Stock Started Higher on Jobs Report

U.S. stocks started a new month with strong gains on Friday after the January nonfarm payrolls report bolstered thinking that the lackluster recovery remains on track. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 109.19 points, or 0.79%, to 13,969.77. The S&P 500 index gained 9.51 points, or 0.63%, to 1,507.62. The Nasdaq Composite added 17.93 points, or 0.57%, to 3,160.06.

Employment grew again in January but not at a pace able to lower the jobless rate. Nonfarm payrolls rose 157,000 for the first month of 2013 while the unemployment rate edged higher to 7.9 percent, news unlikely to alter the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy or instill confidence that the recovery is gaining steam.

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) on Friday reported a higher-than-expected 6 percent increase in quarterly profit on stronger results at its chemical and refining businesses. The company said profit in the fourth quarter was $9.95 billion, or $2.20 per share, compared with $9.4 billion, or $1.97 per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Chevron Corp.(CVX) posted a 41 percent gain in net income for the fourth quarter. Chevron Corp. posted net income of $7.2 billion for the quarter on revenue of $60.6 billion. That’s up from $5.1 billion on revenue of $60 billion a year ago. On a per- share basis, Chevron earned $3.70.

Merck & Co Inc’s (MRK) quarterly results beat estimates, but the company issued a cautious 2013 profit forecast and said it would delay seeking approval for a high- profile osteoporosis drug. The No. 2 U.S. drugmaker earned $1.4 billion, or 46 cents per share, in the fourth quarter. That compared with $1.51 billion, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding special items, Merck earned 83 cents per share.

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