September 30, 2019 / 5:03 PM / 19 days ago

US STOCKS-Apple-led tech rally drives Wall Street higher

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* Three main indexes gain after two straight days of losses

* Apple up on JPM’s iPhone volume forecast raise, Cook’s comments

* Mallinckrodt up on opioid settlement with Ohio counties

* Merck rises after promising data from cancer drug

* Indexes up: Dow 0.60%, S&P 0.71%, Nasdaq 0.75% (Updates to early afternoon)

By Medha Singh

Sept 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher on Monday after the technology sector surged on the back of gains in Apple shares, helping Wall Street’s major indexes recoup most of their losses from the previous session.

Shares of the iPhone maker rose 2.3% as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told a German daily that sales of the newly launched phones were off to a strong start, while JP Morgan raised its forecast for shipment volumes. Microsoft Corp climbed 1%.

Cook’s commentary correlates to how the broader U.S. economy is holding up, said Phil Blancato, chief executive officer of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.

The technology sector gained 1.2%, the most among 11 major S&P sectors. Only energy stocks were trading in the red, tracking a fall in oil prices.

Sentiment also got a boost after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro dismissed reports that the Trump administration was considering delisting Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges as “fake news.”

The news had sent the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to a more than three-week low on Friday.

U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Baidu Inc and JD.com Inc were up between 0.8% and 1.7% on Monday.

“This idea of using different types of levers that impact trade negotiations is something that we will get accustomed to,” Ladenburg’s Blancato said.

The next round of high-stakes trade talks between two of the world’s largest economies are scheduled for October.

The main indexes are on course to end the third quarter with their worst performance so far this year, rattled by a host of factors including an escalation in U.S-China trade tensions, the inversion of an important part of the U.S. yield curve and political turmoil in Washington.

Click here to view the interactive graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2n5vkTu

At 12:29 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 162.02 points, or 0.60%, at 26,982.27, the S&P 500 was up 20.93 points, or 0.71%, at 2,982.72. The Nasdaq Composite was up 59.50 points, or 0.75%, at 7,999.13.

Merck & Co gained 2.1% as it presented promising data for its Lynparza cancer drug, which it develops in partnership with Britain’s AstraZeneca. Its shares helped the healthcare sector gain 1.3%.

Newell Brands jumped 6.3% after SunTrust Robinson Humphrey upgraded the household goods maker to “buy”.

The focus this week will be on economic reports, including a key jobs report and the September ISM purchasing managers index (PMI). August’s PMI data showed a contraction in the manufacturing sector.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.59-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.27-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 16 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 17 new highs and 102 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Anil D'Silva

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