* Early weakness brings in the buyers, VIX slides
* S&P 500 touches highest intraday level since October 2007
* BlackBerry shares jump, Z10 sales to start in U.S.
* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P 500 up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street rose modestly on
Monday, lifting the Dow to another record and giving the S&P 500
its seventh straight advance as early weakness enticed buyers.
The gains briefly lifted the benchmark S&P 500 index to its
highest intraday level since October 2007.
With the slight advance, U.S. stocks continued last week's
rally with the Dow Jones industrial average ending at a
record closing high, up 50.22 points, or 0.35 percent, at
14,447.29. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 5.04
points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,556.22, just below its record
closing high of 1,565.15 reached on Oct. 9, 2007.
Earlier in the session the S&P 500 climbed as high as
1,556.27 - its highest intraday level since Oct. 15, 2007.
The Dow has gained over 10 percent for the year, while the
S&P 500 is up more than 9 percent.
The Nasdaq Composite Index added 8.51 points, or
0.26 percent, to close at 3,252.87.
Meanwhile, Wall Street's "fear gauge" closed at its lowest
level since February 2007, suggesting investors were not spooked
by Monday's brief pullback, despite expectations by many
investors that a correction may be looming. The CBOE Volatility
Index, known as the VIX, dropped 8.2 percent to 11.56.
U.S. equities have rallied since the start of the year,
helped by signs of improvement in the economy and the support of
equities by the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program.
These factors have contained recent pullbacks as investors have
used them as a buying opportunity.
"These dips are consistently bought. There is definitely a
soft floor for the market," said Peter Kenny, managing director
at Knight Capital in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"It's a QE bid," Kenny said, referring to the Fed's policy
of keeping short-term interest rates near zero since late 2008.
"Quite frankly, earnings have not disappointed to the point
where it is has been disrupted, and there is nothing out there
that seems to be getting in the way of this slow but very
consistent and methodical drift higher in the market."
But volume was light, with about 5.39 billion shares traded
on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE MKT and Nasdaq, below the
daily average of 6.47 billion, suggesting the rally may be
Wall Street had traded slightly lower earlier in the day as
Italy's credit downgrade and disappointing Chinese economic data
gave investors a reason to pause.
Earlier in the session, the Dow reached another lifetime
intraday high, rising as high as 14,448.06.
Boeing Co rose to $83.03, its highest level since May
2008, after the U.S. aircraft manufacturer said strong demand
was prompting it to increase its production rates of commercial
planes. The stock, which rose 2 percent to $82.94 at the close,
was the Dow's biggest percentage gainer. Boeing also gave the
biggest boost to the Dow in Monday's session.
The U.S.-listed shares of BlackBerry surged
14.1 percent to $14.90 after AT&T said it will start
selling the company's new BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen smartphone
in the United States on March 22.
Dell Inc has agreed to give Carl Icahn a closer
look at its books less than a week after the activist investor
joined a growing chorus of opposition to founder Michael Dell's
plan to take the world's No. 3 personal computer maker private.
Dell shares gained 1.5 percent to $14.37, above the take-private
offer price of $13.65.
Genworth Financial Inc shares jumped 6.7 percent to
$10.50 following a report by Barron's that the mortgage
insurer's stock could almost double in the next year, boosted by
gains in mortgage and healthcare pricing.
In contrast, Dick's Sporting Goods Inc tumbled 10.8
percent to $45.11 after the retailer reported
lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results and gave a
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by
1,586 to 1,375, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners by
1,254 to 1,192.