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US STOCKS-Wall Street rises on strong earnings despite soft data

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 15:30 hrs

* Netflix and Coach soar after results top forecasts

* China data disappoints, shows little growth in manufacturing

* DuPont and Travelers raise quarterly dividends

* Indexes up: Dow 0.8 pct, S&P 0.8 pct, Nasdaq 0.9 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday as strong earnings from Travelers Cos Inc and others put shares on track for a third straight day of gains, although investors said recent volatility was likely to return.

Gains were driven by corporate earnings, with Netflix Inc and Coach Inc the S&P 500's top two percentage gainers. Netflix soared 23 percent to $214.37 while Coach was up 11 percent at $56.09. Both companies posted profits that beat expectations and Netflix also posted strong subscriber growth.

Equities have steadily advanced in 2013, leading many analysts to call for a correction, although major indexes have rebounded off declines. Still, data pointing to economic weakness in the United States and China have raised questions about whether the rally will continue.

U.S. new home sales rose 1.5 percent in March, slighly under expectations, according to the Commerce Department. Equities showed little reaction to the data.

In China, data showing little growth in factory activity was the latest indicator that global growth may come under pressure. Last week data showing China's growth unexpectedly slowed in the first quarter contributed to a massive drop in commodity prices. Crude oil fell 1 percent.

"There are real concerns as we've seen material names sell off so sharply. The interpretation of risk is pretty dramatic and not necessarily evidenced by where the averages are," said Jeff Morris, head of U.S. equities at Standard Life Investments in Boston.

"Still, cyclical shares have been doing well in earnings, with financials the leaders in upside surprises and industrials also strong."

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 119.32 points, or 0.82 percent, at 14,686.49. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 12.29 points, or 0.79 percent, at 1,574.79. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 30.32 points, or 0.94 percent, at 3,263.87.

In other earnings reports, Travelers Cos Inc led the Dow higher, jumping 3.4 percent to a new all-time high as earnings surged past expectations. The insurer also raised its dividend.

Texas Instruments Inc jumped 2.2 percent to $35.57 after it said improving demand for its chips would lead to growth in the current quarter, while DuPont's adjusted earnings beat expectations. It also raised its dividend, sending shares up 1.6 percent to $51.31.

The CBOE Volatility index, a measure of investor anxiety, fell 6.3 percent on Tuesday but is coming off a jump of 24 percent last week.

"Equity gains have been getting progressively smaller, so it doesn't really feel like a robust rotation into the market at this stage," said Morris, who helps oversee $272 billion in assets.

Earnings season has been largely positive, with more than 67 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. Still, there have been a number of high-profile disappointments, including from IBM and General Electric Co.

Analysts see earnings growth of 2.1 percent this quarter, up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.

Apple Inc edged 0.2 percent higher to $399.80 in early trading. The stock, which is one of the largest U.S. companies by market capitalization, is expected to report results after the market closes.



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