REFILE-US STOCKS-Wall St edges up as Apple leads tech sector higher

Last Updated: Mon, May 06, 2013 17:10 hrs

* Apple up more than 2 pct, boosts Nasdaq

* More upside momentum seen in equities: analysts

* Indexes: Dow flat, S&P up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged up on Monday, boosted by the tech sector, as Wall Street extended a rally that pushed the Dow and S&P 500 to record highs last week on improving earnings and reassuring signs about the economy.

Apple shares were among the top gainers after Barclays raised its price target on the stock. Apple shares were up more than 2 percent at $460.67 and giving the biggest boosts to the Nasdaq composite index and benchmark S&P.

Market watchers said there is more room for stocks to rise as investors use weakness in the market as an opportunity to add to positions.

"Until we see a clear change in momentum, pullbacks should still be viewed as long-term buying opportunities," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

"With that said, a completely unexpected event could easily spark a pullback, especially at these lofty levels, so active traders intending to stay long should also consider maintaining downside hedges. I remain on high alert for a potentially larger correction in May or early June."

Although weak economic data from the euro zone and China has caused concerns over the global growth outlook, Friday's stronger-than-expected U.S. payrolls report fueled the gains that took the indexes to record levels.

Equities have been strong so far this year, with the S&P 500 up more than 13 percent in 2013 on the back of strong corporate earnings and accommodating monetary policies that have kept interest rates low.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 3.13 points, or 0.02 percent, at 14,977.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 3.40 points, or 0.21 percent, at 1,617.82. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 13.24 points, or 0.39 percent, at 3,391.87.

Shares of MBIA jumped nearly 50 percent to $14.46 following a news report regarding a settlement of ongoing dispute with Bank of America. Bank of America shares were up 4 percent at $12.74.

Humana Inc jumped 2.5 percent to $75.85 as one of S&P 500's biggest percentage gainers. JPMorgan upgraded the stock to "overweight."

But Johnson & Johnson shares were down 1 percent at $84.90, weighing on the blue-chip Dow average.

BMC Software Inc agreed to be acquired by a private equity group led by Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital Corp for about $6.9 billion. Shares were up 0.2 percent to $45.50.

Tyson Foods Inc reported a steep drop in its second-quarter earnings as customers switched to chicken from beef to save money. The stock dropped 4.5 percent to $23.88, the biggest percentage decliner on the S&P 500.

The U.S. Treasury said it will begin another round of sales of General Motors stock acquired during the government's bailout of the auto sector. GM stock was down 0.2 percent at $32.03 in midday trade.

Of the 404 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 68.3 percent have beaten earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, though only 46.3 percent have reported revenue above expectations. Over the past four quarters, 67 percent of companies beat on earnings and 52 percent beat revenue estimates.

Warren Buffett said on Monday low interest rates have made bonds "terrible" investments, but stocks are "reasonably priced," and he continues to shy away from sectors such as media where he cannot predict which will thrive in the long run.

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