U.S. stocks rose Wednesday as brokerages raised their price targets on Apple Computer Inc., helping the Nasdaq to its seventh straight gain, and money management firms gained on analysts' positive comments.

The Dow and S&P 500 indexes have closed up for six of the seven trading days in 2006. Nasdaq's winning streak is the longest since November, and it posted its highest close in nearly 5 years.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 31.86 points, or 0.29 percent, at 11,043.44. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 4.49 points, or 0.35 percent, at 1,294.18. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.04 points, or 0.48 percent, at 2,331.36.

The Dow is up 3 percent so far this year, while the Nasdaq is up 5.7 percent and the S&P is up 3.7 percent.

Apple shares hit a record high of $84.80 after Banc of America Securities raised its price target to $87 from $78 on estimates for higher sales of the iPod music player.

UBS raised its price target on Apple (AAPL) to $100 from $86. Apple shares gained 3.8 percent to end at $83.90.

"Tech is once again leading the market; there's definitely money flowing into the sector," said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. equity group at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management. "There's the belief that the corporate spending cycle is going to pick some steam."

Shares of brokerages and money managers, such as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. , Bear Stearns Cos. and Legg Mason Inc. hit all-time highs, also helped by optimism about the Dow hitting 11,000.

Momentum in shares of stock brokerages, insurers and banks has been building since the start of the year on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve would soon wrap up its 18-month campaign of raising interest rates.

"It's the impression that the series of interest rate rises are nearer the end than the beginning, and people were bored after last year with the market flat on the year," Mike Driscoll, Bear Stearns listed trader and and managing director, said.

Lehman rose 2.3 percent to $134.65 on the New York Stock Exchange, above its previous all-time high of $133.16. Legg Mason gained 2.9 percent to $130.40, above its lifetime high of $127.

Bear Stearns' stock also was up 1.7 percent, or $2.07, at $121.31, above its previous high of $119.40.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard Co. hit their highest since May 2001 after Prudential Equity Group raised its rating on the world's No. 2 computer maker. The stock rose 1.8 percent, or 56 cents, to end at $31.34 on the Nasdaq, after trading as high as $31.37. Limiting gains on the Dow was a profit warning by chemical maker DuPont Co.

DuPont (DD) is the second Dow company this week to raise concerns about the latest earnings season after Alcoa Inc. reported lower-than-expected profit Monday.

Shares of DuPont slid 3.3 percent, or $1.41, to $41.14 on the NYSE.

A source said Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is weighing a higher takeover offer for medical-device maker Guidant Corp. (GDT) in a move to thwart a $25 billion bid from rival suitor Boston Scientific Corp..

Johnson & Johnson shares fell nearly 1 percent, or 60 cents, to $62.50 on the NYSE. Guidant rose 1.5 percent to $70.44 while Boston Scientific fell 4 percent, or $1.07, to $25.41.

Mortgage company shares gained after a report that U.S. home mortgage applications rose last week for the first time in five weeks and Countrywide Financial Corp., the largest U.S. home loan provider, reported higher December home loan volume. Countrywide shares rose 4.3 percent, or $1.51, to end at $37.04 on the NYSE.

Shares of chip maker Broadcom Corp. rose 5.1 percent, or $2.86, to $58.59 on Nasdaq after UBS raised its rating on the stock.

Volume was heavy, with about 1.75 billion shares changing hands on the NYSE, above last year's daily average of 1.61 billion. On Nasdaq, about 2.4 billion shares were traded.

Gainers outnumber decliners by about 9 to 7 on the NYSE, and by about 8 to 7 on the Nasdaq.