* S&P 500 hits record intraday high
* Irma further weakens to tropical depression
* Financials gain as bond yields rise
* Apple slips in volatile trade during iPhone launch event
* Indexes up: Dow 0.23 pct, S&P 0.22 pct, Nasdaq 0.05 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary, changes byline)
By Sinead Carew
Sept 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 hitting a record intraday high as investor concerns about U.S. tensions with North Korea eased and the financial impact from Hurricane Irma appeared less severe than feared.
The financial sector was the S&P 500’s biggest driver as bank stocks were helped by rising U.S. Treasury yields, while utilities and real estate stocks were out of favor.
“It’s a better environment for risk assets. As long as these two issues -- North Korea and the hurricane -- have receded as concerns it gives investors a green light to focus on stronger fundamentals,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Boston.
Concerns around Hurricane Irma’s impact receded as it weakened to a tropical depression, while investors shrugged off fresh developments related to North Korea.
“There’s a relief factor, at least for the moment, that the North Korea situation has gone a little bit quiet, and the fact that the hurricane over the weekend was not as bad as expected,” said Dave Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management.
Apple’s shares had a volatile afternoon and were last down 0.3 percent at $160.95, below a session high of $163.96, as investors reacted to its unveiling of the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone. The stock turned negative during product demonstrations.
Apple was the second-biggest drag on the S&P behind McDonald‘s, which fell more than 3 percent on concerns about its third-quarter results.
At 2:59PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 50.42 points, or 0.23 percent, to 22,107.79, the S&P 500 gained 5.52 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,493.63 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.42 points, or 0.05 percent, to 6,435.68.
Most of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1.4 percent rise in the telecom services index.
Financials rose more than 1 percent, with many of the biggest banks gaining between 1 percent and more than 3 percent. U.S. Treasury 10-year yields hit a three-week high after a 10-year note auction.
Also, Goldman Sachs unveiled a growth plan that could add as much as $5 billion in revenue annually.
The S&P Utilities and Real Estate sectors were the laggards of the day, with 1.8 percent and 1.3 percent declines as investors shied away from interest rate- sensitive stocks.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.76-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.60-to-1 ratio favored advancers. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza and Dan Grebler)