* Investors breathe easier on overseas issues
* German growth beats expectations
* Import prices drop in January; consumer confidence drops
* AmEx weighs on S&P 500
* Indexes up: Dow 0.17 pct, S&P 0.15 pct, Nasdaq 0.38 pct (Adds market updates, )
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced modestly on Friday, as the S&P 500 scaled a new intraday record, helped by investor optimism regarding Greece and Ukraine and upbeat German growth data.
Germany grew 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, more than double the expected 0.3 percent, pointing to a stronger 2015 for Europe’s biggest economy.
Equities have rallied this week after a ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and Russia, and apparent progress on a deal on Greek debt in the euro zone. For the week, the Dow is up 1.1 percent, the S&P 500 is up 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq is up 2.5 percent.
“Investors have been very cautious, overly so in equities, over the past month or so. That seems to be mostly attributable to overseas risks. Those risks are coming off the table this week,” said Scott Colyer, chief executive officer of Advisors Asset Management, an investment advisory firm in Monument, Colorado.
He also cited overall strength in U.S. earnings growth despite the impact of the strong dollar on some firms with overseas sales exposure.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 31.37 points, or 0.17 percent, to 18,003.75, the S&P 500 gained 3.07 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,091.55 and the Nasdaq Composite added 18.47 points, or 0.38 percent, to 4,876.08.
The S&P hit an intraday record of 2093.79, surpassing its prior record set on Dec. 29.
A Greek government spokesman said the country will make every effort to reach a deal at Monday’s meeting of euro zone finance ministers on how to transition to a new support program, but Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he was “very pessimistic” about a final deal being reached by Monday.
U.S.-listed shares of National Bank of Greece jumped 16 percent to $1.65.
American Express weighed most on the S&P index with a 2.8 percent decline as several brokerages slashed their price targets for the company after Costco said it would stop accepting its card in its U.S. stores.
Of the 391 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings, about 71.1 percent have topped profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, while 57.5 percent have beaten on revenue. The earnings growth rate for the quarter is 6.6 percent, down from the 11.2 percent expected on Oct. 1, but up from 4.2 percent expected on Jan. 1.
U.S. import prices tumbled 2.8 percent in January, the largest decline since December 2008 and the seventh straight month of declines, indicating inflation pressures could remain subdued, while consumer sentiment fell from an 11-year high.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,848 to 1,148, for a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,540 issues rose and 1,085 fell, a 1.42-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 was posting 73 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 106 new highs and 18 new lows. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)