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Trader Sal Suarino works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. U.S. stocks are inching higher in early trading, putting the Standard & Poor's 500 index on track for its third straight week of gains. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
S&P 500 index is on track for a third weekly gain
First Published Feb 21 2014 01:01 pm • Last Updated Feb 21 2014 01:01 pm

New York » Stocks rose, pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 index toward its third straight week of gains. Online travel booking company Priceline.com climbed after reporting strong earnings. Groupon plunged after predicting a loss.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,843 as of 1:21 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,159. The Nasdaq composite rose 10 points, or 0.3 percent, 4,278.

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ALMOST BACK: After a 3.4 percent climb this month, the S&P 500 has reversed almost all of its loss this year. The stock market has been boosted by decent corporate earnings for the fourth quarter and optimism that the economy will start to pull out of its winter slump as the weather improves. Stocks dropped in the first five weeks of the year amid concern about slowing growth in China and other emerging markets.

GIVING IT A PASS: Stocks have advanced even as the economic data has remained mixed. Stocks climbed Friday even though sales of existing U.S. homes plummeted in January to the worst pace in 18 months. Cold weather, limited supplies of homes on the market and higher buying costs held back purchases. Despite the mixed data, investors are still confident that the economy will continue to recover this year, said Andres Garcia-Amaya, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.

"The market believes, fundamentally, the story hasn’t changed," said with Andres Garcia-Amaya, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.

GAINING ALTITUDE: Priceline.com climbed $37.02, or 2.9 percent, to $1,320 after the online travel company reported earnings that exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts, as bookings for hotels, rental cars and airline tickets accelerated.

TAX SEASON: Intuit, the maker of Quicken, TurboTax and other financial software, rose $3.63, or 4.9 percent, to $77.48 after the company raised its earnings forecast for its fiscal third quarter. The company said it was off to a good start in tax season and that electronic tax filings using its TurboTax product were up 10 percent as of Feb. 14, better than the overall 6.6 percent increase for electronic tax filings over the same period.

BAD DEAL: Groupon slumped $2.06, or 20 percent, to $8.21 after the online deals company said it expects to post a loss this quarter. The company also issued a weak outlook for the year. Groupon is ramping up its marketing campaign and expects 2014 pre-tax earnings to be only slightly higher than last year.

WORLD MARKETS: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 2.9 percent to 14,865 after that nation’s central bank signaled its lavish monetary stimulus could continue for longer than the two years anticipated by investors.

TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.74 percent from 2.75 percent on Thursday . The price of oil fell 46 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $102.29 a barrel. Gold rose $7.10, or 0.5 percent, to $1,323.90 an ounce.


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