US STOCKS-Wall St gains, on track for strong week
* Nasdaq on track for its best week since February
* Monster Beverage rallies, Coca-Cola takes stake
* Applied Material up on results, Nordstrom falls
* Indexes up: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.4 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct (Updates to market open)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, putting major indexes on track for a second week of gains, as a growing consensus that there would be no immediate escalation in the tense situations in Ukraine or Iraq offset weak data on manufacturing and consumer sentiment.
The market continued to take its cue from news overseas. Ukrainian border guards crossed the frontier to inspect a huge Russian aid convoy, which some had speculated could be a cover for a military invasion. The inspection comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a softer tone in comments regarding Ukraine.
In Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki stepped down as prime minister, paving the way for a new coalition that world and regional powers hope will be able to quash a Sunni Islamist insurgency that threatens Baghdad.
"While no one is discounting the possibility that these issues could get worse next week, there hasn't been anything untoward yet with the inspections or in Iraq, and that's a positive," said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group in New York. Continuación...