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US STOCKS-Dow, S&P gain in choppy trade, U.S. election in focus

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

* Clorox rises after strongest sales growth in 2 decades

* Tech mega-caps bounce from steep selloff on Friday

* Dow up 1.35%, S&P 500 up 0.83%, Nasdaq down 0.25% (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments to mid-afternoon; changes byline and adds NEW YORK dateline)

NEW YORK, Nov 2 (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P advanced on Monday while the Nasdaq dipped on the eve of the U.S. presidential election, as investors braced for what could be big market swings after all three indexes notched their biggest weekly decline since March.

Market participants largely expected short-term volatility and the likelihood of major long-term policy shifts related to taxes, government spending, trade and regulation depending on whether Republican President Donald Trump or his Democratic challenger Joe Biden wins the White House race.

Biden is ahead in national opinion polls, but races are tight in battleground states that could tip the election to Trump. Analysts said the outcome most likely to shake equity markets in the near term would be no immediate winner on Tuesday night.

While the Dow and S&P remained on the plus side, they were well off session highs, and the Nasdaq dipped into the red as mega-cap technology and tech-related names continued their slump from the prior week.

Growth stocks shed 0.07%, while the beaten-down value names, which tend to outperform coming out of a recession, rose 1.72%.

“If it feels like it is moving more to value and growth is taking a little bit more of a hit, it is telling you the market still expects a Biden win. It doesn’t expect a complete Democratic sweep but it does expect a Biden win,” said Ken Polcari, chief market strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in Jupiter, Florida.

Investors betting on a Biden administration, which is expected to deliver a massive fiscal stimulus and promote green energy, have fueled a rally in solar stocks, industrials and small-cap names in recent weeks.

On the other hand, JP Morgan has listed Bank of America , Wells Fargo and Citigroup in its “Trump basket” of stocks. The S&P banks index added 2.41%.

Energy, materials and industrials enjoyed the sharpest percentage gains among major S&P sectors.

The S&P 500 ended a turbulent week at near six-week lows on Friday, after quarterly reports from technology mega-caps failed to impress and as coronavirus cases surged in the United States and Europe. The weekly percentage drop was the largest since late March, marking the end of a selloff that sent the benchmark index into a bear market, or drop of more than 20% from a high.

The CBOE volatility index, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, inched lower on Monday after ratcheting up to near four-month highs last week.

Investors will watch this week’s Federal Reserve two-day policy meeting, the monthly jobs report and earnings from about a quarter of the S&P 500 companies.

Clorox Co gained 4.74% after reporting its strongest quarterly sales growth in more than two decades and raising its full-year revenue forecast.

Market research firm Nielsen Holdings Plc gained 3.74% on plans to sell its consumer goods data unit for $2.7 billion to private equity firm Advent International.

The S&P airlines index fell 1.65%, while cruise operators Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd shed 1.39% and 3.27% respectively, reflecting fears over a relentless surge in COVID-19 cases.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.17-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.61-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 6 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 19 new highs and 45 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by David Gregorio)

Nuestros Estándares: Los principios Thomson Reuters.

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