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US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq set to wrap up best week since U.S. elections

· 02/05/2021 12:05
US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq set to wrap up best week since U.S. elections

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J&J files COVID-19 vaccine application with the FDA

Nonfarm payrolls increase by 49,000 in January

Activision jumps as revenue forecast ahead of estimates

Indexes up: Dow and S&P 0.35%, Nasdaq 0.25%

Adds comment, details; updates prices

By Medha Singh and Devik Jain

- U.S. stocks rose on Friday with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting record highs as a smaller-than-expected rebound in the labor market last month highlighted the need for more government aid to shore up the economy.

Stimulus talks, upbeat earnings and progress in vaccine rollouts have bolstered bets of a speedy economic recovery, setting the S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq .IXIC on track for their best week since the U.S. elections in early November.

The Labor Department's data showed job losses in manufacturing and construction, the two sectors that have been propping up the economy. Job losses in December were also deeper than initially thought. nL1N2KA34D

President Joe Biden's drive to enact a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill gained momentum on Friday with the U.S. House of Representatives set to vote on a budget plan that would allow the passage of the legislation in coming weeks without Republican support. nL1N2KB0TS

"Today's payrolls number gives further momentum behind a large stimulus package ... on top of that you have equity earnings which continue to get revised up for the fourth quarter," said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist and portfolio manager at BMO Global Asset Management in Chicago.

Adams said the asset manager was "overweight" on equities, with a bias toward U.S. small-caps and emerging market stocks.

Economy-linked materials .SPLRCM and energy .SPNY led gains among major S&P sectors. The small-cap Russell 2000 index .RUT, sensitive to the domestic economic outlook, jumped 1%.

The tech sector .SPLRCT slipped 0.4% after hitting a record high earlier in the session.

At 11:34 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 107.23 points, or 0.35%, to 31,164.21, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 13.55 points, or 0.35%, to 3,885.29 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 34.08 points, or 0.25%, to 13,812.88.

Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N rose 1.6% after the drugmaker said it had asked U.S. health regulators to authorize its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. nL1N2KA3CR

Shares of GameStop, caught in the recent social media-hyped trading frenzy, jumped about 30% again on Friday, after online broker Robinhood lifted all the buying curbs imposed at the height of the battle between amateur investors and Wall Street hedge funds. nL4N2KB3F0

Stronger-than-expected corporate results so far in the fourth quarter have driven up analysts' expectations, and S&P 500 companies are now on track to post earnings growth of 2.4% for the quarter instead of a decline as initially expected. nL1N2K924P

Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI.O jumped about 9.2% after the company forecast full-year adjusted revenue above analysts' estimates, driven by strong demand for the latest installment of its blockbuster "Call of Duty" franchise. nL4N2KA4MG

Chamath Palihapitiya-backed Clover Health Investments Corp CLOV.O said it had received a letter from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission following a critical report published by noted short-selling specialist Hindenburg Research. nL4N2KB36L

Clover's shares dropped about 1.8%, extending losses from the previous session's 12% plunge.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.7-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.8-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 32 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 389 new highs and 16 new lows.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

((Devik.Jain@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2062; ;))