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

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 16:10 hrs

* Netflix and Coach soar after results top forecasts

* China data disappoints, shows little growth in manufacturing

* DuPont and Travelers raise quarterly dividends

* Dow up 1 pct, S&P 500 up 1 pct, Nasdaq up 1.2 pct

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Tuesday as strong earnings from Travelers Cos Inc and others put shares on track for a third straight day of gains, though worries about the strength of the global economy were not far from investors' minds.

Earnings drove Wall Street's 1 percent advance, with Netflix Inc and Coach Inc among the S&P 500's top percentage gainers. Netflix soared 25.3 percent to $218.52, while Coach jumped 11 percent to $56.16. Both companies posted profits that beat expectations. Netflix also reported strong subscriber growth.

The S&P's index of information technology stocks gained 1.5 percent, while Apple rose 1.7 percent to $405.39 ahead of its results, due after the closing bell. Tech has lagged other S&P 500 sectors in the last month as investors sought more defensive areas.

Earnings season has been largely positive, with more than 68.9 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. In a typical quarter, 63 percent surpass estimates.

Still, there have been a number of high-profile disappointments, including IBM and General Electric Co .

In general, solid topline revenue growth has remained elusive, said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president of BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

"The earnings that are being delivered are through efficiency and productivity," Hellwig said. "If I'm a businessman, I'd rather have my company's sales growing than making more money through cost cutting."

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

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 143.61 points, or 0.99 percent, to 14,713.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 15.89 points, or 1.02 percent, to 1,578.39. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 39.29 points, or 1.22 percent, to 3,272.84.

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.

A round of business surveys on Tuesday suggested major economies around the world lost some momentum in April. Among the day's data was a report that showed growth in U.S. manufacturing was at its most sluggish in six months.

Data due later in the week is expected to show the economy accelerated in the first quarter, but that pace is not expected to last with recent data suggesting growth backed off heading into the spring.

A softer second quarter is already baked into market expectations, Hellwig said, adding that strength will need to pick back up in the second half of the year.

Travelers Cos Inc helped propel the Dow higher, jumping 2.3 percent to $86.51 as earnings surged past expectations. The insurer also raised its dividend.

Texas Instruments Inc shares shot up 3 percent to $35.86 after the company said improving demand for its chips would lead to growth in the current quarter, while DuPont's adjusted earnings beat expectations. DuPont, a Dow component, also raised its dividend, sending its stock up 3.4 percent to $52.12.




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