Investors eye earnings after Dow tops 12,000

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Investors will be watching to see if the stock market can sustain its rally Wednesday, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average closed at its highest level in 2 1/2 years.

The Dow closed above 12,000 on Tuesday for the first time since June 2008. Another major market index, the Standard & Poor’s 500, closed above 1,300 for the first time since August 2008. A strong manufacturing report and positive earnings from companies such as UPS and Pfizer drove stocks higher.

Another round of earnings will likely sway stocks Wednesday.

Time Warner Inc. rose 3.5 percent ahead of the opening bell after the owner of Warner Bros., HBO and CNN said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 22 percent. The company also offered a forecast for 2011 that topped analysts’ estimates.

Mattel Inc. rose 5 percent in pre-market trading after the nation’s largest toymaker said its revenue rose 9 percent on strong sales of Barbie and Fisher-Price toys.

Hershey rose 1 percent ahead of the opening after the candy maker said its fourth-quarter profit increased nearly 7 percent thanks to brisk holiday sales in the U.S. and growth in emerging markets. The company also raised its quarterly dividend.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow futures are down 24, or 0.2 percent, at 11,950. S&P 500 index future are down 4, or 0.3 percent, at 1,299. Nasdaq 100 index futures are down 5, or 0.2 percent, at 2,313.

Treasury prices are rising, pushing their yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.40 percent from 3.43 percent late Tuesday.

Payroll processor ADP reported that private companies added 187,000 jobs in January, more than the 145,000 that economists were expecting.

“This jobs report is very positive,” said Curvin Miller, vice president of Russell & Co., a wealth advisory firm. “This job growth we’re seeing is predictable and it’s increasing in strength.”

The most important report on the job market comes Friday when the Labor Department puts out its monthly survey of payrolls. Economists caution that ADP’s figures usually differ from the government’s – sometimes by a wide margin.