A survey of small businesses showed hiring remained flat in January, while openings for hard-to-fill jobs increased slightly.
The pace of growth in the services sector posted a surprising acceleration in January, hitting its highest level in almost a year, according to the Institute for Supply Management. And factory orders climbed for a second month, according to the Commerce Department.
“We’re optimistic on the equity markets for the rest of the year—the economic data will continue to surprise to the upside as will earnings," said Paul Zemsky, CIO of multi-asset strategies at ING Investment Management. "Our sense is that there will be a little bit of congestion in the 1,350 area [on the S&P 500], but we’ll break through and hit 1,400 by the end of the second quarter.”
European shares ralliedafter UK services PMI jumped to a 10-month high. And negotiations over the Greek debt deal continued, with Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos warning that the European Central Bank must take part in Greece's hoped-for debt swap.
Meanwhile, rumors swirled that Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos may resign if talks for further austerity fail, which would jeopardize the whole bailout process.
Micron shares were halted following news that CEO Steve Appleton died in a small plane accidentin Boise, Idaho. Appleton served as CEO of the semiconductor firm from 1994.
The tragic news comes after President and COO Mark Durcan said last week he will retire at the end of August.
New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused JPMorgan Chase, BofA and Wells Fargo over 'deceptive' and 'fraudulent' foreclosure filings. Still, shares of the financial giants still held their strong gains.
On the earnings front, Tyson Foods gained after the meat processor posted earnings that easily topped estimates.
Genworth surged almost 15 percent after the insurer swung to a profit, as fewer Americans defaulted on the home loans it insures.
Gilead Sciences posted lower-than-expected earnings, but shares still jumped after the biopharmaceutical company announced promising early results from a trial of its experimental hepatitis C drug. At least three brokerages boosted their price targets on the firm.
Edwards Lifesciences slumped after the medical device maker posted revenue that fell short of forecasts.
And Estee Lauder posted results that met expectations, but shares of the skin-care products maker slumped after handing in an outlook that was below current projections.
Menawhile, Urban Outfitters jumped after the apparel retailer said Tedford Marlow will return to the company as CEO. This comes after the firm said co-founder Rich Hayne would replace Glen Senk as CEO in a surprise move last month.
A number of casual restaurant chains, ready-made food and beverage companies traded higher ahead of the Super Bowl gamethis Sunday. Buffalo Wild Wings , Boston Beer and Texas Roadhouse were up almost 3 percent each.
—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: twitter.com/JeeYeonParkCNBC—
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Earnings from Hasbro, Humana, Yum Brands
TUESDAY: 3-yr note auction, consumer credit; Earnings from BP, Coca-Cola, Toyota, UBS, Disney, Hartford Financial, Panera Bread
WEDNESDAY: Mortgage applications, oil inventories, Fed's Williams speaks, 10-yr note auction; Earnings from Sanofi, CVS Caremark, Sprint Nextel, Time Warner, Cisco, Groupon, Visa, WholeFoods
THURSDAY: BoE announcement, ECB announcement, jobless claims, wholesale trade, 30-yr bond auction; Earnings from PepsiCo, Rio Tinto, Vodafone, Credit Suisse, Sirius XM Radio, Dunkin' Brands, Petrobras, Activision Blizzard, Expedia, LinkedIn
FRIDAY: International trade, consumer sentiment; Earnings from Barclays
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