Stocks rise, putting the S&P 500 on track for a third straight week of gains; Priceline climbs

The Associated Press

Trader Sal Suarino works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. U.S. stocks are inching higher in early trading, putting the Standard & Poor's 500 index on track for its third straight week of gains. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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By STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 index toward its third straight week of gains. Online travel booking company Priceline.com climbed after reporting strong earnings.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,844 as of 11:07 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 38 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,172. The Nasdaq composite rose 13 points, or 0.9 percent, 4,280.

ALMOST BACK: After a 3.5 percent climb this month, the S&P 500 has reversed almost all of its loss this year. The stock market has been boosted by decent corporate earnings reports for the fourth quarter and optimism that the economy will start to pull out of its winter slump as the weather improves. Stocks dropped in the first five weeks of the year amid concern about slowing growth in China and other emerging markets.

GAINING ALTITUDE: Priceline.com climbed $42.35, or 3.3 percent, to $1,325.50 after the online travel company reported earnings that exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

BAD DEAL: Groupon slumped $1.74, or 16.9 percent, to $8.53 after the online deals company said it expects to post a loss this quarter. The company also issued a weak outlook for the year. Groupon is ramping up its marketing campaign and expects 2014 earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation to be only slightly higher than last year.

STOCK MARKDOWN: Nordstrom fell 70 cents, or 1.2 percent after the high-end retailer said that discounts during the holiday shopping season and costs associated with expanding its Nordstrom Rack chain hurt its profits during the crucial holiday period.

WORLD MARKETS: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 2.9 percent to 14,865 after that nation's central bank signaled its lavish monetary stimulus could continue for longer than the two years anticipated by investors.

TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.76 percent from 2.75 percent Thursday. The price of oil fell 50 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $102.25 a barrel. Gold rose $6, or 0.5 percent, to $1,322.60 an ounce.

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