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US STOCKS-Financials lift S&P 500, Dow despite record U.S. virus cases

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* Nasdaq eases from record closing high

* Carnival rises on plan to resume trips in phases

* Netflix rises after Goldman Sachs PT raise

* Dow up 0.63%, S&P rises 0.27%, Nasdaq fell 0.13% (Adds quote, details; updates prices)

July 10 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Dow rose in choppy trading on Friday, boosted by financial stocks but the sentiment was fragile as a record rise in coronavirus cases in the United States threatened to further damage Corporate America.

Technology stocks weakened, dragging the Nasdaq from its third record closing high this week.

The United States registered the largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 infections globally for the second day in a row on Thursday. About 41 of the 50 U.S. states have reported an increase in cases over the last two weeks that has forced Americans to take new precautions, with several states backpedaling on reopening plans.

“Investors are still trying to weigh the optimism that we have seen since the March 23 lows based on generally better-than-expected economic reports and the belief that the second quarter earnings will be the trough for this earnings recession,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

“But the wildcard seems to be the pickup in corona cases, not just in one location but essentially across the country.”

A slate of economic data, including a record monthly payrolls addition, has pointed to a revival in business activity in June, fueling the U.S. stock market’s stimulus-driven rally.

The S&P 500 has risen more than 40% from its March lows and stands about 8% below its record high hit in February.

A bright spot was data showing Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir significantly improved clinical recovery and reduced the risk of death in COVID-19 patients in a late-stage study. Gilead’s shares rose 2.5%.

Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs rose between 2.7% and 3.4% ahead of their financial results next week, which would mark the onset of the second-quarter earnings season.

Overall profits for S&P 500 firms are expected to plunge the most since the financial crisis, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

“With the earnings expectations so low, investors are of the mindset that they will more likely be exceeded rather than fall even further,” said Stovall.

At 11:30 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 163.16 points, or 0.63%, at 25,869.25 and the S&P 500 was up 8.40 points, or 0.27%, at 3,160.45. The Nasdaq Composite was down 14.12 points, or 0.13%, at 10,533.63.

Carnival Corp jumped 9.4% after the cruise line operator said it was planning to resume operations in a phased manner and would operate with a smaller fleet on its return.

Netflix Inc rose 3.6% after Goldman Sachs hiked its price target on the video streaming service’s shares.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.09-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 13 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 58 new highs and 16 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh and C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Maju Samuel)

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