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US STOCKS-Wall Street inches higher after upbeat U.S. business surveys

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* Deere & Co up after raising earnings target

* Apple rises for the fourth day in a row

* Indexes up: Dow 0.24%, S&P 0.09%, Nasdaq 0.06% (Updates to market open)

Aug 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes eked out gains on Friday, supported by Apple’s shares, while data showing business activity snapped back to the highest since early 2019 also lifted the sentiment.

Data firm IHS Markit said its flash U.S. Composite PMI Index rose to a reading of 54.7 this month from 50.3 in July as companies in both the manufacturing and services sectors saw a resurgence in new orders.

The unexpectedly sharp increases in Markit’s indexes continue a pattern of choppy U.S. economic data that paint a picture of a fitful recovery from the COVID-19 recession.

On Thursday, the Labor Department’s report showed weekly jobless claims shot back above 1 million mark last week. However, investors’ bet on technology-focused companies including Apple Inc and Amazon.com to ride out the pandemic helped the three main indexes close higher in the previous session.

Earlier this week, the S&P 500 clinched a record high, recouping the last of its losses caused by the coronavirus-driven slump and joining the Nasdaq in notching new highs.

The Dow still remains about 6% below its peak in February.

“The market will move higher, but it will be very slow and irregular one, at least until there’s a vaccine,” said Chuck Lieberman, chief investment officer at Advisors Capital Management.

“We’re still gradually reopening, and setbacks are on their way. It makes people concerned at times.”

Investors also worry about a stalemate in talks between House Democrats and the White House over the next coronavirus aid bill as about 28 million Americans continued to collect unemployment cheques.

At 10:06 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 65.61 points, or 0.24%, at 27,805.34, the S&P 500 was up 2.98 points, or 0.09%, at 3,388.49. The Nasdaq Composite was up 7.15 points, or 0.06%, at 11,272.10.

Financials, industrials and technology posted the steepest percentage gains among major S&P sectors.

Apple gained another 2%, rising for the fourth straight day.

Deere & Co rose 4.5% after the world’s largest farm equipment maker revised up its full-year earnings forecast.

Tesla’s shares added another 2.1% after surging past the $2,000 mark on Thursday for the first time and extending its rally ahead of an upcoming share split.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.97-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.31-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded eight new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 10 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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