February 1, 2017 / 3:00 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St higher as Apple powers tech rally; Fed in focus

* Tech, financials boost S&P 500

* Fed policy statement expected at 2:00 pm ET

* Indexes up: Dow 0.51 pct, S&P 0.43 pct, Nasdaq 0.82 pct (Updates to open)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened higher on Wednesday as Apple fueled a rally in technology stocks, while investors awaited the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates.

Apple’s shares were up 5.1 percent at $127.40 after the company’s earnings and iPhone sales blew past expectations in the latest quarter.

The stock was the top boost to all the three main indexes and added 40 points to the Dow’s 90-point rise.

“With a bellwether company such as Apple reporting an encouraging set of numbers, it has brought the focus of investors back on company fundamentals,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

While Apple opened at its highest level since July 2015, shares of other technology heavyweights also jumped. Facebook , which is expected to report after markets close, was up 1.1 percent. Alphabet and Nvidia also rose.

Investors are closely tracking quarterly earnings to support valuations, especially after a post-election rally pushed Wall Street to record highs.

The Fed is expected to keep interest rates unchanged in its first policy meeting after President Donald Trump took office as the central bank seeks greater clarity on his economic policies.

Investors will parse the Fed’s policy statement, expected at 2:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), for any changes following a string of strong economic data.

Sentiment was also boosted by a report that showed U.S. U.S. private employers added 246,000 jobs in January, the most in seven months, pointing to sustained strength in the labor market. The report acts as a precursor to the more comprehensive nonfarm payrolls report due Friday.

At 9:36 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 100.74 points, or 0.51 percent, at 19,964.83, the S&P 500 was up 9.88 points, or 0.43 percent, at 2,288.75 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 46.14 points, or 0.82 percent, at 5,660.93.

Trump’s comments and decisions are also in investors’ crosshairs, especially after he placed curbs on travel to the United States, a move that unleashed uncertainty on Wall Street and declines in the past few days.

“Trump is a wild card and someone who can say something at any given time and drive the markets into short-term disarray,” Bakhos said.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with technology’s 0.88 percent gain giving the biggest boost to the broader index, followed by financials.

Apple’s influence extended to other parts of the technology industry. Apple suppliers Cirrus Logic rose 3.8 percent and Skyworks Solutions was up 2.6 percent.

Oneok Partners jumped 31 percent to $56.57 after biggest shareholder Oneok Inc said it would buy the rest of the company for $9.3 billion.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,900 to 725. On the Nasdaq, 1,652 issues rose and 590 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 23 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 72 new highs and five new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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