Wall Street ends higher, boosted by tech, growth stocks

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NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - Big tech pushed Wall Street to a higher close on Thursday, modestly building on a two-day rally as lackluster economic data and mixed corporate earnings sent investors back to growth stocks.

A pull-back in economically sensitive cyclicals kept the S&P 500's and the blue-chip Dow's gains muted, while small-caps (.RUT) underperformed their larger rivals.

But megacap tech and tech-adjacent stocks such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O), (AMZN.O), Facebook Inc (FB.O), Google-owner Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) rose ahead of their quarterly results next week, putting the Nasdaq out front.

All three major U.S. stock indexes ended the session within 1% of their record closing highs.

Growth stocks (.IGX), which outperformed throughout the health crisis, were back in favor, while the value index (.IVX) slipped.

"The market is flip-flopping between the view that economic growth has almost peaked so you need to buy stocks that manufacture their own growth like tech names, versus the view that economic growth will continue and you want to own cyclicals and value names," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.

The number of U.S. workers filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits (USJOB=ECI) spiked unexpectedly to 419,000 last week, a two-month high, according to the Labor Department. read more

Market participants are closely watching labor market indicators for hints as to when the Federal Reserve, expected to convene next week for its two-day monetary policy meeting, will begin discussions about hiking key interest rates from near zero.

"The jobless data today didn’t have a meaningful impact on markets or the economic outlook," Carter added. "It’s now all about how much longer the Fed will tolerate low rates. The Fed seems to be favoring its full employment mandate more than its price stability mandate."

"Accordingly, the upcoming Fed meeting could be impactful," Carter said.

Benchmark Treasury yields eased after the bid at the largest-ever TIPS auction touched a record low, pressuring rate sensitive banks.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 24.75 points, or 0.07%, to 34,822.75, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 8.79 points, or 0.20%, to 4,367.48 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 52.64 points, or 0.36%, to 14,684.60.

The second-quarter reporting season barreled ahead at full-throttle, with 104 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 88% have beaten consensus estimates, according to Refinitiv.

Analysts currently see aggregate year-on-year S&P earnings growth of 76.5% for the April to June period, a substantial increase from the 54% projected at the beginning of the quarter.

Drugmaker Biogen Inc (BIIB.O) rose after hiking its full-year revenue guidance, while Domino's Pizza Inc (DPZ.N) surged to an all-time high on the heels of its quarterly report. read more

Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, sending its stock down, and American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) dipped even after reporting a quarterly profit. read more

The S&P 1500 Airlines index (.SPCOMAIR) lost altitude on the day.

Shares of Texas Instruments Inc (TXN.O) slid after its current-quarter revenue forecast cast concerns as to whether chipmaker will be able to meet spiking demand in the face of a global semiconductor shortage.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index was among the session's losers.

Reporting by Stephen Culp" Additonal reporting by Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru Editing by Marguerita Choy

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