* January payrolls disappoint, December revised up slightly
* Apple leads market higher on buyback boost
* Online travel agencies' shares jump after Expedia results
* Spot VIX falls to trade below VIX futures
* Dow up 0.7 pct, S&P 500 up 0.9 pct, Nasdaq up 1.3 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 7 U.S. stocks climbed on Friday,
setting the S&P 500 on track for its first weekly gain in four
as a weak reading on the labor market was partly blamed on the
weather and traders focused on expectations of further economic
Nonfarm payrolls added 113,000 jobs in January. Economists
had forecast a gain of 185,000. December payrolls were revised
upward by only 1,000 to 75,000. The U.S. unemployment rate in
January hit a five-year low of 6.6 percent. That rate is just
above the 6.5 percent level that Fed officials have said would
prompt them to consider raising benchmark interest rates from
Strong job gains in construction hinted that cold weather
was probably not a major factor in January job creation. Traders
appeared to expect that the January numbers will be revised
upward next month. The data also showed job gains in
"Investors are giving the report the benefit of the doubt
because of the weather situation," said Donald Selkin, chief
market strategist at National Securities in New York, which has
about $3 billion in assets under management.
"What's interesting is that stocks (futures) initially got
killed after the report came out, but now we're pretty sharply
higher. That's a strong sign that we've bottomed out."
Concern about recent soft U.S. data added to worries about
growth in China and a selloff in emerging market currencies and
equities to push stocks sharply lower worldwide in the past few
Near-term concerns have subsided, however, and the spot
price for protection against drops in the S&P 500 is again below
front-month contracts, following a brief inversion of that
curve. The CBOE Volatility Index fell to 15.50 after
trading above 21 earlier this week. One-month VIX futures
ticked lower to 15.73.
As investors await a batch of fresh data in the coming
month, previous expectations for sustained U.S. economic growth
are still supporting stock prices.
"There's a favorable backdrop for further economic growth,"
said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth
Management in Minneapolis.
"Near-term direction is likely to be set by technicals
rather than fundamentals," he said.
The S&P 500 hit a session high just shy of its 14-day moving
average. It hasn't traded above it since Jan. 23.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 105.12 points
or 0.67 percent, to 15,733.65. The S&P 500 gained 15.05
points or 0.85 percent, to 1,788.48. The Nasdaq Composite
added 50.889 points or 1.25 percent, to 4,108.011.
The S&P 500 fell as much as 6 percent this week from a
record closing high set on Jan. 15. Before Friday's gains, the
benchmark index was facing its fourth weekly decline in a row -
a losing streak not seen since July and August in 2011.
The tech sector got a lift from Apple Inc after the
iPhone maker said it bought $12 billion worth of stock via an
accelerated buyback program and $2 billion more from the open
market in the two weeks since it reported earnings. Apple's
stock shot up 1.9 percent to $522.22.
News Corp Class A shares jumped 7.7 percent to
$17.25 a day after the publisher of the Wall Street Journal said
cost cuts helped push its profit well above analysts' forecasts.
Shares of online travel agency Expedia surged 11.3
percent to $72.50 a day after the company posted a
higher-than-expected quarterly profit. Shares of rival
Priceline.com added 3.5 percent to $1,178.42, while
Orbitz Worldwide gained 4.5 percent to $7.45 and
TripAdvisor climbed 10.1 percent to
Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 343 companies in the
S&P 500 that had reported earnings through Friday morning, 67.9
percent have topped Wall Street's expectations, slightly above
the 67 percent beat rate for the past four quarters and ahead of
the 63 percent rate since 1994.
Breaking away from the session's upward trend, shares of
LinkedIn fell 6.8 percent to $208.36 after the online
network for professionals gave revenue forecasts that were below
those of analysts.
Shares of Fairway Group Holdings Corp tumbled 28.9
percent to $8.13 a day after the upscale grocery store chain
posted quarterly results and announced changes in management.