US STOCKS-Facebook lifts S&P 500 to record high

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* Apple higher after strong quarterly results

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* Communication services leads gains among S&P 500 sectors

* U.S. economy accelerates in Q1; jobless claims edge lower

* Indexes: Dow +0.53%, S&P 500 +0.51%, Nasdaq +0.13% (Updates with afternoon trading)

By Noel Randewich and Shivani Kumaresan

April 29 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 hit an intra-day record high on Thursday, fueled by gains in Facebook following its strong earnings report, while investors awaited upcoming results from Amazon.

Facebook Inc jumped over 6% to an all-time high after beating market expectations for quarterly revenue and profit late on Wednesday, helped by a surge in digital ad spending during the pandemic and higher ad prices.

Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors rose, with the communication services index jumping 2.6%, boosted by Facebook and 1.6% rise in Alphabet.

Apple Inc climbed 0.5% after late on Wednesday posting sales and profit ahead of Wall Street estimates on strong iPhone and Mac sales.

Amazon was up 0.3% ahead of its quarterly report after the bell, with investors looking for signs of how the online retailer will be affected as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Investors are really looking for significantly outsized results, and also outsized guidance as they look ahead to upcoming quarters,” said Greg Bassuk, chief executive of AXS Investments. “We believe a lot of optimism has already been baked into the market, and we are cautioning investors to expect significant volatility.”

Of the 265 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, 87% have topped analysts’ earnings estimates, with Refinitiv IBES data now predicting a 45% jump in profit growth.

U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fueled by massive government aid to households and businesses, while a labor market report showed 553,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week, compared with 566,000 in the prior period.

Caterpillar Inc dipped 3.4% after it reported higher quarterly earnings but warned of supply-chain bottlenecks.

Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc slid 5% after posting a drop in quarterly profit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.53% at 33,999.33 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.51% to 4,204.66.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.13% to 14,068.83.

Twitter Inc and Gilead Sciences Inc were each down more than 1% ahead of their quarterly reports after the market closes.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.43-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 109 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 133 new highs and 21 new lows. (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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