* Microsoft hits record high on strong results
* Trump threatens tariff on $500 bln worth of Chinese goods
* GE dips on cut in cash target forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 0.13 pct, S&P 0.08 pct, Nasdaq 0.17 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)
By Amy Caren Daniel
July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes edged higher on Friday as technology stocks rose on the back of solid results from Microsoft, easing fears of a rising trade spat after President Donald Trump toughened his stance against China.
Microsoft rose as much as 3.6 percent to a record high of $108.20 and was the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Dow Industrials.
President Trump said he was ready to impose tariffs on all $500 billion of imported goods from China, unnerving financial markets in premarket trading.
His comments on tariffs followed the United States and China imposing levies on $34 billion worth of each other’s goods earlier this month.
“The markets have shrugged off the external influences and are now focusing on a very positive earnings backdrop,” said Ed Keon, chief investment strategist at QMA in Newark, New Jersey.
The trade-sensitive industrial group, which was fell earlier in the session, rose 0.16 percent. But shares of GE fell 4.5 percent after it lowered annual cash target.
The industrial conglomerate’s CEO John Flannery said he expects new tariffs on its imports from China to push up its overall costs by $300 million to $400 million.
The information technology sector rose 0.30 percent, with shares of Facebook, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet gaining between 0.3 percent and 1 percent.
As the second-quarter reporting period gains momentum, analysts forecast for profit at S&P 500 companies have risen to 22 percent, compared with the 20.7 percent gain seen on July 1, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Of the 87 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, 83.9 percent have topped profit expectations, compared with a 75 percent beat rate over the past four quarters.
At 12:48 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 31.57 points, or 0.13 percent, at 25,096.07, the S&P 500 was up 2.17 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,806.66 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 13.58 points, or 0.17 percent, at 7,838.88.
The defensive real estate and utilities sectors fell the most among the seven main S&P sectors that were trading lower.
Skechers USA plunged 22.2 percent after the shoemaker posted disappointing quarterly results and forecast.
On the other hand, VF Corp rose 4.2 percent after the Vans sneaker maker reported robust quarterly results and raised its forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.03-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.19-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 95 new highs and 29 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)