July 24, 2018 / 4:15 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Alphabet lifts Nasdaq to record high; oil, metal prices boost

* Alphabet jumps on strong Q2 results, lifts other techs

* Agriculture stocks gain on Trump relief plan for farmers

* Oil prices boost energy companies, metal prices also gain

* S&P hits highest since Feb. 1, less than 2 pct off record

* Indexes up: Dow 0.79 pct, S&P 0.57 pct, Nasdaq 0.43 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

July 24 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq Composite hit a record high on Tuesday as Alphabet's blowout results sparked a rally in high-growth stocks and bolstered expectations of a robust earnings season, while a rise in oil and metal prices boosted energy and material companies.

The benchmark S&P 500 index rose to its highest since early February and is within 2 percent of its late-January record as a clutch of robust earnings helped investors shake off concerns over a U.S.-China trade war and a strengthening dollar.

Shares of Alphabet jumped 5.3 percent to an all-time high of $1,275.00 after the online search giant's quarterly results trounced Wall Street targets.

The Google-parent was the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and helped push the S&P technology sector 0.82 percent higher. Facebook and Amazon were up 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. Both report later this week.

Tech stocks have led the recovery from the early 2018 tumult that dragged U.S. stocks into a correction and have helped erase nearly all of the broader market's losses.

Agriculture-related stocks gained on news that the Trump administration plans to announce aid for U.S. farmers to help protect them from the repercussions of spats between the United States and its trade partners.

Caterpillar jumped 2 percent, while Deere gained 4.2 percent and Agco 1.8 percent.

"The markets are really anchored into fundamentals and looking at the earnings, which is heavy this week," said David Lyon, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in San Francisco.

At 11:39 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 198.27 points, or 0.79 percent, at 25,242.56, the S&P 500 was up 15.95 points, or 0.57 percent, at 2,822.93 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 33.90 points, or 0.43 percent, at 7,875.78.

Still, declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.22-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq, while advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.38-to-1 ratio on the NYSE.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading higher. The energy sector led the gainers, with a 1.26 percent rise on the back of higher crude oil prices.

The materials sector gained 1.22 percent as prices of metals, especially aluminum, rose.

Netflix dropped 1.3 percent and was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

Harley-Davidson jumped 7.9 percent after its profit beat estimates and it forecast a lower-than-expected hit to margins from tariffs.

Whirlpool tumbled 13.7 percent to a more than two-year low after reporting weak quarterly results and cutting its full-year forecasts.

Biogen rose 4.1 percent and Eli Lilly rose 2.3 percent, both hitting their highest in three years after strong results. Lilly also said it would take its animal health unit public.

The S&P index recorded 31 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 107 new highs and 31 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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