Less than an hour into trading the Dow spiked 140 points, or 1%, to hit 14,000.97. In mid-afternoon trading, the Dow rallied further, tacking on 150 points. The move leaves the Dow around 200 points, or 2%, from its all-time high of 14,198.10.
Friday's strong showing came on the heels of the Dow's strongest January (up 5.8%) since 1994.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index, which logged its best January since 1997, added 15 points, or just shy of 1%. The Nasdaq advanced 40.
The robust rally followed a lackluster report on the job market which gave "strength to the argument that the Fed will continue its bond buying program and keep rates low, which is also a positive for the stock market," Tom Schrader, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus told CNN Money.
That sentiment also gave bonds and precious metals a boost. Gold prices moved up $7 to $1,670. Silver added 37 cents to $31.94
A bevy of reports helped buoy markets Friday.
A Census Bureau report showed construction rose 0.9% in December, well above forecasts. The Institute for Supply Management's monthly manufacturing index rose to 53.1 in January, ahead of the expected 50.5 read, and the University of Michigan's sentiment index climbed to 73.8 last month, better than the expected 71.4.
Stock Market Today: Zoetis, Exxon, Dell in Focus
Shares began trading Friday in Zoetis Inc. (NYSE: ZTS), the largest animal-medicine company in the world by revenue. The Madison, NJ-based company is owned by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE). The initial public offering raised $2.2 billion, valuing the company around $13 billion. Shares were priced at $26, well above the target range of $22-$25.
Shares of Zoetis jumped 18.95%, or $4.74, to $30.75. Parent company Pfizer also got a shot in the arm, rising almost 2% to $27.75.
Facebook, still reeling from a deluge of downgrades after its earnings report, continued its downward slide, shedding 2.75%.
Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) inched higher after the Dow component reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue. Gains were tempered by a decline in energy production levels. The oil behemoth, last trading around $90, regained its top spot last week as the world's most valuable company amid Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) steep fall.
Shares of Apple, which peaked at $705 just a few months ago, have now dipped to a five-month low. Shares edged lower on Friday as concerns continued to mount that rivals are taking away market share. The iPhone maker was last changing hands at $455.
Meanwhile, computer maker Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) rose nearly 3% after a report from Reuters said the PC maker is nearing a deal to go private as soon as Monday.
Buffalo Wild Wings (Nasdaq: BWLD) was dealt a nice hand following an upgrade from KeyBanc to "Buy" from "Hold." The firm gave the owner, operator and franchisor of restaurants a lofty $85 price target. Shares of BWLD gained 3.17% to $75.88.
BWLD is also relishing in the excitement surrounding Sunday's Super Bowl.
According to the National Chicken Council 2013 Wing Report forecast, more than 1.23 billion chicken wings will be consumed this weekend as fans watch the San Francisco 49ers go head-to-head with the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans for the coveted win and Super Bowl XLVII title.
Which brings us to the Super Bowl stock market indicator.
If a team from the original National Football League (pre-1970 merger), now the NFC, wins the Super Bowl, the stock market will enjoy a bullish year.
This year is looking good for those who follow this rather reliable indicator (76% accuracy). The 49ers hail from the NFC and the Ravens originated from another NFC team, the Cleveland Browns.
By 3:30 p.m. the Dow had slipped to 13,997.10
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