June 19, 2020 / 3:56 PM / 18 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street climbs on upbeat economic outlook

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* S&P 500, Dow set for fourth weekly rise in five

* AMC jumps on further reopening plans

* Energy stocks jump on signs of improving oil demand

* Indexes up: Dow 0.59%, S&P 0.61%, Nasdaq 0.83% (Adds details, comment; Updates prices)

By Medha Singh and Devik Jain

June 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Friday with the tech-heavy Nasdaq hovering near a fresh record high on hopes of a rebound in business activity from a virus-driven downturn, with investors looking past new COVID-19 cases in several U.S. states.

The Nasdaq opened above its all-time closing high on June 10, lifted by shares of the largest U.S. companies by market capitalization, Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

Still, the index, which is rising for the seventeenth time in 20 sessions was a touch away from a new intraday record.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow are about 7% and 11% below their respective record closing highs hit in February.

Oil prices rose above $40 a barrel amid signs of gradual recovery in demand and a promise by oil producers to meet supply cuts, pushing up the S&P energy sector by 1.4%.

“Some investors are using oil prices as a signal with respect to the health of the coming economy,” Mike Zigmont, head of trading & research at Harvest Volatility Management LLC in New York.

Some investors also pointed to a Bloomberg report here, that said China plans to accelerate the purchase of U.S. farm goods to comply with the Phase 1 trade deal, as a reason for the strength in U.S. stocks.

Risk of a resurgence of the virus outbreak prompting another round of restrictive measures led to choppy trading sessions this week. However, the S&P 500 and the Dow are headed for their fourth weekly rise in five following a strong retail sales report and signs of additional official stimulus.

California, Florida and North Carolina urged mandatory mask use on Thursday as at least six U.S. states set daily records for new coronavirus cases.

Trading volume is expected to spike, especially during the opening and close of Friday’s session on account of “quadruple witching,” as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to expiration.

“I would expect some of these morning gains to get worked off ... I don’t think investors are going to be as confident staying long over the weekend as they were two weeks ago,” Zigmont said.

At 11:26 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 154.52 points, or 0.59%, at 26,234.62, the S&P 500 was up 19.04 points, or 0.61%, at 3,134.38. The Nasdaq Composite was up 83.02 points, or 0.83%, at 10,026.07.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc jumped 5.6% on plans to reopen theaters at about 450 locations in the United States next month and the company expects to return to full-seating capacity around Thanksgiving.

Later in the day, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will participate in a video conference where he will talk about ways to help the workforce better withstand and recover from shocks related to the pandemic.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.57-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.37-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 18 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 111 new highs and one new low. (Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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