* Consumer sentiment data better-than-expected
* GE rises after Q3 results
* Grainger, Honeywell fall after results
* Sept industrial production in line with view
* Twitter rises after Ballmer discloses 4 pct stake
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.1 pct (Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
Oct 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged up in late afternoon trading Friday, helped by upbeat consumer sentiment data and gains in General Electric, putting the S&P 500 on track for a third week of gains.
GE’s shares rose 3.9 percent to $29.10 - their highest since the financial crisis - after reporting better-than-expected earnings. The stock gave the S&P 500 and Dow their biggest boosts.
Shares of Mattel jumped 5.9 percent to $23.87 even after its sales missed estimates.
Consumer sentiment data also helped. The University of Michigan’s preliminary index on consumer sentiment rebounded strongly in early October, suggesting that the economic recovery remained on track.
“We’re in a window right now from about 2,000 to 2,050 (for the S&P), and that is fairly important for the market. If we can hold above 2,000 that would be good. We’re in a better part of the year from a seasonal perspective,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.
Forecasts for S&P 500 earnings are improving slightly as more companies report results. Earnings for S&P 500 companies are now expected to have fallen 3.9 percent in third-quarter profit, compared with an estimated decline of 4.9 percent several days ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.
At 3:01 p.m. (1901 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average rose 35.88 points, or 0.21 percent, to 17,177.63, the S&P 500 gained 5.06 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,028.92 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.25 points, or 0.07 percent, to 4,873.35.
Both the S&P and Dow were on track to close higher for the third straight week. They also were set for the best three-week run since February.
On the down side, Honeywell fell 2.5 percent to $96.10 even though it also beat profit estimates. Industrial tool maker Grainger slumped 5.9 percent to $208.62 after results.
Other data Friday showed a lackluster industrial production picture, with industrial production in September shrinking for the second month in a row, but in line with expectations.
The Fed, which kept rates at near-zero levels at its September meeting, is waiting for signs of stabilizing inflation and sustained economic recovery before it pulls the trigger.
Twitter rose 4.7 percent to $31.11 after Bloomberg reported that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer owns a 4 percent stake in the company.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,617 to 1,396, for a 1.16-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,510 issues fell and 1,243 advanced for a 1.21-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 52 new highs and 24 new lows. (Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Chizu Nomiyama)