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US STOCKS-Futures gain as vaccine hopes offset U.S.-China tensions

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* Futures up: Dow 1.03%, S&P 0.84%, Nasdaq 0.51%

July 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday as investors took heart from signs of progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, looking past record daily death rates in some states and brewing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine showed it was safe and provoked immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study, boosting its shares by 13.9% in premarket trading.

American Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd rose between 6% and 6.8%.

Wall Street futures and Asian equity markets had pared some gains earlier in the day after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law, prompting Beijing to warn of retaliatory sanctions.

The three main U.S. stock indexes have recouped most of their losses from the coronavirus-led slump, with a raft of stimulus measures and encouraging economic data lifting the S&P 500 to within 6% of its record high in February.

With the second-quarter earnings season now underway, investors are looking for annual forecasts from marquee companies to gauge the pace of the rebound in Corporate America.

Trading powerhouse Goldman Sachs rose 1% ahead of its quarterly report, a day after JPMorgan Chase & Co beat quarterly profit estimates due to a surge in trading revenue.

But largest U.S. health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc slipped 0.1% even as its second-quarter profit more than doubled.

At 6:19 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 274 points, or 1.03%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 26.75 points, or 0.84% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 54.5 points, or 0.51%.

Apple rose 1.4% after Europe’s second-top court rejected an EU order to the iPhone maker to pay 13 billion euros ($14.78 billion) in Irish back taxes. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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