August 23, 2016 / 3:32 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St moves higher led by tech, strong housing data

* Nasdaq hits a record intraday high

* New single-family home sales unexpectedly rise in July

* Investors await Fed Chair Yellen’s Friday speech

* Indexes up: Dow 0.27 pct, S&P 0.39 pct, Nasdaq 0.45 pct (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Aug 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock rose on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq hitting a record intraday high, led by technology companies and robust housing market data.

With the U.S. earnings season winding down, investors are also weighing up the prospect of an interest rate hike in the coming months.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday at Jackson Hole will be scrutinized for clues on the timing of a rate hike, especially after some Fed policymakers have in recent days hinted at the possibility of a hike in the coming months.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is up about 7 percent this year. Its recent run to record highs has been partly supported by expectations that the Fed will continue to keep rates low, as well as some upbeat earnings and economic news.

Data on Tuesday showed new U.S. single-family home sales unexpectedly rose in July, reaching their highest level in nearly nine years as demand increased broadly, brightening the housing market outlook.

“If we continue to keep getting strong economic data it will become hard for the Fed to rationalize not hiking rates,” said Erik Wytenus, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Palm Beach Florida.

“We’re seeing an almost eerily quite, very subdued continued melt-up environment.”

At 11:04 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 50.75 points, or 0.27 percent, at 18,580.17.

The S&P 500 was up 8.45 points, or 0.39 percent, at 2,191.09.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 23.40 points, or 0.45 percent, at 5,268.00. It hit a record high of 5,275.74.

Nine of the 10 major S&P 500 indexes were higher, led by a 0.76 percent gain in the materials index.

But the biggest boost was from the technology index’s 0.55 percent gain, powered by Apple and Microsoft among others.

Energy stocks jumped 0.61 percent as oil prices reversed course to rise nearly 2 percent following a Reuters report that Iran seemed more willing for OPEC action to boost prices.

J.M. Smucker dropped 8.2 percent after posting lower-than-expected quarterly sales and was chiefly responsible for the consumer staples index edging lower.

Best Buy jumped 16.6 percent after the electronics retailer posted a surprise rise in quarterly comparable store sales. The stock was the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,338 to 530. On the Nasdaq, 1,985 issues rose and 666 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 26 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 118 new highs and seven new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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