US STOCKS-Wall St rises on manufacturing data, S&P nears record
* Markit manufacturing data way ahead of expectations
* Tesla shares soar after results, Wal-Mart falls
* Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 bln, shares flat
* Indexes up: Dow 0.68 pct, S&P 0.57 pct, Nasdaq 0.46 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday after a reading on manufacturing activity hit a four-year high, more than offsetting other soft data and weak results from Wal-Mart.
Major indexes swung between slight gains and losses in early trading but were clearly in the black after noon. At its session high, the S&P 500 was less than 0.5 percent from its record close set last month at 1,848.38.
U.S. factory activity accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly four years in February, according to Markit's preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, a bullish economic indicator following a string of weaker-than-expected reports.
New filings for unemployment insurance fell in the latest week, boding well for the job market, but the Philadelphia Fed's gauge of manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in February. Continuación...