S&P 500 index is on track for a third weekly gain

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Photo - 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)
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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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. Groupon plunged after predicting a loss.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose four points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,845 as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,172. The Nasdaq composite rose 13 points, or 0.3 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 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.

GIVING IT A PASS: Stocks have advanced even as the economic data has remained mixed. Stocks climbed Friday even though sales of existing U.S. homes plummeted in January to the worst pace in 18 months. Cold weather, limited supplies of homes on the market and higher buying costs held back purchases. Despite the mixed data, investors are still confident that the economy will continue to recover this year, said Andres Garcia-Amaya, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.

"The market believes, fundamentally, the story hasn't changed," said with Andres Garcia-Amaya, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.

GAINING ALTITUDE: Priceline.com climbed $41.64, or 3.2 percent, to $1,324.60 after the online travel company reported earnings that exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts, as bookings for hotels, rental cars and airline tickets accelerated.

BAD DEAL: Groupon slumped $1.85, or 18 percent, to $8.42 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 pre-tax earnings to be only slightly higher than last year.

STOCK MARKDOWN: Nordstrom fell 84 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $58.62 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 was unchanged from Thursday at 2.75 percent. The price of oil fell $1, or 1 percent, to $101.74 a barrel. Gold rose $3.90, or 0.3 percent, to $1,320.60 an ounce.

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