* Technology stocks lead S&P gainers
* Coty tumbles after reporting a surprise loss
* More stocks hits highs than lows for first time in 10 days
* Indexes up: Dow 0.68 pct, S&P 0.79 pct, Nasdaq 1.14 pct
* Yellen’s speech at Jackson Hole on Friday awaited (Updates to early afternoon)
By Sruthi Shankar
Aug 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in early afternoon trading on Tuesday, with all the three major indexes poised for their best one-day percentage gains in more than a week, led by technology stocks.
Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the heavyweight tech index up 1.27 percent, rising for the first time in four days.
The materials index also jumped more than 1 percent, poised for its best day in four weeks, boosted by rising commodity and metals prices.
Metals prices, including of copper, zinc and nickel, were higher, despite a slight pullback, against a backdrop of strong results for mining firms and talk of shortages in some metals.
The absence of major news from the White House and on the tensions between the United States and North Korea – two major factors that roiled the market in the past two weeks – also helped calm nerves.
“As the pockets of political worries that have caused short-term spikes and volatility ebb and flow, the market is rightfully focused on the solid fundamentals,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist for Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company.
“We’ve had a decent economic backdrop against moderate inflation. As long as inflation remains moderate, I think the market continues to move higher”.
At 12:50 p.m. ET (1650 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 148.23 points, or 0.68 percent, at 21,851.98 and the S&P 500 was up 19.15 points, or 0.79 percent, at 2,447.52.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 70.75 points, or 1.14 percent, at 6,283.87.
So far, 257 stocks have hit new 52-week highs, while 244 have hit fresh 52-week lows across all U.S. exchanges. If the ratio holds, it will mark the first time in ten sessions that more stocks have hit highs than lows.
Investors await the annual central bankers meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later this week. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday will be closely watched for a steer on U.S. monetary policy, but central bank observers do not expect her to give new guidance.
Among stocks, Freeport jumped 3.9 percent on news that Indonesia expects to strike an agreement this month to allow the miner to keep operating its copper mine in Papua.
Macy’s rose as much as 4.6 percent putting the stock on track for its best day in nearly 7 months, after announcing restructuring and job cuts.
Coty tumbled 17.7 percent, on course for its worst single-day percentage fall, after the beauty products maker posted a surprise quarterly loss.
DSW shares jumped 23.5 percent after the footwear retailer reported a surprise rise in comparable sales.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,955 to 847. On the Nasdaq, 1,965 issues rose and 855 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)