January 25, 2019 / 3:08 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Earnings optimism pushes Wall Street higher

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* Starbucks, Western Digital rise after results

* Senate in search for remedies to end government shutdown

* Intel drops as China slowdown hits earnings, forecast

* Indexes up: Dow 0.76 pct, S&P 0.66 pct, Nasdaq 0.72 pct (Updates to open)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Jan 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, with technology and consumer discretionary sectors leading a rally, as upbeat earnings reports helped investors overlook trade and growth worries.

A strong rally at start of the year was stalled this week by concerns about global economic growth, U.S. government shutdown and U.S.-China trade talks.

But with fourth-quarter earnings largely exceeding Wall Street expectations, the benchmark S&P 500 is holding near six-week highs.

News that the U.S. Senate was looking for a way to end a partial U.S. government shutdown, entering its 35th day, also added to the mood.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities said in a client note that renewed talks to end government shutdown and earnings “that for the most part are beating expectations” were helping the markets.

The consumer discretionary sector rose 1.27 percent, boosted by gains in Starbucks Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

Starbucks Corp shares rose 4.17 percent as the popularity of its holiday-themed drinks in the United States helped quarterly sales top analysts’ expectations.

The S&P technology sector rose 0.54 percent, lifted by gains in shares of Western Digital Corp and Apple Inc.

Western Digital Corp, which missed estimates for quarterly results due to weak demand for its data storage devices, rose 7.60 percent after the company said its revenue would improve in the second half of the year. Shares of rival Seagate Technology climbed 7.59 percent.

Three-fourth of the 97 S&P 500 companies that have reported quarterly results have surpassed profit estimates, according to Refinitiv data. That is above the historical average of 64 percent.

Semiconductor stocks, which have taken a beating after Apple Inc’s sales warnings, led Wall Street’s rally on Thursday on better-than-feared results from chipmakers, including Xilinx Inc and Lam Research Corp.

However, Intel Corp’s dismal current-quarter forecast, which it blamed on a slowdown in China and sluggish demand for its data center and modem chips, sent its shares down 7.72 percent.

Intel also capped gains in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index which climbed 0.50 percent, after a near 6 percent surge on Thursday.

At 9:56 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 187.57 points, or 0.76 percent, at 24,740.81, the S&P 500 was up 17.50 points, or 0.66 percent, at 2,659.83 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 51.15 points, or 0.72 percent, at 7,124.61.

Investors are bracing for an event-packed week ahead, which includes the Federal Reserve’s first policy meeting this year, U.S. jobs data, another round of trade talks and reports from tech giants, including Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc .

Shares of Apple rose 2.10 percent and Amazon climbed 1.35 percent.

D.R. Horton Inc, which missed quarterly profit estimates, rose 1.62 percent after the homebuilder said it expected demand to rise during spring season.

PHLX housing index climbed 1.65 percent.

Colgate-Palmolive Co dropped 0.84 percent after the toothpaste maker forecast a decline in 2019 earnings as it spent more on advertising, while battling higher commodity costs.

The healthcare sector dipped 0.09 percent, pulled down by AbbVie Inc which fell 6.96 percent after posting quarterly profit below estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5.82-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 3.28-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded seven new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and eight new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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