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US STOCKS-Stimulus hopes set to lift Wall St as jobless claims stay elevated

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* Weekly jobless claims stall at recession levels

* Consumer spending rises 1% in August

* Airlines head higher on coronavirus aid hopes

* Pepsi rises after strong annual profit forecast

* Futures up: Dow 0.68%, S&P 0.82%, Nasdaq 1.42% (Adds comments, updates prices)

Oct 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes were set to jump on the first day of the fourth quarter on Thursday as investors remained hopeful of a new coronavirus fiscal aid package, while data showed weekly jobless claims hovered at recession levels.

The Trump administration has proposed a new stimulus bill to House Democrats worth more than $1.5 trillion that includes a $20 billion extension in aid for the battered airline industry, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Wednesday.

Shares of American Airlines Group Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc, United Airlines Holdings Inc and JetBlue Airways Corp rose between 1.5% and 3.3% in premarket trading.

“Today it’s all about the stimulus being passed or not,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

Optimism around more fiscal support and a slate of better-than-expected data helped Wall Street’s main indexes jump on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 clocking its best two-quarter gain since 2009.

But with the presidential election less than five weeks away and the domestic economy still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts have warned of higher volatility over the next few weeks.

“Volatility is going to come back in a big way, as opposed to the second quarter, when we were able to just forget everything and pile money into the market and move on,” Forrest said.

Data on Thursday showed consumer spending rose a better-than-expected 1.0% in August.

A separate report showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to 837,000 in the week ended Sept. 26, but stalled at higher levels, suggesting the labor market rebound was cooling as government spending diminishes.

Focus now turns to September data on the manufacturing sector due at 10 a.m. ET and the Labor Department’s comprehensive jobs report scheduled for release on Friday.

Tech mega-caps including Apple Inc, Nvidia Corp , Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc, which tend to rise at a time of economic uncertainty, added between 1.4% and 2.0%.

At 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 187 points, or 0.68%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 27.5 points, or 0.82%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 161.75 points, or 1.42%.

Boeing Co rose 2.6% a day after Federal Aviation Administration Chief Steve Dickson conducted a 737 MAX test flight, a milestone for the jet to win approval to resume flying after two fatal crashes.

PepsiCo Inc gained 1% after it forecast full-year profit above estimates as consumers bought more of its snacks such as Doritos and Cheetos, while staying indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S.-listed shares of French-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics jumped 6.9% after it saw a sharp rise in automotive and microcontrollers demand in the third quarter, setting it on course to top its 2020 forecast.

Shares of Solid Biosciences Inc more than doubled in value as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted a clinical halt placed on a trial of its experimental gene therapy for a muscle-wasting disorder.

Reporting by Devik Jain and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur

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