* Jobless claims fall, housing starts accelerate
* EBay gains after results beat expectations
* Bank of America, Citigroup shares fall after results
* Indexes up: S&P 0.5 pct, Dow 0.4 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Jan 17 Wall Street rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a five-year intraday high, as investors were cheered by rosy economic data and better-than-expected results from online marketplace eBay.
In encouraging signs for the labor and housing sectors, data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week, while residential construction jumped in December.
"It reminds us that although the situation on the job front hasn't improved significantly, slowly but surely it is getting better," said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, in New York.
EBay's shares rose 3 percent to $54.50 a day after it reported holiday quarter results that just beat Wall Street expectations. It gave a 2013 forecast that was within analysts' estimates.
The S&P climbed above an intraday peak set in September to its highest since December 2007.
Gains were capped by weakness in the financial sector, with Bank of America and Citigroup down more than 2 percent following results.
Bank of America's fourth-quarter profit fell as it took more charges to clean up mortgage-related problems. Citigroup posted $2.32 billion of charges for layoffs and lawsuits, while its new chief executive cautioned the bank needed more time to deal with its problems.
Bank of America fell 3.7 percent to $11.36, while Citigroup dropped 2.3 percent to $41.50.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 61.49 points, or 0.46 percent, to 13,572.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 6.36 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,478.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 18.19 points, or 0.58 percent, to 3,135.73.
Overall, S&P 500 corporate earnings for the fourth quarter are expected to see a 2.3 percent gain, Thomson Reuters data showed. Expectations for the quarter have moderated significantly since October.
With investors anticipating the current earnings season to be lackluster, their focus will be on the corporate earnings outlook for the months ahead, analysts said.
Shares of Boeing extended recent declines after the United States and other countries grounded the company's new 787 Dreamliner after a second incident involving battery failure. That comes in the wake of a series of other recent mishaps that have raised safety-related concerns about the aircraft. Boeing slipped 0.8 percent to $73.77 and is down nearly 2 percent for the week so far.
Our top photos from the last 24 hours.