* Yellen points to improving U.S. labor market
* Shooting death of Russian ambassador to Turkey briefly
* Dow remains less than 1 percent away from 20,000
* United Tech rises after Credit Suisse upgrade; boosts Dow
* Indexes up: Dow 0.26 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.47 pct
(Updates to late-afternoon trading)
By Noel Randewich
Dec 19 U.S. stocks rose on Monday with the
Nasdaq Composite in record territory as investors snapped up
technology heavyweights Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.com.
Major stock indexes trimmed gains after the Russian
ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in Ankara.
The S&P technology index rose 0.66 percent, with
Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.com lifting the Nasdaq Composite to
within a hair of last Tuesday's record high close.
U.S. stocks have been on a tear since the Nov. 8
presidential election, with the S&P rising nearly 6 percent on
bets that President-elect Donald Trump's expected deregulation
and infrastructure spending will boost the economy.
"The Trump rally is still with us. Every time something's
down for two days, people jump on it. People are looking for
buying opportunities," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive
officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Dow Jones industrial average is less than 1 percent away
from 20,000, a level it has never breached.
However, some investors warn that uncertainty around Trump's
policies and the likelihood of them being approved by Congress
pose major risks to current stock prices.
In a speech, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the
U.S. labor market has improved to its strongest in nearly a
decade, suggesting wage growth is picking up and underscoring
expectations the central bank will continue to raise interest
rates next year.
At 2:43 pm ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was
up 0.26 percent at 19,894.76 points and the S&P 500 had
gained 0.25 percent to 2,263.8.
The Nasdaq Composite added 0.47 percent to 5,462.79.
Microsoft rose 2.25 percent, Amazon.com
gained 1.11 percent and Apple climbed 0.77 percent. All
three provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.
United Technologies rose 1.8 percent, helping lift
the Dow, after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to "outperform"
and increased its price target.
Walt Disney rose 1.4 percent after its "Rogue One: A
Star Wars Story" movie scored the second-largest December
opening in history.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
1.81-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.52-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 135 new highs and 29 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru and Rodrigo
Campos in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)