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Markets finish strong

Published October 26. 2013 4:00AM

Strong third-quarter results from technology companies drove investors into stocks on Friday, giving the market its third straight weekly gain. After reporting results that topped expectations, Microsoft rose 6 percent and Amazon.com rose 9 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index hit a record. The Nasdaq is the highest it's been in 13 years.

The gains were broad. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose, led by telecommunications with an increase of 1 percent.

Most companies that have reported third-quarter earnings are beating financial analysts' estimates. Even so, earnings for companies in the S&P 500 index are expected to grow just 4.5 percent over the same period a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ, a research firm. At the start of the year, earnings were expected to rise at more than twice that pace.

Major U.S. stock indexes have soared this year. The S&P 500 is up 23 percent, the Nasdaq composite 31 percent. In addition to higher earnings, investors have been encouraged by continued economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

- The Associated Press

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