US markets lifted by tech boost

NYSE traders Image copyright Reuters

(Close): Wall Street markets closed mostly higher with the S&P hitting an intra-day record for the seventh time in a month.

The S&P 500 closed 3.54 points higher, or 0.16%, to 2173.60, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq index rose 7.15, or 0.14%, to 5162.13.

The Dow Jones slipped 24.11 points, or 0.13%, to 18432.24.

Gains in the tech sector led by Amazon and Google owner Alphabet outweighed the losses in the energy sector.

Low oil prices and weak refining margins cut second quarter profits at Exxon to $1.7bn from $4.2bn a year earlier. Exxon shares fell 1.4%.

Chevron shares climbed 0.7% despite reporting a second quarter loss $1.47bn, its largest loss since 2001.

Sentiment was also hit by weaker-than-expected US growth data. The US economy grew at an annual pace of 1.2% in the second quarter of the year, and the growth estimate for the first quarter was also revised down.

The dip has fuelled the belief that the US Federal Reserve might once again hold off on increasing interest rates when it meets in September.

"Investors are still willing to play chicken with the Fed, thus the S&P 500 has hit a new intraday all-time high," said Sam Stovall, US equity strategist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Online retailer Amazon and Alphabet were the Nasdaq's big winners after both reported strong earnings late on Thursday.

Alphabet shares rose nearly 3% after it reported second-quarter profits of $4.9bn, up from $3.9bn a year earlier.

Amazon's second quarter revenues rose 31% from last year to $30.4bn, and its shares were 0.9% higher.

Shares in Ford fell 0.4% one day after the carmaker missed earnings expectations. Quarterly profit fell by 9% compared to last year. Ford also warned that the UK's decision to leave the European Union could have long term effects on its bottom line.

United Parcel Service reported a 6% jump in profit off the back of international growth and higher delivery volume, but shares slipped 0.6%.