US STOCKS-Wall St gains on GDP data; on track for strong week

Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:14pm EST
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* Dow on track for best week since January

* Red Hat and BlackBerry ADRs rally after results

* Final GDP reading tops expectations

* Dow up 0.6 pct, S&P 500 up 0.8 pct, Nasdaq up 1.3 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its best week in five months, as unexpectedly strong data on economic growth increased confidence that the recovery was accelerating.

Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in the third quarter, the fastest pace in almost two years, and exceeding the 3.6 percent pace reported earlier this month. Business spending was also stronger than previously estimated.

Until recently, investors have viewed positive data as a negative, as it suggested that the Federal Reserve would begin to trim its stimulus program. The central bank had said it would start tapering its monthly bond buying when certain economic indicators met its targets.

The Fed, however, on Wednesday said it would pare its market-friendly monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion, starting in January. It also suggested that its key interest rate would stay at rock bottom longer than previously promised.   Continued...