* Consumer sentiment data better-than-expected
* GE rises after Q3 results
* Grainger, Honeywell fall after results
* Sept industrial production in line with view
* Youku Tudou rises after buyout offer from Alibaba
* Indexes up: Dow 0.21 pct, S&P 0.19 pct, Nasdaq 0.14 pct (Changes comment, adds data, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Oct 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks drifted higher after better-than-expected consumer sentiment data and as investors assessed mixed earnings from industrial heavyweights GE and Honeywell.
GE’s shares rose as much as 3.4 percent to $28.99 - their highest since the financial crisis - after reporting better-than-expected earnings.
But Honeywell fell 2.5 percent to $96.05 even though it also beat profit estimates.
Industrial tool maker Grainger slumped 6.6 percent to $207.13. Quanta Services, an industrial services provider, sank 26 percent to $19.29 after disappointing results.
“Today’s earnings are mixed. They don’t paint a strong one-directional picture of improvement or deterioration,” said Doug Burtnick, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management.
S&P 500 companies are expected to report a 3.9 percent fall in third-quarter profit, the biggest decline in six years, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The University of Michigan’s preliminary index on consumer sentiment for October came in at 92.1, ahead of the 89 forecast.
The data helped the S&P Consumer staples sector lead the advancers with a nearly 1 percent increase. Within the index, Philip Morris and Pepsi provided the biggest boost.
At 11:32 a.m. ET (1532 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 35.44 points, or 0.21 percent, at 17,177.19, the S&P 500 was up 3.91 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,027.77 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 6.61 points, or 0.14 percent, at 4,876.71.
In other U.S. data, industrial production in September shrank for the second month in a row, but was in line with expectations.
“We’re seeing enough signs that the economy is getting on an at least a stable enough ground where the Fed can feel comfortable embarking upon a rate hiking program that will likely be very long and gradual,” said Kevin Mahn, Chief Investment Officer of Hennion & Walsh Asset Management.
The Fed, which kept rates at near-zero levels at its September meeting, is waiting for signs of stabilizing inflation and sustained economic recovery before it pulls the trigger.
Youku Tudou jumped 23 percent to $25.10 after Alibaba offered to buy the video-streaming company for $26.60 per American Depository Share. Alibaba was up 1.1 percent at $72.56.
Wynn Resorts fell 2.6 percent to $71.86, a day after the casino operator reported third-quarter results below expectations.
Zafgen slumped nearly 35.3 percent to $13.56 after the company said its obesity drug trial been put on partial clinical hold by the U.S. FDA.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,463 to 1,436. On the Nasdaq, 1,377 issues fell and 1,199 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 18 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 43 new highs and 13 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)