By Sinead Carew
(Reuters) - The Dow and the S&P clung to tiny gains on Tuesday after scaling new records as support from technology stocks offset weakness in the healthcare and materials sectors.
Apple <AAPL.O> pared gains after rising as much as 1.91 percent to an all-time high and provided the biggest boost to all three indexes, while healthcare stocks such as Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N> were the biggest weight on the S&P.
"We're drifting, waiting for something to happen. In the absence of bad news, you're going to stay the same or go a little higher. There's nothing to sell it off," said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.
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Japan said on Tuesday it was possible that North Korea had already developed nuclear warheads and warned of an acute threat posed by its weapons programs as Pyongyang's continues missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
But investors seemed to take the news in their stride.
"That's a foregone conclusion they might have this capability. That they'd actually use it has not been priced in. If we were threatened, the U.S. would take action and there'd be a Treasury rally," said Battle.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 7.32 points, or 0.03 percent, to 22,125.74, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 1.71 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,482.62 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 17.56 points, or 0.28 percent, to 6,401.33.
The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was up 28.11 points, or 0.44 percent, at 6,411.88.
Tuesday's rise puts the Dow on track to post its 11th straight session of gains - the blue-chip index's longest streak since February - driven by a strong quarterly earnings season.
Second-quarter earnings have been stronger than expected with analysts now expecting S&P 500 earnings to have expanded 11.8 percent, up from 8 percent at the start of July, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"But with earnings coming to a close, no major economic data and seasonality issues, trading volume is expected to be slightly diminished," said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Private Client Reserve.
Trading will also be moderated by a lack of legislative news from Washington as the U.S. Congress is in recess until Sept 5.
The S&P hasn't moved more than 0.5 percent in one day since July and has fallen more than 1 percent only twice this year.
Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the leader technology index <.SPLRCT> up 0.4 percent.
The financial sector index <.SPSY> clawed back gains after news California insurance regulator will probe whether Wells Fargo & Co <WFC.N> and an insurance company harmed residents by selling insurance they did not need.
The financial index had risen earlier in the session after the Labor Department said U.S. job openings, a measure of labor demand, jumped to a record high in June to the highest level since December 2000.
Shares of Michael Kors <KORS.N> jumped 22.3 percent, helping to boost the consumer discretionary index <.SPLRCD>, after the luxury goods maker raised its full-year revenue forecast.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.14-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.11-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski)