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US STOCKS-Wall Street extends rally, S&P, Nasdaq on course for record closing highs

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·3-min read
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(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Social media stocks rally after upbeat results

* AmEx jumps on blowout Q2 profit

* Intel sales forecast implies rocky second half

* Indexes up: Dow 0.68%, S&P 1.00%, Nasdaq 0.99% (Updates to late afternoon, changes dateline, timeline)

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK, July 23 (Reuters) - Wall Street rallied for the fourth consecutive session on Friday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on track for record closing highs as upbeat earnings put investors in a buying mood.

All three major U.S. stock indexes were positioned to notch weekly gains.

Investor favor has seesawed between growth and value for much of the week as market participants weighed spiking infections of the COVID-19 Delta variant against strong corporate results and signs of economic revival.

"We’re going for a fourth consecutive up day after the Delta scare earlier in the week," said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta.

"The U.S. still looks like the best house on the block when you look around the world, even though there are concerns about inflation and labor," Sroka added. "We’ve seen some increase in cases in COVID, it hasn’t been enough to give people too much pause in the market."

Market participants now look toward next week the Federal Reserve's two-day monetary policy meeting and a series of high-profile earnings.

The Fed's statement will be parsed for clues regarding the timeframe for tightening its accommodative policies, although Chairman Jerome Powell has repeatedly said the economy still needs the central bank's full support.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 235.13 points, or 0.68%, to 35,058.48, the S&P 500 gained 43.78 points, or 1.00%, to 4,411.26 and the Nasdaq Composite added 145.96 points, or 0.99%, to 14,830.56.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but energy were green, with communications services enjoying the largest percentage gain.

Second-quarter reporting season is running at full-throttle, with 120 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 88% have beaten consensus, according to Refinitiv.

Analysts now expect aggregate year-on-year S&P 500 earnings growth of 78.1% for the April to June period, a sizeable increase from the 54% annual growth seen at the beginning of the quarter.

Chipmaker Intel Corp said late Thursday that it still faces supply constraints and provided disappointing guidance. Its stock fell 6.3%.

American Express Co jumped 1.7% after posting second-quarter profit that handily beat expectations on the strength of a global recovery in consumer spending.

Social media firms Twitter Inc and Snap Inc gained 3.8% and 24.5%, respectively, on the back of their upbeat results.

Those reports bode well for Facebook Inc, which is due to post second-quarter results next week. Its stock gained 6.1%.

Other high-profile earnings expected next week include Tesla Inc, Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com.

Industrials Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Ford Motor Co, General Dynamics Corp, 3M Co Caterpillar Inc, Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp, along with a host of healthcare, consumer goods and others, are also on deck.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.52-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.16-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 81 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 78 new highs and 126 new lows. (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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