May 1, 2017 / 7:02 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Tech propels Wall St as Nasdaq sets record

* Financials gain despite Trump’s bank breakup comments

* Apple hits record high a day before results, leads tech

* U.S. factory activity slows; inflation pressures subside

* Indexes up: Dow 0.04 pct, S&P 0.34 pct, Nasdaq 0.8 pct (Updates to late afternoon)

By Lewis Krauskopf

May 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street rose on Monday, boosted by gains in Apple and other big tech stocks that more than offset weak economic data and pushed the Nasdaq to another record high.

Apple shares jumped 2.1 percent and set a record high, boosting all the three major Wall Street indexes. The iPhone maker is due to report its results on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 technology index, the best performing major group this year, climbed 0.9 percent, with Microsoft and Facebook also hitting all-time highs.

Investors braced for another heavy week of first-quarter corporate results in an earnings season that has exceeded expectations.

Overall, profits at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 13.6 percent in the first quarter, the most since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Market watchers have been looking for results to help justify stock valuations, as the S&P 500 has been trading about 20 percent above its long-term average, based on forward earnings estimates.

“One of the stories that really hit me was the way that earnings growth has improved over the course of the last week or so,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland.

“With that earnings growth picking up, I think there’s a sense that that will help not only bring down valuation a little bit, but give us a little bit more fuel for the rally as we continue through the remainder of the year.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7.66 points, or 0.04 percent, to 20,948.17, the S&P 500 gained 8.11 points, or 0.34 percent, to 2,392.31.

The Nasdaq Composite added 48.24 points, or 0.8 percent, to 6,095.84, and hit an intraday record high.

Financials rose 0.8 percent despite volatility caused by President Donald Trump’s comments that he was actively considering breaking up big banks.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin said that economic growth of 3 percent is achievable in the next two years as the Trump administration sets out to dramatically cut taxes.

Stock gains may have been muted by a series of tepid U.S. economic reports. U.S. factory activity slowed in April while consumer spending was unchanged in March and a key inflation measure recorded its first monthly drop since 2001.

Investors were bracing for more data later in the week, including Friday’s employment report, as well as for the two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting starting on Tuesday.

“The economic data today is causing some investor nervousness ahead of the jobs report this Friday,” said Matt Miskin, senior capital markets research analyst at John Hancock Investments in Boston.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.27-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 40 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 135 new highs and 48 new lows. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Nick Zieminski)

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