* Burger King profit jumps, shares follow
* Herbalife shares soar after Icahn discloses ownership
* Indexes: Dow, S&P and Nasdaq up 0.1 percent
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 15 U.S. stocks rose slightly
Friday with the S&P 500 gaining for a seventh week in the wake
of upbeat consumer sentiment data, though thin trading and the
modest rise showed a continuing trend of a consolidating market
after strong recent gains.
The S&P 500, up nearly 7 percent so far this year, is facing
strong technical resistance near the 1,525 level. But investors,
expecting the index to advance further in the quarter, have held
back from locking in profits.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary
reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment rose to 76.3
in February from 73.8 in January, topping economists' forecasts
"This is unexpected given the increase in gas prices and
payroll taxes," said Jim Awad, managing director at Zephyr
Management in New York. "This is a welcome event and it should
be embraced by the market."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.51 points or
0.1 percent, to 13,987.9, the S&P 500 gained 1.44 points
or 0.09 percent, to 1,522.82 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 4.68 points or 0.15 percent, to 3,203.34.
The S&P is on track to register its seventh straight week of
gains by the close of trading Friday, a feat not seen since a
run of consecutive weekly gains between December 2010 and
A surge in merger and acquisition activity, with more than
$158 billion in deals announced so far in 2013, has given
further support to the equity market as it points to healthy
valuations and bets on the economic outlook.
Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in
New York, said the flurry of mergers and acquisitions should be
seen as a tailwind for the market.
"You don't go into M&A if you don't have a positive
outlook," he said.
Herbalife shares surged 10 percent to $42.12 a day
after billionaire investor Carl Icahn said in a regulatory
filing that he now owns 13 percent of Herbalife and was ready to
put it in play.
Burger King Worldwide shares jumped 3.8 percent to
$17.21 after it beat estimates with a 94 percent rise in
fourth-quarter profit, thanks to new menu additions.