May 7, 2018 / 6:53 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Apple and oil lead Wall Street higher

* U.S. crude rises to fresh 2014 highs

* Apple up on Buffett’s bullish view

* Defensive sectors lag on S&P 500

* Indexes up: Dow 0.69 pct, S&P 0.67 pct, Nasdaq 1.04 pct (Updates to afternoon)

By Noel Randewich

May 7 (Reuters) - Wall Street climbed on Monday, boosted by Apple’s sixth straight day of gains and by a surge in oil prices to their highest levels since 2014.

Apple added 1.25 percent, extending gains since it reported results last week and after Berkshire Hathaway on Friday disclosed it had boosted its stake in the iPhone maker. Warren Buffett told CNBC on Monday, “I’d love to own 100 percent of it.”

“Buffet took such an outsized position in Apple, which was reassuring to a lot of people,” said Jack Ablin, Chief Investment Officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago. “Psychologically, people went into last week a little skeptical, but I think we saw a thawing of that late last week and over the weekend.”

The S&P energy index surged 1.5 percent, the strongest gainer among the 11 major S&P sectors, as crude prices rose due to troubles for Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and a looming decision on whether the United States will re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Worries over inflation and interest rates, along with tariff and geopolitical tensions, have overshadowed a solid earnings season, which is on track to record its best quarter in seven years.

Nearly 80 percent of the 417 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have topped profit estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That is well above the long-term average of 64 percent and the average of 75 percent over the past four quarters.

Three quarters of companies have reported revenue above expectations, compared to 60 percent in a typical quarter. That suggests that companies are growing their businesses, and not solely benefiting from deep corporate tax cuts introduced this year.

At 2:42 pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.69 percent at 24,429.52, while the S&P 500 had gained 0.67 percent to 2,681.17.

The Nasdaq Composite added 1.04 percent to 7,284.93.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology index rising 1.13 percent.

AthenaHealth jumped 15 percent after hedge fund Elliott Management proposed an all-cash offer that would value the healthcare IT company at about $6.5 billion.

Utilities, consumer staples and telecoms were all down.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.40-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.32-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and six new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 117 new highs and 18 new lows. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru Editing by James Dalgleish)

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