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US stocks jump amid confidence in economy

US stocks vaulted higher as investors shrugged off a report showing poor industrial output last month as mainly weather-related.

NEW YORK: US stocks on Friday vaulted higher as investors shrugged off a report showing poor industrial output last month as mainly weather-related.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 126.80 (0.79 per cent) to 16,154.39.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 8.80 (0.48 per cent) to 1,838.63, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 3.35 (0.08 per cent) to 4,244.03.

US industrial output unexpectedly fell 0.3 per cent in January. But the Federal Reserve said the decline was partly due to "the severe weather that curtailed production in some regions of the country."

Sam Stovall, chief investment officer at Standard & Poor's Capital IQ, said investors were confident in the US recovery.

A lot of the weak data "is weather-related," Stovall said. "We will find that as the months move on, the economy will bounce back."

The Dow was led higher by UnitedHealth (+3.2 per cent), ExxonMobil (+2.9 per cent) and Procter & Gamble (+2.1 per cent).

Jos. A Bank Clothiers rose 0.4 per cent following an announcement that it will acquire privately-owned casual and outdoor clothing chain Eddie Bauer for about $825 million. Jos. A Bank said the deal will enable it to grow its customer base while saving about $25 million by combining administrative operations.

Shares of Men's Wearhouse, which was seeking to acquire Jos. A Bank, fell 5.3 per cent following the Eddie Bauer announcement. The Men's Wearhouse board said it will review its options with respect to its offer for Jos. A. Bank.

Shares of Occidental Petroleum rose 3.8 per cent after it announced it will split, creating a separate publicly-traded company for its California assets and another company for other US assets and properties in the Middle East and Colombia.

Agilent Technologies, which manufactures high-tech measurement equipment, slumped 8.0 per cent on a disappointing profit outlook. The company forecast 2014 earnings of $2.96-$3.16 per share, less than the $3.19 projected by analysts.

Insurer AIG dipped 1.2 per cent after quarterly earnings of $1.15 per share bested expectations by 19 cents. The company said it spent $265 million on severance costs. The company plans to cut about 1,900 jobs, based on an AIG document seen by AFP.

Weight Watchers International shed 27.7 per cent on a lean 2014 outlook. The company projected earnings of just $1.30-$1.60 per share, compared with estimates of $2.78 per share. "2014 will be a very challenging year," said chief executive Jim Chambers.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.75 per cent from 2.74 per cent Thursday, while the 30-year increased to 3.70 per cent from 3.69 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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