US STOCKS-S&P 500 hits record; indexes on track for strong Feb gains

Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:36pm EST

* 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.

"I think February is going to go out like a lion."

In other economic data, however, the U.S. government cut its estimate for fourth-quarter growth. Some investors have blamed harsh weather for recent weak economic data, and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Thursday gave some support to this theory.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 116.75 points or 0.72 percent, to 16,389.4, the S&P 500 gained 12.57 points or 0.68 percent, to 1,866.86. The S&P 500 hit an intraday record of 1,867.89.

The Nasdaq Composite added 15.949 points or 0.37 percent, to 4,334.882.

Citigroup Inc lowered its previously announced 2013 net income from $13.9 billion to $13.7 billion due to recently discovered fraud at a unit in Mexico. Shares rose 0.6 percent to $48.97.

Among the day's top percentage gainers, Monster Beverage shares rose 5.5 percent to $75.03 a day after reporting results.

Salesforce.com Inc late Thursday raised its full-year revenue forecast but its profit forecast was largely below estimates. Shares fell 4.5 percent to $63.23.

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc late Thursday rejected Men's Wearhouse Inc's revised takeover offer, calling it inadequate, though it was willing to talk about a higher bid. Shares of Jos. A. Bank rose 3.1 percent to $62.19 while Men's Wearhouse was up 6.8 percent at $53.86.