Dow Tops 18,000 For First Time In History

Peter Tuchman wears a "DOW 18,000" hat on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. U.S.
Peter Tuchman wears a "DOW 18,000" hat on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. U.S. stocks pushed further into record territory on Tuesday as the Dow Jones industrial average crossed past the 18,000-point mark for the first time. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

* Q3 GDP revised up to 5 percent annual pace

* Durable goods orders fall short of expectations

* Consumer sentiment rises, new home sales fall

* Indexes: Dow up 0.46 pct, S&P up 0.18 pct, Nasdaq off 0.28 (Adds UMich, new home sales)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday, as the Dow climbed above the 18,000 mark for the first time in history and the S&P 500 set a new intraday record after an unexpectedly strong report on economic growth.

The gains pushed the Dow as high as 18,051.14, and the index is now up about 175 percent from a 12-year low hit on March 9, 2009.

The final estimate of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter was revised up to a 5 percent annual pace, its quickest in 11 years, on stronger consumer and business spending, easily topping expectations calling for a 4.3 percent pace.

"What was most interesting about that is if you dig in the details the primary surprise came from consumption," said Scott Keifer, global investment specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank in Orange County, California. "You are going to see the consumer spending number continue to inch up and get better and better as we continue on in this expansion."

In addition to the GDP report, data showed a solid rise in consumer spending while consumer sentiment hit its highest level in nearly eight years.

But not all the U.S. data was rosy, as durable goods orders unexpectedly fell in November and were well short of expectations while new home sales fell for a second straight month.

"I don't think the broader theme changes, but you are certainly going to have periods, aberrational reports where you have disappointments and durable goods was one of those," said Keifer.

Major Wall Street indexes have risen for four straight sessions, pushing the benchmark S&P index to its 50th record high of the year. The S&P has risen 5.4 percent over that period, its best 4-day run since July 2010. The rally comes on the heels of a selloff sparked by a slump in oil prices that saw the index drop nearly 5 percent from its prior record high set on Dec. 5.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 82.17 points, or 0.46 percent, to 18,041.61, the S&P 500 gained 3.75 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,082.29 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13.27 points, or 0.28 percent, to 4,768.16.

Trading volume is expected to be light this week due to the Christmas holiday, which could increase volatility. U.S. equity markets will open for an abbreviated session Wednesday and be closed on Thursday.

Walgreen Co shares advanced 1.2 percent to $75.16 after the drugstore chain operator reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Gilead Sciences weighed on the Nasdaq for a second straight session, as it continued to slide after the biggest percentage drop for the stock in nearly 14 years in the prior session.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,968 to 980, for a 2.01-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,366 issues rose and 1,198 fell for a 1.14-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 100 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recorded 141 new highs and 27 new lows. (Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jeffrey Benkoe, W Simon and Meredith Mazzilli)