January 3, 2018 / 6:16 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-S&P tops 2,700 for first time on tech gains, strong data

* Fed minutes of Dec. policy meeting to be released at 2 p.m. ET

* Oracle, IBM rise after rating upgrades

* MoneyGram tumbles after deal with Ant Financial collapses

* Indexes up: Dow 0.24 pct, S&P 0.51 pct, Nasdaq 0.72 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 3 (Reuters) - The benchmark S&P 500 index surged past the 2,700-mark for the first time on Wednesday and other major indexes hit record intraday highs as technology stocks climbed amid indications of robust economic growth in the U.S. and overseas.

The technology sector was boosted by a rise in shares of Oracle, IBM and chipmakers. The index - the best-performing S&P 500 sector in 2017 with a 37-percent jump - was up 1.08 percent.

“Tech sector got beaten up right toward the end of the year and is seeing a rebound. It stands to benefit the least from the tax plan, but large caps that have the largest overseas holdings will benefit from ability to repatriate money,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

A report showed U.S. factory activity increased more than expected in December, in a further sign of strong economic momentum at the end of 2017. Meanwhile, manufacturing surveys pointed to a strong start for the European economy.

The manufacturing data came ahead of the scheduled release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes of its December policy meeting.

Investors are likely to scan the release for hints on rate tightening action in the coming months and the impact of the U.S. tax overhaul on the economy and inflation.

The odds of an interest rate hike in March jumped to 61.9 percent from 56.3 percent after the data, according to CME Group’s Fedwatch tool.

At 12:40 a.m. ET (1740 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 58.72 points, or 0.24 percent, at 24,882.73 and the S&P 500 was up 13.77 points, or 0.51 percent, at 2,709.58. The Nasdaq Composite was up 50.44 points, or 0.72 percent, at 7,057.33.

The indexes were also supported by gains in energy and healthcare.

Oil prices rose nearly 2 percent to their highest in 2-1/2 years, with buying spurred by a sixth day of unrest in Iran and strong economic data from the United States and Germany.

Intel fell 4.4 percent following a report that its processor chips had a fundamental design flaw.

Rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices climbed 8.5 percent. Nvidia gained 6.2 percent and Micron rose 3 percent.

MoneyGram International fell about 10 percent after Alibaba-owned Ant Financial’s plan to acquire the U.S. money transfer company in a $1.2 billion deal collapsed due to national security concerns.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,547 to 1,309. On the Nasdaq, 1,586 issues rose and 1,305 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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