October 23, 2015 / 8:42 PM / 4 years ago

US STOCKS-Techs lead Wall St higher; S&P 500 erases 2015 loss

* S&P 500 back in positive territory for the year

* Alphabet, Microsoft spark rally in tech stocks

* Whirlpool forecast disappoints

* Indexes up: Dow 0.9 pct, S&P 1.1 pct, Nasdaq 2.3 pct (Updates to close)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

Oct 23 (Reuters) - A tech share rally drove U.S. stocks up sharply for a second day on Friday as earnings from companies including Microsoft beat analysts’ expectations, while healthcare shares rebounded from recent losses.

The gains left the S&P 500 in positive territory for the year and above its 200-day moving average for the first time since Aug. 19.

An unexpected rate cut in China added to the positive tone for U.S. stocks, which also registered gains for the week.

Microsoft shares rose 10.1 percent to $52.87, their highest in 15 years, after adjusted revenue beat expectations for the ninth quarter in a row.

Microsoft gave the biggest boost to the three indexes, accounting for nearly a fifth of the Dow’s gain and leading a strong rally in technology stocks. The S&P technology sector jumped 3.0 percent, leading gains among major sectors.

Alphabet, Google’s new holding company, and Amazon soared to record intraday highs after results beat expectations. Alphabet ended up 5.6 percent at $719.33, while Amazon rose 6.2 percent to $599.03.

Facebook Inc. and Twitter also jumped, with Facebook rising above $100 for the first time.

“It’s being driven by the good earnings” from a number of companies, said Giri Cherukuri, head trader at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois. That may change the view on earnings “as people sit back and evaluate.”

“Companies with big international exposure have a big drag due to forex, but looking past that, companies are doing well.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 157.54 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,646.7, the S&P 500 gained 22.64 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,075.15 and the Nasdaq Composite added 111.81 points, or 2.27 percent, to 5,031.86.

For the week, the Dow rose 2.5 percent, the S&P 500 gained 2.1 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 3 percent.

The S&P 500 is now up 0.8 percent for the year so far and up 7.1 percent for October.

Analyst sentiment on overall third-quarter earnings has improved following the string of strong results from blue chips.

S&P 500 earnings for the period are now expected to have declined a more modest 2.8 percent, compared with a decline of 4.9 percent forecast at the start of the reporting season, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Among other gainers, Procter & Gamble rose 2.9 percent to $77.03 after its profit beat estimates.

Not all of the day’s earnings news was upbeat, though.

Shares of Whirlpool Corp dropped 8.7 percent to $145.90 after executives said currency would subtract $2.5 billion from the appliance maker’s annual revenue. Whirlpool lowered its 2015 expectations even as it posted higher-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

Overseas, China’s central bank cut interest rates for the sixth time since November in another attempt to jumpstart a slowing economy.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 1,806 to 1,252, for a 1.44-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,872 issues rose and 956 fell, for a 1.96-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 54 new 52-week highs and 14 lows; the Nasdaq recorded 133 new highs and 65 lows.

About 7.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.3 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Editing by Don Sebastian and Nick Zieminski)

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