US STOCKS-Blue-chip tech stocks lift Dow to intraday record high

Last Updated: Tue, Apr 09, 2013 18:10 hrs

* Microsoft jumps nearly 4 pct and leads the Dow's advance

* U.S. earnings growth scaled back, Alcoa drops on revenue miss

* Department store J.C. Penney's stock falls after CEO shake-up

* Dow up 0.6 pct, S&P 500 up 0.6 pct, Nasdaq up 0.7 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 9 (Reuters) - Blue-chip technology stocks led Wall Street higher, lifting the Dow to a record intraday high by early afternoon trading on Tuesday after investors used the morning's modest decline as an opportunity to buy.

Microsoft shares ranked as the Dow's top percentage gainer, up 3.9 percent at $29.72. Intel Corp shares shot up 3.1 percent to $21.74, and helped push the semiconductor index up 1.1 percent. Hewlett-Packard rose 1.5 percent to $22.25.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 14,700 to touch a fresh intraday record high.

The three major U.S. stock indexes fluctuated between gains and losses in the morning as forecasts for U.S. first-quarter earnings have been scaled back. Profits are seen rising just 1.5 percent from a year-ago quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data. In January, earnings were forecast to rise 4.3 percent.

Recent data have shown the U.S. economy is growing but at a slow pace. The March payrolls report showed jobs creation was less than half of what economists had expected.

Analysts said, however, that the market has the momentum to push indexes higher, even with the Dow Jones industrial average up about 12 percent and the S&P 500 up about 10 percent for the year.

"The economy is still moving in the right direction, just less speedily than we want to see," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 83.81 points, or 0.57 percent, at 14,697.29, after earlier reaching a record intraday high at 14,706.52. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 9.04 points, or 0.58 percent, at 1,572.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 23.70 points, or 0.74 percent, at 3,245.95.

Alcoa Inc, the first Dow component to release results, reported a higher quarterly profit but lower-than-expected revenue after the bell on Monday. Shares of the largest U.S. aluminum producer dipped 0.2 percent to $8.37.

J.C. Penney was the S&P 500's largest percentage loser as its stock tumbled 11.5 percent to $14.05 after the department store's board ousted Chief Executive Ron Johnson and replaced him with his predecessor.

Though Penney's board may not face serious legal challenges, shareholders may question whether the move to replace Johnson with Myron Ullman, who Johnson himself replaced in late 2011, is good for them.

Shares of nutritional company Herbalife fell 4.1 percent to $36.83 after the company announced KPMG had resigned as Herbalife's independent accountant after one of its senior partners engaged in insider trading in Herbalife stock.

Earlier, the stock was halted from trading after the New York Times reported KPMG would resign.

In the tech sector, Microsoft, Nokia and other companies have stepped up requests to European Union antitrust regulators to take action against Google, accusing it of blocking competition in mobile telephony.

U.S.-listed shares of Nokia gained 3 percent to $3.39. Google shares added 0.9 percent to $781.87.

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