Stock market climbs to 5-year high

The stock market clung to meager gains this morning as investors exhaled after rallying the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 to five-year highs on Friday.

The S&P 500 closed above 1,500 for the first time Friday since Dec. 10, 2007, and the Dow finished within 30 points of breaking 14,000.

It was the fourth straight week that the stock market gained ground.

The Dow’s all-time high of14,164.53 was hit on Oct. 9, 2007.

Caterpillar Inc. weighed on the Dow today by announcing that its fourth-quarter profit dropped 55 under the weight of lower sales of machinery and a write-down for a Chinese mining-equipment company.

Fourth-quarter income for the world’s sales leader in bulldozers, excavators and other earth-moving machinery was below analysts’ expectations after the company disclosed an $850 million impairment charge on Jan. 18 for ERA Mining Machinery Ltd. Caterpillar attributed the charge to “accounting misconduct” at ERA designed to overstate profitability before Caterpillar acquired the company last June for about $700 million.

Caterpillar’s world mining headquarters are based in Oak Creek.

For the fourth quarter, Caterpillar reported a profit of $697 million, or $1.04 per share, down from $1.55 billion, or $2.32 per share, a year earlier. Overall revenue, which includes Caterpillar’s finance unit, decreased 6.8 percent to $16.08 billion. Caterpillar offered a tepid outlook for 2013 that includes a wide-ranging profit forecast reflecting the company’s uncertainty about equipment demand in 2013. The company projected profit of $7 to $9 per share on revenue of $60 billion to $68 billion.

“We’re encouraged by recent improvements in economic indicators, but remain cautious,” said Caterpillar chairman and chief executive officer Doug Oberhelman. “While we expect some improvement in the U.S. economy, growth is expected to be relatively weak.”

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