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US: Wall St moves higher, led by tech; Nasdaq hits record

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[NEW YORK] The Nasdaq hit a record intraday high on Tuesday, with the overall gain in US stocks led by technology and financial companies, as investors weighed the prospect of an interest rate hike this year.

As the US earnings season winds down, the focus shifts to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's upcoming speech on Friday at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for clues on when the central bank will raise rates.

Ms Yellen's stance will either support or dismiss the perceived hawkish stand that Fed policymakers have taken in recent days. Various officials, including Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, have hinted that a rate hike in the coming months was possible.

Traders' bets of a rate hike in September stand at 15 percent, and go up to 40 per cent for December, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

Market voices on:

"... By no means will the Fed want to cut off the bait for the September or December meeting," said Steven Wieting, global chief investment strategist at Citi Private Bank.

At 9:38 am ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 93.14 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 18,622.56.

The S&P 500 was up 9.57 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 2,192.21, just 1 point away from its all-time intraday high.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 24.05 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 5,268.66. It hit a record high of 5,272.51.

All 10 major S&P 500 indexes were higher. The technology index rose 0.61 per cent, boosted by gains in Apple and Microsoft among others.

The financial index rose 0.47 percent.

The materials sector gained 0.99 percent, mainly due to Monsanto's 4 per cent rise on a Bloomberg report that the US seeds company's merger talks with German suitor Bayer AG were advancing toward a deal.

Shares of Best Buy jumped 16.6 per cent 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.

JM Smucker dropped 5.9 per cent to US$147.56 after the processed foods maker posted lower-than-expected quarterly sales.

Zoe's Kitchen plunged 18.4 per cent to US$30.28 after the restaurant chain operator's second-quarter revenue missed analysts' expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,245 to 418. On the Nasdaq, 1,639 issues rose and 579 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 19 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 66 new highs and five new lows.