Strong Earnings Lift Wall Street But GDP Weighs

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(REUTERS) -- Stocks edged higher on Friday, again driven by strong corporate earnings that partially offset a weaker-than-expected reading on economic growth, extending three days of gains.

Both Amazon.com Inc. and Expedia Inc. reported profits that topped consensus estimates. Expedia surged 27 percent to $41.50 and was the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500, followed by Amazon, which climbed 14.7 percent to $224.38.

With 287 S&P 500 companies reporting, about 73 percent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Economic data has been mixed in recent days and was reflected in the latest report on growth. First-quarter gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate, below the forecast of 2.5 percent.

Earnings have been spectacular, and that's a shot in the arm to investors, but GDP is acting as a counterweight, said David Dietze, president and chief investment strategist at Summit, New Jersey-based Point View Wealth Management.

When coupled with other weak data, the ghost of a slowdown starts to loom and that's causing investors to pause a little despite better-than-expected results from blue chips like Amazon.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 29.48 points, or 0.22 percent, at 13,234.10. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.10 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,402.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.59 points, or 0.38 percent, at 3,062.20.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both on track for their best weeks in a month. A blowout quarter from Apple Inc. gave the Nasdaq its best day of the year earlier this week.

The moves in the indexes have wiped out much of April's losses. After three days of gains, the S&P is well above its 50-day moving average.

Procter & Gamble Co. cut its full-year profit view and posted lower earnings. Shares fell 3.5 percent to $64.55, the biggest percentage decliner on the Dow.

Earnings at both Chevron Corp. and Merck & Co. came in slightly above estimates. Merck shares dipped 0.2 percent at $38.39 as its revenue trailed the Wall Street view, while Chevron was 0.5 percent lower at $105.72.

Ford Motor Co.'s results surpassed expectations as its North American unit reported its best profit in at least 12 years. But the stock fell 1.4 percent to $11.70 after executives said it lost U.S. market share in April.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment inched up to 76.4 from 76.2 in March. Despite the small gain, it was the highest level since February 2011.

Earlier in the week, reports showed jobless claims data remained above levels from earlier this year, while demand for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods tumbled by the most in three years in March.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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