April 17, 2018 / 4:10 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Tech stocks, Netflix power Wall Street's gains

* Netflix surges to record high after strong results

* UnitedHealth rises on upbeat results, forecast

* Goldman, J&J drop despite topping profit estimates

* Indexes up: Dow 1.05 pct, S&P 1.1 pct, Nasdaq 1.62 pct

* All three indexes top their 50-day moving averages (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

April 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday, helped by gains in technology companies and as strong earnings from Netflix and UnitedHealth boosted optimism over what is expected to be the strongest earnings season in seven years.

Netflix shares rose as much as 9.3 percent to $336.25, hitting an all-time high, after the video-streaming pioneer smashed analysts’ quarterly subscriber estimates, helped by a blitz of original content.

UnitedHealth jumped 3.4 percent after the largest U.S. health insurer raised its earnings forecast and posted results that beat Wall Street estimates.

“Being able to surprise on the upside in the phase of higher expectations would be a real sign of strength,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“Expectations have set a high bar for earnings and if companies are able to get over that, they will be rewarded. But an inability to get enough above that, you might see some negative reactions.”

Analysts expect profits of S&P 500 companies to rise 18.6 percent in the first quarter, the biggest increase in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters data.

At 11:33 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.05 percent at 24,830.11. The S&P 500 gained 1.1 percent to 2,706.4 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.62 percent to 7,272.30.

At their session highs, all three indexes were above their 50-day moving averages.

Data on Tuesday showed U.S. homebuilding increased more than expected in March amid a rebound in the construction of multi-family housing units. The PHLX housing index rose 1.3 percent.

All the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by the technology index’s 1.91 percent gain. The consumer discretionary index rose 1.7 percent, boosted by Netflix and Amazon, which gained 2.7 percent.

Amazon.com is in talks with Brazilian airline Azul on shipping goods in the country, Latin America’s largest economy, Reuters reported.

Goldman Sachs reversed course to drop 0.9 percent, mirroring other big U.S. banks that declined despite beating Wall Street’s profit expectations.

J&J fell 1.8 percent, erasing premarket gains after the company reported a better-than-expected profit and raised its full-year sales forecast.

The earnings season has helped divert attention from geopolitical and trade concerns, which have roiled the markets in recent months.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 3.23-to-1 ratio, and on the Nasdaq, for a 2.98-to-1 ratio. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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