Feb 7 (Reuters) - Wall Street's major stock indexes rose on Wednesday, with the benchmark S&P 500 scaling a record high, as investors applauded overall strength in U.S. earnings and monitored policymaker comments for clues on the interest rate outlook.

Shares in Chipotle Mexican Grill rallied after it topped analyst estimates for quarterly profit and sales on strong demand for its burritos and rice bowls even as prices rose in its report issued late on Tuesday.

Ford shares rose as the automaker increased its first-quarter dividend and decided to scale back investments in new capacity for loss-making electric vehicles.

With more than half of the S&P 500 companies having reported quarterly results, 81.2% surpassed profit expectations, according to LSEG data on Tuesday.

"The optimism around, for the most part, better earnings results, continues to carry the day and continues to keep the market in a positive bias," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 40.61 points, or 0.82%, to end at 4,995.11 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 148.35 points, or 0.95%, to 15,757.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 159.23 points, or 0.41%, to 38,680.59.

The S&P notched a record closing high while the Nasdaq was shy of its record close of 16,057.44 recorded in November 2021.

James noted that investors have been fighting off "negativity overhanging the market" due to concerns about the banking and commercial real estate sectors since last week when New York Community Bancorp reported a surprise loss and cut its dividend.

"Elevated anxiety levels become self-fulfilling," he said, also pointing to volatility among other regional banks. However, the KBW regional bank index turned positive in afternoon trading after falling more than 2% earlier in the session.

New York Community Bancorp shares bounced up in afternoon trading, shaking off an early decline of more than 13%. The lender led by its newly appointed executive chairman Alessandro DiNello, vowed to cut its exposure in the troubled commercial real estate segment, where it suffered loan write-offs.

On Sunday Fed Chair Jerome Powell ruled out a March interest rate cut, and now traders were looking for fresh clues from other Fed officials.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari noted he expects two to three rate cuts this year for now, while Fed Governor Adriana Kugler said more assurance is needed before lowering rates.

Shares in Snap slumped to a two-month low after it missed quarterly revenue estimates, as the Snapchat owner struggled to compete for advertising dollars.

Uber forecast quarterly core profit and gross bookings above estimates. However, its shares struggled to progress during the session as it deferred announcements around capital allocation plans to its investor day on Feb. 14.

Fortinet shares rose after the cybersecurity firm's fourth-quarter profit beat estimates. U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba Group fell on its downbeat quarterly revenue report,

VF Corp shares sank after missing expectations for third-quarter results, with the Vans sneaker maker also announcing CFO Matt Puckett's exit this year.

Enphase Energy shares surged as the solar inverter maker expects inventory levels to normalize and demand for its products to pick up by the end of second quarter. (Reporting by Sinéad Carew in New York, Johann M Cherian and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Shounak Dasgupta and David Gregorio)