December 21, 2017 / 8:35 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street climbs, fueled by energy and financials

* Third-quarter GDP growth of 3.2 pct vs. est 3.3 pct

* Accenture hits record high; qtly profit tops forecasts

* Indexes up: Dow 0.4 pct, S&P 0.4 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct (Updates to late afternoon; changes byline, adds dateline NEW YORK)

By April Joyner

NEW YORK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The three main U.S. stock indexes rose on Thursday as bank and energy stocks climbed and on a continuing boost from the U.S. tax overhaul passed by Congress earlier this week.

Energy and financial stocks led gains among the 11 major S&P sectors. Energy, in particular, has underperformed this year, with a 4.1 percent loss year-to-date, and some analysts suggested that Thursday’s gains reflected an end-of-year rotation to value stocks.

“They’re still playing a bit of catch-up,” said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors in Florham Park, New Jersey. “As energy has moved forward, it hasn’t correlated to the price of oil.”

Chevron shares jumped 3.5 percent. The shares earlier touched a record high of $125.09, after broker Cowen & Co raised its price target on the stock by nearly a third to $160.

The U.S. Congress approved a $1.5-trillion tax bill this week that will slash corporate income tax rates to 21 percent from 35 percent. Investors are hopeful that the lower rates will companies will spend more on dividends and capital new projects, boosting the overall economy.

“There’s still the after-effects of tax reform being passed,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee. “I get the sense that the market is very optimistic about next year.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83.99 points, or 0.34 percent, to 24,810.64, the S&P 500 gained 9.49 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,688.74 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.47 points, or 0.19 percent, to 6,974.43.

Adding to the upbeat sentiment, third-quarter data showed that the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in more than two years, powered by robust business spending.

A separate report showed a jump in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, but the underlying trend in jobless claims remained consistent with a tightening labor market.

The utilities sector, among sectors likely to benefit the least from tax cuts, fell 1.0 percent, in a fourth consecutive day of declines.

Shares of Accenture PLC rose 2.0 percent after the consulting and outsourcing services provider reported a quarterly profit that topped Wall Street forecasts, driven by digital and cloud services business. The shares earlier hit a record high of $158.44.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.89-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.84-to-1 ratio favored advancers. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Leslie Adler)

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