July 24, 2018 / 5:35 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street lifted by Alphabet; oil, metal prices boost

* Alphabet jumps on strong Q2 results, lifts other tech stocks

* Agriculture companies gain on Trump relief plan for farmers

* Oil prices boost energy stocks, metal prices also gain

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

* Indexes: Dow up 0.86 pct, S&P up 0.49 pct, Nasdaq down 0.06 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 offset concerns of a U.S.-China trade war and a strengthening dollar.

Shares of Alphabet jumped 5.3 percent to a record $1,275 after the online search giant's quarterly results trounced Wall Street estimates.

Google's parent was the biggest boost to the S&P 500 as well as Nasdaq, and helped push the S&P technology sector up 0.49 percent. Facebook and Amazon were up 1.6 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Both report earnings 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.

"It has been a very good year for earnings and stock prices have not reflected the earnings potential," said Jamie Cox, managing director for Harris Financial Group Richmond, Virginia.

"With all the talk of tariffs and trade negotiations denting earnings, so far we have not seen its impact and therefore markets are responding very favorably."

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

Caterpillar rose 1.5 percent, while Agco was up 1.6 percent and Deere jumped 3.7 percent.

At 1:02 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 214.25 points, or 0.86 percent, at 25,258.54, the S&P 500 was up 13.87 points, or 0.49 percent, at 2,820.85.

The Nasdaq Composite, which hit a record high earlier in the day, was down 5.09 points, or 0.06 percent, at 7,836.78.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading higher. The materials sector led the gains with a 1.51 percent rise as prices of metals, especially aluminum rose.

The energy sector, up 1.36 percent, was boosted by higher crude oil prices as the market shifted focus to the possibility of increased Chinese demand.

Netflix dropped 2 percent and was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

Harley-Davidson jumped 6.9 percent after its profit beat estimates and the company forecast a lower-than-expected hit to margins from tariffs.

Whirlpool tumbled 14.3 percent to a more than two-year low after reporting weak quarterly results and cutting its full-year forecasts.

Biogen rose 3.7 percent and Eli Lilly rose 2.5 percent, both hitting their highest in three years after strong results. Lilly also said it would take its animal health unit public.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.16-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.75-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 32 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 111 new highs and 38 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shounak Dasgupta)

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