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US STOCKS-Wall St up, Dow and S&P on pace for 7 weeks of gains

Luke Swiderski
Friday, 22 Nov 2013 | 2:49 PM ET

* Biogen, Gilead lead health-sector gains

* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 500 up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.5 pct

NEW YORK, Nov 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, led by healthcare stocks, putting the Dow and S&P 500 on track for a seventh straight week of gains.

The Dow extended gains beyond Thursday's 16,009 close and the S&P 500 reached an intraday high above 1,800.

The Nasdaq Biotech Index rose 2.6 percent, driven by a surge in Biogen Idec.

Shares of Biogen shot up 11.9 percent on heavy volume to $282.37 after the company won 10 years of exclusivity protection for its multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, from regulators in Europe.

"Healthcare is the place to be. It's a hot area. People want stocks in healthcare, industrials and consumer discretionary. That's where tactical investors have been focused, and that's where the money has been flowing," said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc in San Antonio, Texas.

The S&P 500 healthcare sector has gained 37.5 percent so far in 2013, making it the S&P's best-performing sector this year.

European regulators also recommended approval of a new drug for hepatitis C from Gilead Sciences, which lifted its shares 3.7 percent to $74.26.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 35.54 points or 0.22 percent, to 16,045.53, the S&P 500 gained 7.2 points or 0.4 percent, to 1,803.05 and the Nasdaq Composite added 20.496 points or 0.52 percent, to 3,989.651.

The gains follow the Dow's first close above 16,000 on Thursday as encouraging economic data overcame concerns about when the Federal Reserve might scale back its stimulus.

The Dow is on track to end a seventh straight week of gains, the longest streak since an eight-week rally between December 2010 and January 2011.

Dennis Lockhart, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said on CNBC that reducing the pace of the central bank's bond-buying program will be on the table at its December policy meeting. He added that monetary policy is likely to be very accommodative for some time.

Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co., in Lake Oswego, Oregon, said that "the market has basically geared itself now, knowing the Fed will be discussing tapering. Most likely, the timetable remains somewhat indefinite, but the topic is on the table, and prices have adjusted accordingly.

"In the meantime, $85 billion a month keeps swirling into investor hands, and some of that finds its way out into the financial markets, including the stock market," Dickson added.

Intel fell 5.2 percent to $23.92 and was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 after analysts questioned whether the chipmaker can get higher-margin chips into tablets and smartphones in contrast with traditional PCs.

Shares of Splunk Inc jumped almost 21 percent to $72.39 a day after the data analytics software maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results and raised its full-year revenue forecast.

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BIIB
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GROW
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GILD
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