August 6, 2018 / 6:51 PM / 4 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St climbs with help from Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook

* Berkshire rises after strong results

* PepsiCo up after naming Ramon Laguarta as CEO

* S&P 500 inching back toward record high of 2872.87

* Indexes up: Dow 0.17 pct, S&P 0.36 pct, Nasdaq 0.53 pct (Updates to late afternoon, changes byline, adds New York dateline)

By James Thorne and Sinéad Carew

Aug 6 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 rose on Monday as results from Berkshire Hathaway boosted optimism about a strong earnings season, and Facebook lifted the tech-heavy Nasdaq index after a report it was planning new services.

The S&P was about 20 points below a record hit on Jan. 26 after its first five-week run of gains this year as robust corporate earnings have helped investors shrug off worries about U.S. trade tensions with countries including China.

“We still have a good amount of positive sentiment coming from a strong earnings season. ... That’s certainly providing a significant amount of positive force to stocks today,” said Kristina Hooper, global market strategist at Invesco in New York.

But the strategist said there were some signs China is “hunkering down and getting ready for a significant trade war” and that the impact of such a war “could be more far-reaching than previously assumed.”

Chinese state media on Monday lambasted U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policies in an unusually personal attack, and sought to reassure investors anxious about China’s economy as growth concerns battered its financial markets.

At 2:38 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 42.85 points, or 0.17 percent, to 25,505.43, the S&P 500 gained 10.2 points, or 0.36 percent, to 2,850.55 and the Nasdaq Composite added 41.68 points, or 0.53 percent, to 7,853.70.

Ten of the S&P’s 11 major industry sectors were advancing on Monday with the financial sector, up 0.5 percent, and the technology index, up 0.4 percent providing the biggest boosts to the benchmark.

The finance sector’s biggest contributor was Berkshire Hathaway Inc, which was up 2.6 percent after the Warren Buffett-led conglomerate reported a 67 percent surge in quarterly operating profit.

Of the 413 S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far, 79.2 percent have topped earnings estimates, according to Thomson Reuters data. That is well above the average of 72 percent for the past four quarters.

Technology’s biggest boost came from Facebook, which gained 3.4 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported it had asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, as part of an effort to offer new services to users.

PepsiCo rose 1.2 percent after the company said Ramon Laguarta, a company veteran with experience in international markets, would succeed Indra Nooyi as chief executive officer.

Tyson Foods gained 2.6 percent after the No. 1 U.S. meat processor beat analysts’ quarterly profit estimates on strong demand for beef.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.57-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 70 new highs and 67 new lows. (Additional reporting by James Thorne in New York, Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Shounak Dasgupta and Jonathan Oatis)

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