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Stocks Gain, Boosted By P&G, Starbucks Earnings

By STEVE ROTHWELL

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Stocks rose on Wall Street in afternoon trading Friday after Procter & Gamble and Starbucks posted strong earnings reports, putting the Standard & Poor's 500 index on track for its longest winning streak since 2004.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 53 points to 13,878 as of 2:21 p.m. Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 advanced seven points to 1,502. The Nasdaq gained 20 points to 3,151.

The S&P 500 broke through 1,500 Thursday for the first time since December 2007, following a drop in claims for unemployment benefits that added to evidence that the labor market is healing. The index is headed for an eighth consecutive gain, which would be the longest winning streak since November 2004.

Procter & Gamble, world's largest consumer products maker, gained $2.49 to $72.91 after reporting that its quarterly income more than doubled. P&G also raised its profit forecast for its full fiscal year. Starbucks rose $2.40 to $56.97 after reporting a 13 percent increase in profits.

"Earnings are growing," said Joe Tanious, a global market strategist at JPMorgan. "The bottom line is that corporate America is doing exceptionally well."

Tanious expects corporate earnings to grow at about 5 percent over the "next year or two," and stock valuations to rise. Currently, the S&P 500 is trading at an average price-to-earnings ratio of 14, below an average of 15.1 for the last decade, according to FactSet data.

Apple continued to decline, allowing Exxon Mobil to once again surpass the electronics giant as the world's most valuable publicly traded company. Apple fell 1 percent to $444.26, following a 12 percent drop on Thursday, the biggest one-day percentage drop for the company since 2008, after Apple forecast slower sales. The stock is now $257.84, or 37 percent, below the record high of $702.10 it reached Sept. 19.

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