S&P nears record on technology boost

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NEW YORK (Aug 7): The benchmark S&P 500 was within striking distance of a record high on Tuesday, powered by gains in technology stocks, and a strong second-quarter earnings season fueled optimism about the strength in the U.S. economy.

The index was up 0.37% at 2860.91, about half a percent away from the record it hit on Jan 26. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 161 points.

Shares of high-flying stocks, including those of Google's parent Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook were trading up between 0.3% to 0.7%. They helped drive a 0.51% gain in the S&P tech sector .

Technology and energy stocks have been at the centre of a sharp recovery in the S&P, since a market rout in February.

The energy index rose 0.94%, the most among the S&P sectors, as oil prices gained on expectations of tighter global supplies, following United States sanctions on Iran.

A strong earnings season has also helped U.S. stocks cushion some of the impact from the ongoing trade issues.

Of the 413 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 79.2% have topped estimates. If the beat rate holds, it will be the highest on record, dating back to the first quarter of 1994, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We have a good broad picture of what the earnings season looks like already, and for the most part it has been very positive," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

"Strong earnings is part of what has kept the market buoyant and one of the reasons why we're in an uptrend right now."

At 9:55 a.m. EDT, the Nasdaq Composite was up 25.48 points or 0.32% at 7,885.16.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. The defensive consumer staples, utilities and real estate sectors fell.

Broadridge Financial rose 5.7% and Mosaic 5.4%, and were the biggest gainers on the S&P after reporting quarterly results.

Walt Disney rose 0.7%, ahead of its results later in the day.

Marriott International fell 3.3%, after the world's largest hotel chain signaled weakness in revenue per available room (revPAR) in North America for the third quarter.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.09-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.96-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 24 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and 34 new lows.