US economy keeps looking better despite a surprise drop in consumers confidence

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday boosted by tech shares, with the S&P 500 and Dow industrials closing at records, while the energy sector was once more the largest weight on the market as crude prices continued to flirt with multi-year lows.

Hewlett-Packard, Apple and chipmakers were among the largest advancers, with the PHLX semiconductor index closing up 2.1 percent to its highest since June 2001. Analog Devices jumped 5.5 percent to $54.56, leading the sector a day after posting results.

Hewlett-Packard rose 4.1 percent to $39.16 the day after reporting fourth-quarter earnings.

Trading was relatively light, with 4.8 billion shares changing hands compared to the daily average this month of about 6.3 billion. The stock market will be closed on Thursday, while Friday will be a half-day session with the close at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT).

U.S. consumer spending rose modestly in October and a measure of business spending plans fell for a second straight month, but consumer confidence was near a 7-1/2-year high suggesting the economy remains resilient in the face of faltering global demand.

"On balance, data was still supportive of reasonable strength in the economy," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois.

He said the optimism on holiday shopping was a reason behind gains in chipmakers. "PC sales have been a drag and there may be some hope we see a pick-up."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12.81 points, or 0.07 percent, to 17,827.75, the S&P 500 gained 5.8 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,072.83 and the Nasdaq Composite added 29.07 points, or 0.61 percent, to 4,787.32.

The S&P's energy sector fell 1.1 percent, taking the declines in the past three sessions to 3.4 percent. Crude prices fell as after OPEC increased signals that it would hold off making any major production cuts this week.

U.S.-traded Seadrill shares tumbled 22.8 percent to $15.99 after it stopped dividend payments to help it weather a slump in offshore drilling rig market rates.

Apple led S&P 500 gains, closing up 1.2 percent at $119 per share. Seven of the top 10 points gainers in the index on Wednesday were in the tech sector.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 1,903 to 1,159, for a 1.64-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,644 issues rose and 1,047 fell for a 1.57-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 54 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 104 new highs and 35 new lows.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski)