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US: Energy, tech shares lead stocks higher

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[NEW YORK] Energy and technology stocks were among the better performers Tuesday as Wall Street finished slightly higher ahead of Thursday's much-anticipated British vote on whether to leave the European Union.

Oil-linked stocks including Anadarko Petroleum, Apache and Halliburton all rose more than one percent despite a dip in oil prices.

Several big technology equities were also strong, with Apple rising 0.9 per cent and Microsoft 2.2 per cent.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen offered a cautious outlook in congressional testimony, pointing to "considerable uncertainty" in the economy, in part due to expectations for a tight vote on Thursday's referendum in Britain.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1 per cent to 17,829.73.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.3 per cent to 2,088.90, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.1 per cent to 4,843.76.

United Continental jumped 3.4 per cent as it pledged a series of cost-cutting and operational improvements to save more than US$3 billion by 2018.

Netflix fell 3.0 per cent on worries that higher subscription prices will prompt some consumers to ditch the service.

Dow member Boeing dipped 0.9 per cent as it announced a tentative deal to sell Iran Air new aircraft in a transaction estimated to be worth as much as US$25 billion. The agreement, subject to US government approval, would be the largest between a US business and Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Biotech shares were in retreat, with Celgene falling 2.5 per cent, Biogen 1.9 per cent and Gilead Sciences 1.5 per cent.

AFP