U.S. Stocks Advance; Technology Rallies – Kara-advisors

U.S. stocks advanced, led by technology companies, as growth in retail sales topped estimates and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said the economy will pick up, tempering concern about Europe’s debt crisis.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) rose 2.2 percent, driving technology companies to the biggest advance among 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Intel Corp. (INTC) climbed 2.8 percent, the most in the Dow Jones Industrial AverageWal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) fell 2.5 percent as profit at the world’s largest retailer trailed forecasts.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to 1,256.80 at 12:38 p.m. New York time, rebounding from a 0.6 percent loss. The Dow added 37.43 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,116.41.

“It’s a tug of war,” Michael Strauss, who helps oversee about $27 billion as chief investment strategist at Commonfund in Wilton,Connecticut, said in a telephone interview. “We’ve got these challenges in Europe, but the bottom-line in the U.S. is that we have modest economic growth. The economic numbers are providing a shock-absorber for the market.”

Technology stocks in the S&P 500 advanced 1.1 percent, withsemiconductor companies rallying 1.8 percent.

Computer and software makers may extend gains as a gauge of the industry surged to the highest ratio versus the S&P 500 in more than nine years, according to Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

The level of the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK), an exchange-traded fund that tracks companies including Apple Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), divided by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust was 0.2128 on Oct. 17, the highest since January 2002, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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