By Kimberly Chin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Monday afternoon, led by gains in technology stocks as investors were optimistic ahead of earnings.

The S&P 500 technology index <.SPLRCT> was up 1 percent, followed by a 0.8 percent gain in the materials index <.SPLRCM>.

Technology is expected to have had among the strongest earnings growth for the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.


Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey, said investors may be putting money into technology after the group's recent pullback.

"New money is coming into the market. We typically have new money coming in at the start of a new quarter, and you've already had a pullback in tech," she said.

U.S. companies have begun to report on the second quarter, with reports due this week from big U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase <JPM.N>, Wells Fargo <WFC.N> and Citigroup <C.N>.

In a significant victory for the banking industry, the Federal Reserve late last month approved plans from the 34 largest U.S. banks to use extra capital for stock buybacks, dividends and other purposes.

The healthcare sector <.SPXHC> was down 0.2 percent as investors waited for clarity on the healthcare legislation overhaul proposed in Washington.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 10.24 points, or 0.05 percent, to 21,424.58, the S&P 500 <.SPX> had gained 4.83 points, or 0.20 percent, to 2,430.01 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> had added 30.90 points, or 0.50 percent, to 6,183.98.

The three major indexes are trading close to record-high levels, boosted by strong economic data and robust corporate performance in the first quarter.

Markets closed on a high on Friday after a monthly payrolls report exceeded expectations, giving investors more confidence in the strength of the U.S. economy.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen's semi-annual testimony will be the highlight this week for investors looking for cues on further interest rate hikes. She will testify on Wednesday and Thursday. Inc <AMZN.O> shares rose 2 percent to $998.90 ahead of its popular Prime Day shopping festival. Shares of Best Buy <BBY.N> fell 6 percent to $54.42 on news that Amazon was planning to roll out a Geek Squad competitor.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.19-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.34-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 81 new highs and 69 new lows.

(Reporting by Kimberly Chin in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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