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

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* Deere results boost S&P industrials index

* Apple rises for fourth day in a row

* U.S. existing home sales hit 14-year high in July

* U.S. business activity surges to early 2019 levels

* Indexes up: Dow 0.30%, S&P 0.11%, Nasdaq 0.32% (Updates to early afternoon)

Aug 21 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes inched higher on Friday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq on track for another record close, as the latest data pointed to some pockets of strength in the U.S. economy.

Business activity snapped back to the highest since early 2019 in the United States in August, according to IHS Markit surveys, as companies in both manufacturing and services sectors saw a resurgence in new orders.

Another report showed U.S. home sales rose at a record pace for a second straight month in July and home prices hit all-time highs.

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

Nonetheless, bets on technology-focused companies including Apple Inc and Amazon.com to ride out the economic uncertainty have set the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on track to close out the week higher.

“The uncertainty and choppiness are driving people back to some of the more traditional trades that have stayed immune through the course of the pandemic,” said Mike Stritch, chief investment officer at BMO Wealth Management in Chicago.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 recouped all its losses caused by the coronavirus-driven slump and joined the Nasdaq in scaling new peaks. The Dow is still 6% below its all-time high in February.

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 checks.

“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.

At 12:41 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 83.00 points, or 0.30%, at 27,822.73 and the S&P 500 was up 3.59 points, or 0.11%, at 3,389.10. The Nasdaq Composite was up 35.75 points, or 0.32%, at 11,300.71.

Technology, consumer discretionary and industrials were the only major S&P sectors in positive territory.

Apple Inc gained 4% as its market value continued to swell after the most valuable publicly listed company in the world crossed the $2 trillion milestone this week.

Tesla shares also added another 4.1% after surging past the $2,000 mark on Thursday for the first time and extending its rally ahead of an upcoming share split.

Deere & Co rose 5.4% after the world’s largest farm equipment maker raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.38-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.35-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 19 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 43 new highs and 26 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Anil D’Silva)

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