Jan. 17, 2013 at 10:26 AM ET
Stocks are moving higher on Wall Street, pushing the Standard and Poor's 500 to another five-year high.
Strong reports on housing starts and claims for unemployment benefits made investors more optimistic about the U.S. economy.
The S&P 500 rose three points to 1,476 shortly after the opening bell Thursday, its highest level since December 2007.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 31 points to 13,542. The Nasdaq composite rose 11 points to 3,128.
U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008. The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a five-year low last week.
Citigroup fell 3 percent after its earnings missed Wall Street's forecasts by a wide margin.
Among several financial companies due to release results, Bank of America reported its fourth-quarter profit fell from a year ago as it took more charges to clean up mortgage-related problems stemming from the financial crisis. Its shares slipped 0.5 percent to $11.72 in heavy premarket trading.
EBay's shares rose, a day after it reported holiday quarter results that just beat Wall Street expectations. It gave a 2013 forecast that was within analysts' estimates.
Solid earnings from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday helped lift estimates for S&P 500 corporate earnings slightly to a 2.2 percent gain, Thomson Reuters data showed.
But expectations have come down significantly from where they were in October. With investors anticipating a lackluster earnings season, the focus will be on the corporate earnings outlook for the months ahead, analysts said.
"That gives you a bigger picture of where the economy might be headed. I think you have to stitch together all the information and get a true picture of how robust the economies of the world are," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
"We've all dismissed what's going to happen in this fourth quarter. Estimates are pretty low, the companies that can't step over the lower bar are probably going to get punished."
Shares of Boeing extended a recent slump after the United States and other countries grounded the new 787 Dreamliner following a second incident involving battery failure.