* Early weakness brings in the buyers, VIX slides
* S&P 500 touches highest intraday level since October 2007
* BlackBerry jumps 12 percent, Z10 sales to start in U.S.
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 500 up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street inched higher on
Monday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its seventh straight
advance as buyers moved in after earlier weakness and briefly
lifted the benchmark index to its highest intraday level since
With the modest advance, U.S. stocks continued last week's
rally that took the Dow Jones industrial average to record
highs. The S&P 500 is only about 10 points away from its
all-time closing high.
Wall Street's "fear gauge" fell to the lowest level since
April 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 6.7 percent to 11.75.
U.S. equities have rallied strongly since the beginning of
the year, helped by signs of improvement in the economy and the
support of equities by the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing
program, making recent pullbacks short lived as investors use
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."
On Monday, the S&P 500 rose to its highest intraday level
since Oct. 15, 2007.
The Dow has climbed 10 percent for the year, while the S&P
500 is up more than 9 percent.
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.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 44.46 points,
or 0.31 percent, to 14,441.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 4.81 points, or 0.31 percent, to 1,555.99. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 6.70 points, or 0.21
percent, to 3,251.11.
The U.S.-listed shares of BlackBerry surged
12 percent to $14.63 after U.S. carriers said they would soon
begin selling the company's long-delayed Z10 device.
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 1.7 percent to $14.40, above the take-private
offer price of $13.65.
Genworth Financial Inc shares jumped 6.5 percent to
$10.48 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 slid 10.3
percent to $45.40 after the retailer reported
lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results and gave a