* 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 0.24 pct, S&P 0.31 pct, Nasdaq 0.62 pct (Adds market updates, )
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Friday, with the S&P 500 scaling a new intraday record as rising oil prices boosted energy stocks, but a decline in utilities limited gains.
Traders held off on making big bets on the last day before a long weekend to avoid extended exposure in case of any negative news, particularly from Europe, where Greece is involved in debt negotiations. U.S. markets are closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.
“In general, you don’t see people running up into a three-day weekend. It’s a long holding period where you don’t have the opportunity to get out of a position,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
Equities rallied this week after a ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and Russia and apparent progress toward a deal on Greek debt. For the week, the Dow is up 1.1 percent, the S&P 500 is up 1.9 percent and the Nasdaq is up 2.96 percent.
U.S.-listed shares of National Bank of Greece jumped 15 percent to $1.64.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 43.99 points, or 0.24 percent, to 18,016.37, the S&P 500 gained 6.37 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,094.85 and the Nasdaq Composite added 30.16 points, or 0.62 percent, to 4,887.77.
The S&P hit an intraday record of 2094.97, surpassing its prior record set on Dec. 29.
The S&P utilities sector was down 2 percent and was the worst performer, on track for a third straight day of declines. The energy sector was the best performer with a 1.7 percent rise as oil prices rose.
American Express weighed on the S&P index with a 2.9 percent decline. Several brokerages slashed 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 decliners on the NYSE by 1,924 to 1,116, for a 1.72-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,729 issues rose and 957 fell, a 1.81-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 was posting 75 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 111 new highs and 27 new lows. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)