U.S. stocks rose on Thursday after bellwether FedEx offered a bullish forecast, while investors continued to pour money into shares that have done well this year.

Package shipper FedEx Corp raised its full-year outlook on unexpectedly strong holiday volume and an improved economic view, though it reported quarterly profit and revenue that missed expectations.

Shares of FedEx rose 1.9 percent to $94.15, helping the S&P industrials sector index <.GSPI> gain 1.1 percent and helping to lift the Dow Jones Transportation Average <.DJT> by 1.4 percent. For details, see [ID:nN16208769]

The fact that FedEx missed its earnings is overshadowed by its very strong outlook, which is a good indicator that we're looking for good economic times ahead, said Kimberly Foss, president at the Sacramento, California-based Empyrion Wealth Management, which has more than $200 mln in assets under management.

Stocks gained momentum after a slow start to the day, with big gainers for the year boosting the Nasdaq.

Intuit Inc , best known for its tax-filing software TurboTax, gained 2.9 percent to $49.30 after rising about 60 percent for the year.

Amazon.com Inc rose 1.4 percent to $178.10 with the stock, up 32 percent for the year, also helped by investors' hopes that consumers will be less frugal over the holiday shopping season, which could benefit Amazon.

While we expect the market to continue growing, the slower growth we expect is going to be good for those companies that execute well, but challenging for the ones that have been struggling, said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist, RidgeWorth Investments in Richmond, Virginia.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 32.28 points, or 0.28 percent, at 11,489.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 6.08 points, or 0.49 percent, at 1,241.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 16.55 points, or 0.63 percent, at 2,633.77.

Also on the Nasdaq, Starbucks Corp rose 2.2 percent to $32.58 after Goldman Sachs resumed coverage of the restaurant sector and gave the coffee chain a conviction buy rating with a $44 price target.

Economic data added to the positive backdrop, with factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region unexpectedly rising in December, while jobless claims dipped for a second week. November housing starts rose, but permits for future home construction dropped to a 1-1/2 year low.

However, worries over sovereign debt persisted after Spain paid a hefty premium at its final bond auction of the year. Also, the European Central Bank increased its financial firepower in the debt crisis by almost doubling its capital to cope with increased credit risk and market volatility.

Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc both tumbled after the Federal Reserve staff proposed a 12-cent cap on debit card fees. Visa dropped 6.2 percent to $72.10 while MasterCard lost 5.7 percent to $235.

Discover Financial Services fell 3.2 percent to $18.52 after reporting its fourth-quarter results.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)