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Stocks up on GDP, earnings


NEW YORK — Stocks rose on Thursday, boosted by a strong reading on quarterly economic growth and by another round of upbeat earnings reports including Visa, which accounted for nearly 140 points in the Dow industrials.

Despite the bullish data and the Federal Reserve’s Wednesday statement indicating the economy is strengthening, gains on the S&P 500 were led by healthcare and utilities, traditionally defensive sectors.

Analysts cited mutual funds purchases of the best performing stocks for the run in those sectors, as funds close their books for the year at the end of this month. Healthcare and utilities are both up nearly 20 percent year-to-date.

Healthcare also got a boost by Bristol-Myers Squibb, up 8.9 percent to $58.98 after results from an experimental clinical trial on a lung cancer drug were encouraging.

Gross domestic product grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, beating expectations. A separate report showed first-time applications for unemployment benefits rose marginally last week, but a measure of underlying trends hit its lowest level since May 2000 in a show of labor market strength.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 221.11 points, or 1.3 percent, to 17,195.42, the S&P 500 gained 12.35 points, or 0.62 percent, to 1,994.65 and the Nasdaq Composite added 16.91 points, or 0.37 percent, to 4,566.14.

Visa jumped 10.2 percent to $236.65, the biggest boost to both the Dow and S&P 500, a day after it reported adjusted earnings that topped expectations.