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Earnings gains drive stocks higher on Wall Street

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Earnings gains at major U.S. companies and encouraging economic news pushed U.S. stocks to record levels Thursday.

A drop in claims for unemployment benefits signaled a healthier economy and encouraged investors to buy stocks. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said manufacturing in its region grew at the fastest pace in more than two years this month.

Among companies reporting second-quarter earnings, Morgan Stanley was one of the standouts, rising $1.16, or 4.4 percent, to $27.70. Energy companies rose after the price of oil shot up to a 16-month high on signs that the economy is improving.

The stock market is back at record levels after pulling back in June amid concerns that the Fed was poised to reduce its stimulus program.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 8.46 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,689.37. The index has gained for 10 of the last 11 days. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78.02 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,548.54. The Nasdaq composite edged up 1.28 points, just 0.04 percent, to 3,611.28. The Nasdaq was held back by weak earnings reports from several major technology companies.

Ky. unemployment rate rises to 8.4 percent

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Huge job losses in manufacturing and several other key sectors pushed Kentucky's unemployment rate to 8.4 percent in June.

The Office of Employment and Training released the latest numbers on Thursday, showing the manufacturing sector lost 3,200 jobs in June.

The education and health services sector, another of several big losers, was down 1,500 jobs. The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 1,200 jobs. The professional and business services sector shrunk by 900 jobs. And the construction sector was down 700 jobs.

Regional bank Fifth Third 2Q profit rises

CINCINNATI -- Regional banking company Fifth Third Bancorp's second-quarter net income rose 58 percent, thanks partly to the sale of shares of its Vantiv payment processing subsidiary.

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third on Thursday reported net income available to common shareholders of $594 million, or 66 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30. That compares with $376 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding benefits tied to the Vantiv stock sales, earnings were 44 cents per share. That beat Wall Street expectations for 42 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Net interest income, or income from loans and deposits, for the second quarter fell 1.6 percent to $885 million compared with last year.

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