Tech gains help propel Wall Street to record highs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks jumped on Tuesday, pushing all three major indexes to record closing highs, led by gains in this year’s top-performing technology sector.

Healthcare stocks also rose after bullish results from medical device maker Medtronic MDT.N, whose shares rose 4.8 percent after the company reported better-than-expected results and backed its full-year forecast.

The S&P technology index .SPLRCT gained 1.2 percent, helped by a nearly 1.9 percent rise in Apple AAPL.O. The index has risen 38.6 percent this year, by far more than any other sector. The S&P 500 is up 16.1 percent for the year so far.

“We’re at a seasonal time of the year where investors are looking to add holdings rather than sell, so we have that upward bias,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

“There’s money that’s been on the sidelines most of the year, and stocks have the best risk-adjusted profile right now. Stocks have had little volatility and the trend is upward,” he said, adding: “Tech is something people feel comfortable with right now and so you see money going into it.”

The CBOE Volatility index .VIX closed down 0.9 point at 9.73, its lowest close in more than two weeks.

The S&P 500 hit a record closing high for the first time in about two weeks. Indexes posted losses last week as investors worried whether the tax plan in Washington will see progress.

With the third-quarter earnings season winding down and no major economic data in sight, trading activity slowed ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 160.5 points, or 0.69 percent, to 23,590.83, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 16.89 points, or 0.65 percent, to 2,599.03 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 71.76 points, or 1.06 percent, to 6,862.48.

The small-cap Russell 2000 index .RUT rose 1 percent and also hit a record closing high.

Goldman Sachs raised its earnings estimate for S&P 500 companies in 2018 and 2019 based on expectations of U.S. corporate tax reform, above-trend global and U.S. economic growth and slowly rising interest rates from a low base.

Shares of Urban Outfitters URBN.O gained 3.7 percent while Hormel Foods HRL.N was up 3.4 percent. Both reported quarterly results.

Signet Jewelers SIG.N tanked 30.4 percent after reporting a surprise quarterly loss, pulling down Tiffany TIF.N 0.8 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.10-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.92-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 6.8 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and James Dalgleish