January 3, 2018 / 7:42 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-S&P tops 2,700 on tech advance, holds gains after Fed minutes

* Indexes hold gains after release of Fed minutes

* Oracle, IBM rise after rating upgrades

* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.8 pct (Updates to after Fed minutes)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Jan 3 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 index rose above 2,700 for the first time on Wednesday and other major indexes hit record highs as technology stocks climbed amid indications of robust economic growth in the United States and overseas.

Stocks held gains following the release of minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting. Details of the meeting showed that policymakers were worried over the fate of currently low inflation and saw the recent tax changes as providing a boost to the economy.

“It emphasizes the message they’ve had out there, that they’ll be data dependent and that they want to try to normalize policy unless there’s an economic slowdown or inflation doesn’t act as expected,” said Sameer Samana, global equity and technical strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in St. Louis.

“It was at least interesting that they tipped their hats to the tax cuts.”

Earlier in the session, 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 technology sector was boosted by a rise in shares of Alphabet, IBM and chipmakers. The S&P 500 tech index - the best-performing S&P 500 sector in 2017 with a 37-percent jump - was up 1 percent.

U.S. chipmaker stocks surged for second straight session, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor index up 1.4 percent and heading for its strongest two-day performance since July.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 48.67 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,872.68, the S&P 500 gained 13.73 points, or 0.51 percent, to 2,709.54 and the Nasdaq Composite added 52.86 points, or 0.75 percent, to 7,059.75.

Oracle shares were up 2.5 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock.

Gains in energy and healthcare also boosted the market. The S&P energy index was up 1.5 percent while S&P healthcare was up 1 percent.

Intel fell 6.2 percent following a report that its processor chips had a fundamental design flaw.

Rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices climbed 9.5 percent. Nvidia gained 6.6 percent and Micron rose 2.8 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.31-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski

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