US STOCKS-S&P 500 hits record; indexes on track for strong Feb gains
* S&P 500 at record, on track for strong gains for February
* Fourth-quarter GDP, pending home sales miss expectations
* Jos. A. Bank rejects buyout offer, but willing to talk
* Indexes up: Dow 0.7 pct, S&P 0.7 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Friday and the S&P 500 hit an intraday record for a second time this week as consumer confidence and other data bucked the recent trend of weaker economic reports.
All three major U.S. indexes were on track for sharp gains for the month, as well, with the S&P 500 headed for its best monthly percentage gain since July, while the Dow Jones industrial average was on pace for its best month since January 2013.
The final February reading on consumer sentiment from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers rose more than expected, while the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index rose to 59.8 in February, also ahead of expectations.
"I think the surprise came in some of the economic data today ... which held up nicely," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. "That's probably why we're seeing the market act the way we're seeing today. Continued...