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Stocks sink, pushing S&P 500 down from 5-year high

By STEVE ROTHWELL and MATTHEW CRAFT Published: January 8, 2013

The S&P 500 closed at a five-year high Friday after a report showed that hiring held up in December during the tense fiscal negotiations in Washington, with employers adding 155,000 jobs in the month. Market indexes soared at the start of last week as lawmakers passed a bill to avoid a combination of government spending cuts and tax increases that came to be known as the “fiscal cliff.” The law passed late Tuesday night avoided the full force of the budget cuts, which could have dragged the economy into a recession.

Investors are now shifting their focus to corporate profits. Aluminum producer Alcoa launches the reporting season for the fourth quarter of 2012 after the market closes on Tuesday.

Analysts forecast that companies in the S&P 500 will report that quarterly earnings increased 3.3 percent compared with the same period the year before, according to S&P Capital IQ. But all the events that took place in the last three months of 2012 -- Superstorm Sandy, the presidential election, and worries about the narrowly avoided “fiscal cliff” -- could make for some surprises.

In other trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 1.90 percent. The yield on the note hit an eight-month high of 1.97 percent in intraday trading Friday, according to prices from Tradeweb, an operator of fixed-income markets.

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