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US STOCKS-S&P 500 Ends Higher as Investors Eye Stimulus

* Apple approaches $2 trillion market capitalization

* Top Senate Democrat says relief talks progressing

* AIG, Ralph Lauren slide after results disappoint

By Noel Randewich and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

Aug 4 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended higher after a choppy session on Tuesday, lifted by energy stocks but limited by declines in AIG and Microsoft while investors awaited more U.S. government stimulus to fight economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The S&P 500 energy index jumped and was the strongest performer among 11 sectors, while healthcare declined.

Ralph Lauren Corp dropped to its lowest since May after quarterly revenue plunged due to coronavirus-related store closures and a slowdown in global demand for luxury goods.

American International Group Inc tumbled after its quarterly adjusted profit slumped.

Notwithstanding those two reports, about 83% of the 352 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported quarterly results so far have beaten estimates for earnings, according to IBES Refinitiv data.

“Investors are still comfortable that the trajectory of earnings is on the right path and the 2021 outlook has remained intact. All that helps support the market at these levels,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest.

“But there is an underlying level of uncertainty leading to a bit of caution,” Bell added.

Investors are awaiting a major new coronavirus-aid bill, with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer saying talks with the White House were moving in the “right direction.”

A rally in tech-related stocks and trillions of dollars in monetary and fiscal stimulus have lifted the S&P 500 to within about 3% of February’s record high.

Microsoft Corp, which is looking to buy short-video app TikTok’s U.S. operations, fell, weighing on the Nasdaq.

White House officials could not say how the U.S. government would receive a portion of the proceeds from any sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations, one day after President Donald Trump called for a cut of the money.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 166.47 points, or 0.62%, to 26,830.87, the S&P 500 gained 12.14 points, or 0.37%, to 3,306.75 and the Nasdaq Composite added 38.37 points, or 0.35%, to 10,941.17.

Evergy Inc slumped after two sources said the board of the Midwest utility planed to remain independent as bids solicited from prospective merger partners did not offer sufficient value.

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc rose after it raised its annual adjusted sales forecast on demand for its videogame franchises “Grand Theft Auto” and “NBA 2K”.

Rival Activision Blizzard Inc gained ahead of its results due after the closing bell.

Walt Disney Co, Fox Corp and Wynn Resorts Ltd are also expected to report quarterly results later in the day.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Tom Brown)

Source: Reuters

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