* Apple rallies after results, boosting tech names
* Boeing falls despite profit rise, weighing on Dow
* Biotechs rally for fourth straight session
* Dow down 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
(Updates to afternoon trading)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, July 23 U.S. stocks were largely
higher on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 hitting another record
high after bullish results from tech giants Apple and Microsoft,
though technical resistance and conflicts in Ukraine and the
Gaza Strip kept gains in check.
Biotech stocks were among the biggest gainers of the day,
boosted by some strong results and drug trial data. The Nasdaq
Biotech index jumped 1.9 percent in its fourth straight
day of gains.
The S&P information technology index rose 0.3
percent, one of the strongest sectors of the day. Apple Inc
and Microsoft Corp rose following results
posted late Tuesday, with Apple up 3 percent to a 22-month high
as concerns faded about the iPhone maker's margins.
Dow component Microsoft was up 0.3 percent after it said it
aimed to get its loss-making Nokia phone unit to break even
within two years.
"Earnings season has been going very well, beating on both
the top and bottom line, which suggests companies will continue
to execute well," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist
at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta, Georgia.
About 68.5 percent of S&P 500 components have reported
earnings above expectations, topping the long-term average of 63
percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. On the revenue side,
63.1 percent have beaten, above the historical average of 61
Overseas issues continued to limit market gains. Two
Ukrainian fighter jets were downed near the area where a
passenger jet was shot down last week, a spokesman for Ukraine's
military operations said Wednesday.
Violence also continued in the Gaza Strip, though U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry said indirect truce talks between
Israel and Hamas had made some progress.
"There's a battle going on in the market between earnings
and geopolitical issues, and right now it looks like earnings
have a slight edge," said Gayle, who helps oversee $50 billion
in assets. "These are big areas of concern, but they've yet to
translate to anything tangible from an economic standpoint."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.18 points or
0.1 percent, to 17,096.36, the S&P 500 gained 4.58 points
or 0.23 percent, to 1,988.11 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 18.40 points or 0.41 percent, to 4,474.42.
The S&P touched a record above 1,989 but the 1,985-1,990
area was developing into technical resistance, analysts said.
The Dow was kept under pressure by Boeing Co, which
fell 2.2 percent to $126.86. It reported a 52 percent jump in
quarterly profit but investors were spooked by rising costs in
its military tanker program.
PepsiCo rose 2.9 percent to $91.76 after it reported
a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year
adjusted earnings forecast.
In the biotech space, Biogen Idec reported sharply
higher-than-expected quarterly revenue on surging sales of its
new treatment for multiple sclerosis and raised its full-year
profit forecast. Shares were up 10.9 percent at $336.93.
Intuitive Surgical rose 14.7 percent to $449.98,
the S&P's biggest percentage gainer, a day after second-quarter
revenue beat expectations.
Puma Biotechnology nearly quadrupled to $233.28 on
heavy volume a day after it said its experimental breast cancer
drug met its main goal in a late-stage trial.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)