NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks rose Friday, sending the Standard & Poor's 500 index to a record, as Amazon.com and Microsoft sales beat estimates while a drop in consumer confidence added to speculation the Federal Reserve will delay scaling back monetary stimulus.
Amazon surged 9.4 percent as consumers flocked to the largest online retailer ahead of the holiday shopping season, helping to curtail losses. Microsoft jumped 6 percent as the company relied on corporate software demand to make up for weak consumer personal-computer purchases. Eastman Chemical slumped 5.2 percent after cutting its full-year forecast.
The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to 1,759.77. The Nasdaq 100 index climbed 0.6 percent to 3,383.83. The Dow Jones industrial average added 61.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,570.28. About 6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, in line with the three-month average.
The S&P 500 has jumped 4.7 percent this month as lawmakers agreed to raise the government's borrowing limit, avoiding a sovereign default. Equities rallied for a third week, with the benchmark index up 0.9 percent, as signs of slower economic recovery fueled bets the Fed will wait until March before scaling back bond purchases.
Exchange-traded funds that invest in U.S. equities took in more than $2.3 billion the last four days, bringing this month's flows to about $15.8 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. October is on track for the biggest intake since July.
Stocks briefly pared gains Friday as a person in the office of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he is considering placing a hold on the nomination of Janet Yellen to lead the Fed. Equities rallied earlier this month when President Barack Obama chose Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman. As a top deputy to Bernanke, Yellen supported the central bank's bond-buying programs that have helped propel the S&P 500 up 160 percent from a 12-year low in 2009.
Better-than-expected earnings and continued monetary stimulus have driven the S&P 500 up 23 percent this year. While the rally lifted equity valuations to a four-year high, with the index trading at 15.9 times estimated operating earnings, that's still below the multiples at the market's two previous peaks, when the ratio reached 16.5 in October 2007 and 25.7 in March 2000, data compiled by Bloomberg show.Data on Friday showed U.S. consumer confidence dropped in October to a 10-month low, showing the reopening of the federal government failed to reassure households.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final consumer sentiment index for October decreased to 73.2 from 77.5 the prior month. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a decline to 75 compared with a preliminary reading of 75.2.
Orders for U.S. durable goods rose in September by the most in three months as stronger demand for commercial and military aircraft outweighed a drop in business equipment.
Sixteen S&P 500 companies reported earnings Friday.
Of the 244 members of the gauge that have released results so far, 76 percent exceeded analysts' predictions for profit, while 54 percent beat sales estimates, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.