Wall Street higher as technology stocks gain ground


By Rama Venkat Raman and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher in early afternoon trading on Thursday as popular technology stocks gained a firm footing after a bout of selloff and industrial stocks rose.

Shares of Facebook (FB.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) gained between 1.7 percent and 0.5 percent and were among the biggest boosts to the S&P and the Nasdaq.

General Electric (GE.N) rose about 0.9 percent after the industrial conglomerate said it was cutting 12,000 jobs at its global power business.

Lululemon Athletica (LULU.O) gained 7.15 percent after the Canadian yoga and leisure apparel maker reported a higher-than-expected profit and gave an upbeat holiday season forecast.

"Technology once again is leading the way here," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

Strong earnings and solid economic growth have pushed stocks to record levels this year and hopes of corporate tax cuts boosting earnings for companies have added to the momentum.

The Senate Republicans on Wednesday agreed to talks with the House of Representatives on the tax bill amid early signs that lawmakers could agree on a final bill ahead of a self-imposed Dec. 22 deadline.

However, a gridlock between President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress over the passage of spending legislation before Friday has raised fears of partial shutdown of the federal government.

At 12:27 p.m. ET (1727 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was up 97.84 points, or 0.41 percent, at 24,238.75 and the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 8.98 points, or 0.34 percent, at 2,638.25.

The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was up 41.89 points, or 0.62 percent, at 6,818.27.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with industrial (.SPLRCI) and technology sectors (.SPLRCT) leading the gainers.

Consumer staples index (.SPLRCS) fell the most, about 0.77 percent on more than 1 percent declines in index heavyweights Procter & Gamble (PG.N) and Coca-Cola (KO.N).

LendingClub (LC.N) shares plunged to a record low at $3.29, falling as much as 22.6 percent, after the online lender lowered its quarterly revenue forecast.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting a rapid tightening of the labor market.

The report comes ahead of a more comprehensive government payrolls data on Friday that would be used by investors to gauge the strength in the labor market at a time when the Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise interest rates next week.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,748 to 1,027. On the Nasdaq, 1,977 issues rose and 857 fell.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)


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