July 18, 2018 / 4:09 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-S&P hovers at 5-month highs, Amazon hits $900 bln market cap

* Morgan Stanley jumps on earnings beat

* Amazon crosses $900 bln in market cap for first time

* UAL rises on beat-and-raise report, boosts airlines

* CSX gains on profit beat; other railroads rise

* Dow up 0.24 pct, S&P up 0.12 pct, Nasdaq down 0.27 pct (Changes comment; updates details, prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

July 18 (Reuters) - The benchmark S&P 500 remained at five-month highs on Wednesday as a rise in financial and industrial stocks due to strong earnings from marquee companies were offset by a drop in technology stocks.

On a day when highly valued FAANG stocks weighed on the market, Amazon.com became the second company after Apple to top $900 billion in market value, before retreating.

Morgan Stanley, which rounded off earnings from big banks, gained 3 percent after its profit topped analysts’ estimates on gains in fixed income and equities trading businesses.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Class B shares jumped 4.7 percent after the conglomerate eliminated a restriction on its ability to buy back its stocks.

Financials rose 1.41 percent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors, followed by the industrial group’s 1.07 percent increase.

Boosting industrials were earnings beat from United Airlines and railroad CSX Corp that helped ease concerns about the impact of the trade dispute on domestic hauls.

UAL also raised its 2018 profit forecast, sending its shares up 8.5 percent and boosting other airline stocks. CSX rose 5.5 percent and pushed shares of other railroad operators higher.

“Markets are going to stay a little range bound and try to grind a little bit higher in the midst of slower trading, that we often seen at this time of the year,” said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management, in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, in his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, repeated on Wednesday rising world protectionism would over time pose a risk to a U.S. and global expansion.

“Powell’s testimony is the big topic of the day, but I don’t think he’s going to say anything that will tip the scales or drive the markets meaningfully one way or the other,” said Heppenstall.

At 11:41 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 61.29 points, or 0.24 percent, at 25,181.18, the S&P 500 was up 3.41 points, or 0.12 percent, at 2,812.96 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 5.21 points, or 0.07 percent, at 7,849.91

Eight of the 11 main S&P 500 sectors were lower, led by the defensive utilities and consumer staples sectors.

The energy sector slipped 0.49 percent, but pared losses on a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories.

IBM dipped 0.3 percent, while American Express gained 1.3 percent ahead of their results after the bell.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.01-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.12-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and 34 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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