leg higher, but it looks like it is going to be difficult
to break above that level for now," Frederick said, citing
concerns about the corporate earnings season and impending
negotiations over the U.S. debt ceiling.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 40.53 points,
or 0.30 percent, to 13,431.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 5.41 points, or 0.37 percent, to 1,466.43. The
Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 0.42 points, or 0.01
percent, at 3,106.23.
Thursday's session had earlier included a dip that traders
said was triggered by a trade in the options market that
prompted a large amount of S&P futures to hit the market at the
same time. That sent the S&P 500 index down rapidly but those
losses were recouped by late afternoon.
Shares of upscale jeweler Tiffany dropped 5.1
percent to $60.02 after it said sales were flat during the
Herbalife Ltd stepped up its defense against
activist investor Bill Ackman, stressing it was a legitimate
company with a mission to improve nutrition and help public
health. The stock was down 3 percent at $38.75.