Tech gains push Wall St higher, offsets Turkey currency worries

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NEW YORK (Aug 13): U.S. stock indexes inched higher on Monday as shares of technology companies gained, offsetting a plunge in the Turkish lira that weighed on shares of big U.S. lenders.

The technology sector rose 0.45% and was the top gainer among the major S&P sectors.

Share of high-flying companies Apple, and Google-parent Alphabet were up between 0.7% and 1.5%.

The financials slipped 0.12% as U.S. bank stocks, like its European counterparts, bore the brunt of investor worries over exposure to Turkey's crisis.

The lira has tumbled more than 40% against the dollar this year, on worries over President Tayyip Erdogan's increasing control over the economy and deteriorating relations with the United States.

All the three big U.S. banks — Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan — were down about 0.3% and weighed on the S&P index.

"The global financial system is so interconnected that we tend to think of them as a group and financials come under pressure," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in New York.

"If the Turkish lira gets worse and if this turns out to be a larger issue than it is currently, banks are in the front line to getting hurt."

At 9:50 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 50.96 points or 0.20% at 25,364.10; the S&P 500 was up 5.29 points or 0.19% at 2,838.57; and the Nasdaq Composite was up 21.36 points or 0.27% at 7,860.47.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading higher.

Netflix's shares fell 0.9% and was the only one of the FAANG stocks trading lower, after the video streaming service provider said its Chief Financial Officer David Wells plans to step down.

Nielsen Holdings jumped 13.5%, the most on the S&P 500, after activist investor Elliott Management disclosed a stake and said would push for a sale of the TV-ratings company.

Mylan rose 4.3% and was among the top gainers on the S&P, after RBC upgraded the stock to "outperform".

Dish Network's shares fell 1.9%, after MoffettNathanson downgraded the satellite TV services provider's shares to "sell".

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.09-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.07-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded seven new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 26 new highs and 46 new lows.