Tech rally fuels Nasdaq to near record levels

(Reuters) – Apple (AAPL.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) led a rally in technology stocks on Monday, driving U.S. stocks higher, after the iPhone maker kicked off its annual developers conference and the Windows software maker snagged a popular coding website.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Apple unveiled its latest operating system iOS 12 at the conference. Its stock gained as much as 1.7 percent, providing the biggest boost to S&P 500 .SPX and tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC, and taking the company’s valuation to about $951 billion.

“Given Apple’s close proximity to a $1 trillion market capitalization, the focus on the stock performance following WWDC might be greater,” BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk wrote in a note.

“Apple’s stock would need to rise $12 to $202 to clear the milestone. Unfortunately, Apple has not typically demonstrated that type of performance following a WWDC.”

Microsoft’s shares rose about 1 percent after it announced a $7.5 billion deal to buy privately held coding website GitHub Inc.

The S&P technology index .SPLCT was up 0.9 percent, while the Nasdaq was only 0.6 percent away from hitting a record.

The tech boost added to the momentum from Friday’s better-than expected jobs data, leading the indexes higher for the second day in a row.

“Economic data has been getting quietly better amid the sort of headline chaos,” Tom Essaye, founder of investment research firm Sevens Report said.

“The market has been focusing on those fundamentals and there has been a resiliency in stocks in the past couple of weeks because of better economic data and tame inflation.”

At 12:44 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 186.25 points, or 0.76 percent, at 24,821.46, the S&P 500

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