Saturday January 12, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks gained for a second straight week as company earnings reports started to come in, keeping the Standard and Poor’s 500 index within a fraction of its highest level in five years.

The S&P 500 was little changed Friday, and gained 5 points in the week to close at 1,472.05. The index is a fraction below its close of 1,472.12 Thursday, its highest level since December 2007.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.21 points to 13,488.43. The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.88 to 3,125.63. For the week, the Dow rose 53 and the Nasdaq rose 24.

Companies have started to report earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012, but no clear pattern has emerged as yet.

Aluminum company Alcoa gave stocks a lift after it reported earnings late Tuesday that matched analysts’ expectations and said that demand was increasing. Investors were unimpressed by Wells Fargo’s record profits Friday, choosing instead to focus on the sustainability of those earnings.

"You’ve been hearing comments that earnings season is going to show a continued contraction in the rate of growth," said Robert Pavlik of Banyan Partners. "People are conflicted, they are worried, but at the same time they don’t want to be missing out on the action in the overall market."

Currently, analysts expect fourth quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies to grow at a rate of 3.3 percent, according to the latest data from S&P Capital IQ. That’s a better growth rate than the previous quarter, but it’s considerably weaker that the 8.4 percent growth rate recorded in the same period last year.