US STOCKS-Wall Street extends rally, led by banks and tech stocks

Last Updated: Wed, May 08, 2013 15:20 hrs

* Nasdaq outperforms broader market as Apple gains

* Disney profit beats expectations, Whole Foods ups outlook

* Analysts see value in sectors tied to economic growth

* Indexes: Dow flat; S&P up 0.2 pct; Nasdaq up 0.3 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, May 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged up on Wednesday, boosted by financial and technology sectors, and were set to scale fresh highs as a rally continued for a fifth consecutive session.

The S&P 500 financial sector index rose 0.5 percent with JPMorgan Chase up 1.4 percent at $49.84. It was among the top gainers on the Dow index.

Technology stocks also outperformed the broader market, boosting the Nasdaq index. Apple shares rose more than 1 percent after falling in the previous session.

Wall Street had started off lower as investors locked in profits after four days of gains which took equity indexes to new highs a day earlier. But the market rebounded in early morning trade as investors saw the dip as an opportunity to buy.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.85 points, or 0.01 percent, at 15,057.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.75 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,628.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 9.63 points, or 0.28 percent, at 3,406.26.

Boosting the Nasdaq, Apple shares rose 1.1 percent to $463.50 and Google Inc rose 1.7 percent to $871.49.

Among bank stocks, Bank of America shares rose 1.1 percent to $13.04 and Citigroup Inc was up 1.3 percent at $48.75.

The S&P has climbed 2.7 percent over the past four sessions, and is up about 14 percent this year. Both the S&P and the Dow closed at new highs on Tuesday, with the Dow ending above 15,000 for the first time ever.

"While the U.S. equity market is widely believed to be tracking ahead of economic growth, broad market valuations are fair and not at extremes, implying still further upside," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Wall Street hasn't yet undergone a sustained decline this year as investors have bought on market declines. Robust corporate results and accommodative monetary policies by the Federal Reserve have buoyed the market's gains, which have recently been led by cyclical sectors tied to the pace of economic growth.

"We have a lot of interest in energy and material names at these levels," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "Both seem like big growth areas that are undervalued."

Late on Tuesday, Dow component Walt Disney Co reported earnings that beat expectations and revenue that was up 10 percent, while Whole Foods Market Inc reported a rebound in same-store sales and raised its full-year profit view.

Shares of Disney dipped 1.6 percent to $64.95 while Whole Foods advanced more than 10 percent to $102.72.

J.C. Penney Co Inc reported another quarter of steep sales declines, though investors were cheered that the troubled department store posted cash levels that implied it had gone through less money than feared. The stock rose 6.5 percent to $17.45 but remains down about 13 percent on the year.

AOL Inc fell 9.5 percent to $37.50 after reporting earnings that missed expectations, though revenue rose more than anticipated.

Earnings have largely been better than expected this quarter, with about 68.5 percent of S&P 500 companies surpassing estimates so far. At the same time, revenues have been disappointing.

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