US STOCKS-Wall St rises on factory data; Tesla and Facebook jump
* Markit manufacturing data way ahead of expectations
* Tesla shares soar after results; Wal-Mart falls
* Facebook stock turns sharply on WhatsApp buy, hits record high
* Dow up 0.6 pct; S&P 500 up 0.6 pct; Nasdaq up 0.7 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday after a reading on manufacturing activity hit its highest in nearly four years, while news about Facebook and Tesla drove their shares to record highs.
The major indexes swung between slight gains and losses in early trading, but were clearly in the black after noon and didn't look back. The S&P 500 ended less than 0.5 percent below 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 claims 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...