Gains in technology stocks help Nasdaq touch record high

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The Nasdaq touched a record intraday high on Wednesday, helped by gains in technology shares, while the S&P 500 index and the Dow were little changed.

The technology index rose 0.2 per cent and hovered near its highest level since 2000, after Facebook hit a record high on a Morgan Stanley upgrade.

Western Digital jumped 9 per cent and was among the top percentage gainers on the S&P and the Nasdaq after the company raised its profit forecast for the first quarter.

The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its Beige Book - a summary of commentary on economic conditions - later in the day that will be parsed by investors for rate-hike clues. "We've had three to four pieces of relatively disappointing economic data, so that puts some focus on today's Beige Book,"said Art Hogan, managing director of Wunderlich Equity Capital Markets.

The markets are going to be in a wait-and-see mode until the Fed comes to some consensus of a rate hike in December, Mr Hogan said.

Traders have priced in a 15 per cent chance of a hike in September and a 45.7 per cent chance in December, according the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

The dollar index was trading flat on Wednesday after falling more than 1 per cent a day before. Oil prices also rose about 0.45 per cent.

At 9:45 a.m. EDT (9:45 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 9.38 points, or 0.05 percent, at 18,528.74, the S&P 500 was down 0.45 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 2,186.03 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 4.43 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 5,280.33.

Six of the 10 major S&P 500 indexes were lower, with the consumer staples sector falling the most by 0.68 per cent. The typically defensive sector has risen 7.8 per cent this year.

Apple shares were up 0.19 per cent at US$107.89. The biggest company by market value is expected to unveil the new iPhone 7 later on Wednesday.