US STOCKS-Wall St gains on Fed hopes; Amazon.com up after the bell

Reuters

* Ford up after results; AT&T, Dow Chemical lower

* PulteGroup, other homebuilder stocks gain

* Federal Reserve seen keeping stimulus for several months

* Indexes up: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks resumed theirupward move on Thursday as economic data underscored views U.S.monetary stimulus will be in place for the foreseeable futureand as earnings offered some upbeat news.

Shares of PulteGroup Inc jumped after thehomebuilder reported results and said a slowdown in new homeorders would be "short-lived." Its shares jumped 7 percent to$17.85 and were the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500,while shares of D.R. Horton Inc rose 2.1 percent to$19.87 and Beazer Homes Inc added 1.5 percent to $19.41.

Economic data showed initial claims for state unemploymentbenefits fell less than expected in the latest week, thoughanalysts noted a backlog of applications in California. OnTuesday, data showed that employers added fewer jobs thanexpected in September.

The day's data also included a preliminary look at Markit'sOctober Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, which grew atits slowest pace in a year while factory output contracted forthe first time since late 2009.

Expectations the Fed will continue its stimulus have helpedstocks all year, with the S&P 500 index up 22.8 percent so farfor 2013.

The S&P 500 declined on Wednesday, ending its four-sessionstreak of record high finishes. Last week's legislation to avoida debt default and end a partial government shutdown gave way toa relief rally and speculation that the Federal Reserve willdelay scaling back its stimulus for several months.

"You've got this underlying liquidity surge that's proppingprices up, and earnings season hasn't been poor," said BuckyHellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management inBirmingham, Alabama.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 95.88 points,or 0.62 percent, at 15,509.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 5.69 points, or 0.33 percent, at 1,752.07. TheNasdaq Composite Index was up 21.89 points, or 0.56percent, at 3,928.96.

After the bell, Twitter said it intends to sell70 million shares priced between $17 and $20 in an initialpublic offering that will value the company at as much as $10.9billion.

Ford shares rose 1.4 percent to $17.76 after theautomaker boosted its full-year global earnings and marginoutlook, helped by an improved forecast in Europe andbetter-than-expected third quarter results.

Also on the rise were Apple shares, up 1.3 percentat $531.91, after investor Carl Icahn, in a public letter toApple Chief Executive Tim Cook, called on Apple to commence a$150 billion share buyback immediately.

Third-quarter earnings overall has had its disappointments,including some weak outlooks and just 53 percent of companies sofar beating analysts' revenue expectations, below the long-termaverage of 61 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

About 68 percent of companies are beating analysts' earningsexpectations, above the 63 percent long-term average.

Among the day's decliners were Dow Chemical Co,Xerox Corp

AT&T, a Dow component, fell 1.8 percent to $34.63 while DowChemical lost 1 percent to $40.62. Xerox slumped 10.4 percent to$9.61 after a weak outlook.

Shares of Symantec Corp dropped 12.7 percent to$21.49 after it reported lower-than-expected second-quarterrevenue and forecast current-quarter results below expectations.

Also after the bell, shares of both Amazon.com andMicrosoft jumped after posting results. Amazon.comgained 7.8 percent to $358.10 after it posted a narrowerquarterly loss and stronger-than-expected sales.

Shares of Microsoft rose 5.6 percent to $35.60 after itsprofit rose more than expected.

DuPont shares climbed 3 percent to $63.20 after thebell. The company said it will spin off its titanium dioxideunit and related businesses.

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