June 4, 2018 / 3:46 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street higher as Apple leads tech rally

* Apple biggest boost to S&P, Nasdaq

* Microsoft to buy GitHub for $7.5 bln

* Merck gains, Nektar plunges after latest cancer drug data

* Indexes gain: Dow 0.73 pct, S&P 0.27 pct, Nasdaq 0.28 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Medha Singh

June 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Monday led by gains in technology shares and Friday’s robust jobs data, which gave investors heightened confidence that the U.S. economy remained strong.

Apple rose 1 percent, providing the biggest boost to Nasdaq and S&P 500 indexes.

The iPhone maker was valued at $935.06 billion as of Friday’s close, inching its way towards becoming the first publicly listed company worth $1 trillion, ahead of its annual developers conference.

Microsoft inched 0.5 percent higher after saying it would buy privately held coding website GitHub Inc for $7.5 billion to expand its position among software developers.

The S&P technology index was 0.5 percent higher and tech-laden Nasdaq opened highest since March 13, when it hit a record.

The three main indexes were rising for the second consecutive session after Friday’s data showed jobs and wage growth for May beat expectations, with unemployment rate falling to an 18-year low.

“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 11:20 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 180.62 points, or 0.73 percent, at 24,815.83, the S&P 500 was up 7.51 points, or 0.27 percent, at 2,742.13 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 21.15 points, or 0.28 percent, at 7,575.49.

Ten of the 11 main S&P indexes were trading higher.

Boeing rose 1.3 percent, the biggest boost to the Dow, after the planemaker said it would partner with French aerospace firm Safran SA to make and service aircraft parts.

Nektar Therapeutics slumped 39.7 percent after mixed results from its experimental cancer drug with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo disappointed investors and weighed heavily on the S&P healthcare index. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s was 5.8 percent lower.

Merck gained about 1.9 percent after latest data showed its cancer drug Keytruda improved survival as a stand-alone treatment for a type of lung cancer.

Among other stocks, Facebook fell 0.5 percent on a New York Times report that claimed the company had allowed Apple and other major device makers “deep” access to users’ personal data.

Whirlpool rose 2.4 percent after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to “buy”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.27-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.04-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 37 new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 152 new highs and 28 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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