Technology stocks led Wall Street slightly higher on Wednesday after comments from Cisco's chief executive bolstered optimism about the networking giant.

Cisco Systems Inc shares rose 5 percent to $18.10 after CEO John Chambers admitted the one-time technology bellwether and Wall Street darling has lost its way and will need to restore its credibility.

The Dow industrials hit their highest intraday level since 2008, helped by large tech names, while the S&P 500 hovered near a seven-week high.

The PHLX semiconductor index <.SOX> gained 1.3 percent.

Chambers, one of Silicon Valley's most respected executives, suggested Cisco might change operations to narrow the company's focus.

The comments came in a remarkably candid memo to employees circulated on Tuesday.

Elliot Spar, options market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus, said the next critical level for the S&P 500, which is at 1,344, the highest level since June 2008, is still out of reach.

It's been 33 trading days since the peak... Perhaps we have to wander for 40 days, not years, before we get there, he said.

A meaningful breach of that level could lead to a stocks breakout, pushing prices higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 29.59 points, or 0.24 percent, at 12,423.49. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 2.11 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,334.74. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 8.72 points, or 0.31 percent, at 2,799.91.

Stocks also got a lift from the president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, Dennis Lockhart, who said the Fed will complete its $600 billion bond-buying plan as scheduled at the end of June. He said he does not see any reason to end the program early.

The percentage of U.S. stock market bulls rose to the highest level in nearly four months as equities continue to recover from their recent fall, according to a weekly survey of advisers by Investors Intelligence.

Broadcom Corp shares gained 2.9 percent to $39.58 after Oppenheimer raised its rating on the chipmaker's stock and set a price target of $55.

In earnings news, global agribusiness Monsanto Co. said net income jumped about 15 percent in the second quarter on strong sales of corn seed for spring planting and improved profit margins.

But its stock fell 4.9 percent to $69.70 after the world's largest seed company did not raise its full-year outlook.

(Reporting by Angela Moon, Additional reporting by Doris Frankel; Editing by Kenneth Barry)