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US STOCKS-S&P 500 eyes fresh record led by Microsoft, Amazon

Rodrigo Campos
Friday, 25 Oct 2013 | 10:45 AM ET

* Durable goods rise but ex-transport figure disappoints

* Amazon, Microsoft, Zynga rally after results

* Indexes up: Dow 0.1 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct

NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged up on Friday, with the S&P 500 on track to close at an all-time high as results from Amazon and Microsoft sent those stocks soaring.

The S&P's yearly gain was just short of the 23.5 percent advance in 2009. A bigger gain this year would be the index's largest in a decade.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue its $85 billion a month bond-purchase program will likely provide a floor for stock prices into 2014.

"The market has focused on good news stories, be it revenue or earnings, so there will be a positive impact from Microsoft and Amazon," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"The backdrop is the lack of competition to equities from fixed income and this extended period of low interest rates," he said. "Investors feel they have no alternative but to be in equities."

Microsoft Corp was the leading points gainer on both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 as it cruised past Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and revenue Thursday. Shares rose 6.6 percent to $35.93.

Amazon shares were posting their largest daily gain since late April 2012 after the online retailer posted a narrower quarterly loss and grew sales by a better-than-expected 24 percent. Shares jumped 9.6 percent to $364.16 after hitting a record high of $368.40.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.5 points or 0.09 percent, to 15,523.71, the S&P 500 gained 1.5 points or 0.09 percent, to 1,753.57 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.065 points or 0.38 percent, to 3,944.025.

United Parcel Service hit a record high at $96.94 after posting a bigger quarterly profit and said it expects online sales to boost holiday volume. Shares were up 0.2 percent to $94.70.

Zynga said it expects a full-year profit after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results due to cost-cutting and a renewed focus on mobile games and core franchises. Shares jumped 12.8 percent to $3.99.

Dow component DuPont jumped to a more than 13 year high a day after announcing it will spin off its titanium dioxide unit within 18 months, yielding to intense pressure from Wall Street to divest the volatile business. Shares hit $62.69 and were recently up 0.3 percent at $61.54.

New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods outside of transportation equipment fell in September, possibly due to uncertainty over government spending, while a surge in aircraft orders helped boost the headline durable goods number by 3.7 percent last month, more than expected.

In other data the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories rose 0.5 percent in August, the biggest increase since January. The government also said inventories rose more than initially estimated in July.

U.S. consumer sentiment dropped in October to its lowest level since the end of last year as consumers worried Congressional dysfunction and the resulting partial federal government shutdown would hurt growth.

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