Wall Street ends higher with help from tech, energy

December 11, 2017 7:50 AM EST

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street indexes closed higher on Monday and the biggest drivers were technology and energy sectors as oil prices rose and investors waited for an expected U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike later in the week.

Technology stocks were back in favor with the biggest boost from Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) as investors eyed a continuation of strong fundamentals in the sector.

"Investors are a little exhausted from the rise of the market and making sector moves," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey. "They're not willing to commit a whole lot of new money at these levels but they're rotating a bit. Some of it is year-end tax planning."

Traders, waiting for the Fed's two-day rate setting meeting to begin on Tuesday, see an 85-percent probability for a 25 basis point hike to the Fed funds rate target and a 15-percent chance of a 50 basis point hike, which would be the third rate hike this year, according to CME Group's Fedwatch tool.

"Valuations are getting to the point where even good news on the economy might pose some additional risks to the market. There's the risk that good news for the economy may be bad news for markets because the Fed is at the cusp of a level of tightening that could dampen growth," said Mark Heppenstall, CIO at Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 56.87 points, or 0.23 percent, to 24,386.03, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 8.49 points, or 0.32 percent, to 2,659.99 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 35.00 points, or 0.51 percent, to 6,875.08.

Most of the 11 major S&P sectors ended higher, with the biggest boost from a 0.8 percent gain in information technology stocks <.SPLRCT>. The S&P energy <.SPNY> index rose 0.71 percent as oil prices rose after a North Sea pipeline shut for repairs. [O/R]

The S&P's financial <.SPSY> and industrial <.SPLRCI> sectors were the benchmark's only decliners for the day with losses of around 0.2 percent.

Healthcare investors focused on makers of drugs for blood disorders after clinical data presentations at the annual American Society of Hematology four-day meeting in Atlanta.

Shares of Bluebird Bio (NASDAQ: BLUE) closed up 17.9 percent at $201.8, after hitting a record high of $222.03, following news of positive responses in an early stage myeloma study of its experimental gene-modifying immunotherapy drug co-developed with Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG). Celgene's shares rose 1.8 percent.

Interest in the surge in digital currency bitcoin and the Sunday debut of futures trading in the cryptocurrency continued to fuel bets on related stocks. Shares of Marathon Patent (NASDAQ: MARA) rose 42.9 percent while Xunlei (NASDAQ: XNET) climbed 29.4 percent. Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ: RIOT) rose about 45.5 percent. The equity market appeared to shrug off an early morning explosion that officials called an attempted terrorist attack at one of New York's busiest commuter hubs. The suspect wounded himself and three others.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.18-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.14-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 84 new highs and 55 new lows.

More than 5.85 billion shares changed hands on U.S. stock exchanges compared with the 6.5 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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