* Statement could spell out the Fed's stimulus roadmap for
* Facebook trades above IPO price of $38 for first time
* Air Products shares up after Ackman confirms stake
* Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P adds 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.5 pct,
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday
as data showed stronger-than-anticipated jobs growth in the
private sector in July and an unexpectedly accelerating economy
in the April-June period.
Traders, however, were focused on a much-anticipated
statement from the Federal Reserve, expected at 2 p.m. (1800
GMT) that could spell out the U.S. central bank's stimulus
roadmap for the coming months.
The Fed likely will decide at the end of its policy meeting
to continue buying bonds at an $85 billion monthly pace, but its
statement will be combed for indications on when and by how much
it could scale back its purchases as the economic recovery takes
The Fed's stimulus program is seen by many as one of the
main reasons for the stock market to have risen more than 18
percent so far this year.
U.S. gross domestic product unexpectedly accelerated in the
second quarter at a 1.7 percent annual rate, and private
employers added 200,000 jobs in July, topping economists'
expectations and laying a firmer foundation for the year that
could bring the Fed closer to cutting back its stimulus.
"The recovery in the economy is starting to take root," said
Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in
"This will be an interesting development, given the fact
that we'll have a Fed announcement today, and it will play into
how Wall Street perceives the Fed's tapering plans."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 51.3 points or
0.33 percent, to 15,571.89, the S&P 500 gained 5.79
points or 0.34 percent, to 1,691.75 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 18.35 points or 0.51 percent, to 3,634.81.
The S&P 500 is on track to post its biggest monthly
percentage gain since October 2011.
Air Products & Chemicals shares gained 3.2 percent
to $108.95 after activist investor William Ackman said his
Pershing Square Capital Management has acquired a 9.8 percent
stake the industrial gas producer.
Facebook Inc's stock traded above its initial public
offering price of $38 for the first time since its market debut,
a milestone in the social networking company's effort to wipe
away Wall Street's skepticism of its business. The stock rose as
much as $38.31 and was recently up 1 percent at $37.99.
Symantec shares rose 6.8 percent to $22 a day after
the maker of Norton anti-virus software posted
better-than-expected quarterly results as customers used more of
its security products in the wake of a series of hacking
With quarterly results in from 60 percent of the S&P 500
companies, 67.4 percent have exceeded earnings expectations - in
line with the average beat over the last four quarters. About 55
percent of companies have topped revenue expectations, more than
the 48 percent of revenue beats in the past four earnings
seasons but below the historical average, Thomson Reuters data