By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) -- Big tech and energy sector gains drove U.S. stocks higher on Tuesday, as an index of 100 major Nasdaq companies finished at a record closing high.

The three major indexes continued a positive start for November, after posting their best monthly performances in four years in October. The Nasdaq 100 index closed up 0.3 percent at 4,719.05, surpassing for the first time levels reached during the dot-com boom in 2000.

The S&P energy sector rose 2.5 percent, its fifth straight daily increase, as crude prices rallied. Oil majors Exxon and Chevron rose 1.8 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, making both stocks among the top influences on the Dow and S&P.

While energy stocks have risen about 22 percent since late August, the sector is still down roughly 10 percent year to date.

"People are looking for beaten down names in industries that may represent value," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York. "Towards the end of the year, the market starts to move up and people are fearful they're going to be left behind."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 89.39 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,918.15, the S&P 500 gained 5.74 points, or 0.27 percent, to 2,109.79 and the Nasdaq Composite added 17.98 points, or 0.35 percent, to 5,145.13.

Six of the 10 S&P sector groups ended positive, including a 0.6 percent rise for the tech sector. Apple rose 1.1 percent to $122.57 and Microsoft increased 1.7 percent to $54.15, with both companies the most positive influences on the S&P and Nasdaq.

Activision Blizzard rose 3.6 percent to $35.82 and was the sixth biggest boost on the Nasdaq after the video games company said it would buy "Candy Crush" maker King Digital for $5.9 billion. King soared 14.9 percent to $17.85.

As the third-quarter earnings season winds down, investors will be looking to Friday's employment report and other economic data for clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates in December.

U.S. companies have posted stronger-than-expected quarterly results in general so far this earnings season. As of earlier on Tuesday, of the 379 S&P 500 companies that had reported results, 70 percent beat profit estimates, compared with 63 percent in a typical quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

One exception was insurer AIG, whose shares fell 4.4 percent to $60.96 after the insurer's quarterly profit missed estimates by a wide margin. CEO Peter Hancock said Carl Icahn's proposal to break up the company did not "make financial sense".

Agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland dropped 6.8 percent to $43.15 after missing profit estimates. Altria fell 4.4 percent to $57.85 after a rating cut. The two were the biggest drags on the consumer staples sector.

Sprint fell 7 percent to $4.51 after the wireless carrier reported lower-than-expected results.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,789 to 1,283, for a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,676 issues rose and 1,124 fell for a 1.49-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 20 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 82 new highs and 29 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Sinead Carew and Rodrigo Campos, and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Chizu Nomiyama)