Wall Street rises, aided by U.S. growth data; Nasdaq ends at record

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Wall Street gained on Thursday, led by financial shares, after data showed U.S. economic growth was stronger than previously reported last quarter, helped by robust consumer spending, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq set a record closing high. The energy sector . SPNY rose for a third straight day, supported by stronger oil prices CLc1 and a 8.8-percent gain for ConocoPhillips (COP. N), the biggest percentage riser on the S&P 500 after it agreed to sell oil and gas assets. The S&P 500 gained for a third straight day, rebounding after its worst week of the year last week. U.S. economic growth slowed less than previously reported in the fourth quarter as robust consumer spending provided a boost, the Commerce Department said. Gross domestic product increased at a 2.1 percent annualized rate instead of the previously-reported 1.9 percent pace. A record-setting rally for stocks in the wake of President Donald Trump's November election stalled somewhat this month, with some investors pointing to risks to Trump's agenda, including tax reform, after his fellow Republicans failed to pass a healthcare bill. The GDP report is "basically an affirmation that, hey, at the end of the day, Washington will do and say whatever they are going to do, but the economy is marching forward," said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Investment Management in New York.

"It’s not just the U.S. economy, but we do see definitely improvement throughout the world," Cavanaugh said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average . DJI rose 69.17 points, or 0.33 percent, to 20,728.49, the S&P 500 . SPX gained 6.93 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,368.06 and the Nasdaq Composite . IXIC added 16.80 points, or 0.28 percent, to 5,914.34. The Nasdaq closed at a record high after rising for a fifth straight session. Financial shares . SPSY surged 1.2 percent, with Bank of America (BAC. N) and Citigroup (C. N) propping up the S&P 500.

The defensive utilities sector . SPLRCU was the worst-performing group, falling 0.7 percent. Investors are also turning their attention to the impending first-quarter earnings season to justify lofty valuations for stocks. The S&P 500 is trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months against its long-term average of 15. First-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 10.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

FCC to vote to reform $45 billion business data market WASHINGTON The Republican head of the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday proposed easing regulatory requirements in the $45 billion business data services market, a win for companies like AT&T Inc, CenturyLink Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and others.

Uber settles with Pennsylvania regulator following record fine Uber Technologies Inc has reached a settlement with Pennsylvania's taxi regulator to end the ride-sharing company's appeal of a record $11.4 million fine for operating illegally.

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