By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 resumed its record-breaking climb on Friday and was on track for its best weekly gain in more than three months, boosted by earnings from Google, Morgan Stanley and other big companies.
Google Inc(NSQ:GOOG - News) was the top performer on both the S&P and Nasdaq 100 indexes, surging to a record high of $1,007.19 a share a day after it delivered forecast-beating results. The shares recently traded up 12.5 percent to $1,000.25 while the S&P technology sector gained 1.4 percent.
Wall Street was also boosted by growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will delay trimming its stimulus measures due to the damage inflicted on the economy by the partial U.S. government shutdown that ended on Thursday.
"There are a couple of companies that are doing well and God bless them, but is that the rule or the exception?" said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts.
The S&P 500 was on pace for its third straight gain and seventh climb out of the last eight sessions. The benchmark index earlier this week was boosted by investor hopes Washington would reach a deal to end the fiscal stalemate, and gains were underpinned on Friday by the outlook for continued easy monetary policy from the Fed.
"The presumption is we are going to see continued stimulus more than we would have - the Fed is still there, the punchbowl is still out, the party is going to continue," McMillan said.
Morgan Stanley(NYS:MS - News) shares rose 2.5 percent to $29.64 after the company reported a 50 percent rise in quarterly revenue as higher income from equities sales and trading offset a drop in its fixed-income business.
General Electric Co(NYS:GE - News) shares rose 3.5 percent to $25.55 following results. It was the best performer on the blue chip Dow index, although declines in Home Depot(NYS:HD - News), down 1.2 percent to $74.82, and UnitedHealth(UNH.N), off 4.6 percent to $68.10, kept the Dow near the unchanged mark.
GE said its third-quarter profit and revenue fell amid a shrinking finance business and negative effects of foreign currency exchange rates, but Wall Street looked beyond those numbers to GE's improving profit margins and growing order demand.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 4.37 points or 0.03 percent, to 15,367.28, the S&P 500 gained 6.93 points or 0.4 percent, to 1,740.08, and the Nasdaq Composite added 34.918 points or 0.9 percent, to 3,898.064.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Friday morning, of the 98 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported quarterly earnings so far, 62.2 percent have topped Wall Street expectations, just shy of the 63 percent average since 1994 and below the 66 percent beat rate over the past four quarters.
On a revenue basis, 53.1 percent of the S&P 500 components have beaten expectations, short of the 61 percent rate since 2002 but above the 49 percent beat rate over the past four quarters.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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