* GE, Microsoft profits top estimates
* McDonald's paces Dow after strong U.S. sales
* Indexes up: Dow 0.8 pct, S&P 0.7 pct, Nasdaq 0.8 pct
By David Gaffen
NEW YORK, April 20 U.S. stocks rose on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on pace for its biggest weekly gain in the past five weeks, led by solid earnings from McDonald's, General Electric and Microsoft.
General Electric Co's results drove buying in industrial shares, which led the market on Friday. The company expects double-digit earnings for the year, Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said, helping shares rise 1.8 percent.
As earnings season moves into high gear, the first wave of results has been substantially stronger than expected, with 81 percent of companies exceeding expectations thus far, according to Thomson Reuters data.
That has helped stocks regain their footing after a recent pullback on less-than-inspiring U.S. economic figures and renewed worry about Europe's debt crisis.
"Yesterday there was some concern that McDonald's might miss, but they matched and had strong same-store sales growth. GE beat their number. Overall, it continues to be another good earnings season," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
"They are good signs the U.S. economy remains on track. It's not super growth, but it's growth."
McDonald's Corp climbed 2.3 percent to $97.47 and was the top boost to the Dow after the world's No. 1 fast-food chain reported higher quarterly profit, paced by strong U.S. sales.
Microsoft Corp advanced 5.5 percent, its biggest percentage gain in three months, to $32.70 after profit beat Wall Street's expectations late Thursday, with personal computer sales holding up better than expected.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 107.24 points, or 0.83 percent, to 13,071.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 9.19 points, or 0.67 percent, to 1,386.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 22.69 points, or 0.75 percent, to 3,030.25.
Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc reported higher quarterly profit and raised its 2012 earnings forecast. The stock was up 3.3 pct to $59.89.
The S&P industrial sector index, up 1.1 percent, was the top performing S&P sector.
Oilfield services company Schlumberger NV's profit rose on improved deepwater activity and global exploration in several regions. Shares climbed 4.5 percent to $72.90. The PHLX oil service sector index gained nearly 1 percent.
SanDisk Corp slumped 13.3 percent to $35.09 after the chipmaker said prices would suffer from a glut in the supply of memory chips, sounding its second revenue warning in as many quarters. The PHLX semiconductor index dropped 1.6 percent.
South Africa anti-graft chief open to talks on central bank -report
JOHANNESBURG, June 24 The head of South Africa's anti-graft watchdog is open to talks on her recommendation to change the central bank's mandate, a proposal that has drawn sharp criticism from parliament, the ruling party and investors, a local news agency said on Saturday.