US STOCKS-Nasdaq surges on megacap earnings but fiscal uncertainty lingers


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    * Apple briefly becomes world's most valuable public company
    * Caterpillar among biggest drags on Dow

 (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments
to market close)
    By Chuck Mikolajczak
    NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq jumped more than 1%
on Friday, powered by strong earnings from some of the largest
U.S. companies, but the Dow and S&P finished with smaller gains
as uncertainty about the government's next round of coronavirus
aid kept economic worries on the radar.
    Apple Inc  AAPL.O  shares surged to reach a high in the wake
of blowout quarterly results and a four-for-one stock split
announcement.*:nL2N2F12LV Inc  AMZN.O  gained after posting its biggest
profit ever while Facebook jumped after the social media
platform blew past revenue expectations.*:nL3N2F15PH*:nL3N2F15P5
    Google parent Alphabet Inc  GOOGL.O  fell though, one of the
biggest drags on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, as it posted the first
quarterly sales dip in its 16 years as a public company.*:nL3N2F15PZ
    "The results were just fabulous, just so strong," said Tim
Ghriskey, Chief Investment Strategist at Inverness Counsel in
New York. "These are extremely profitable companies and they
produce products that people want."   
    The four companies are among the top five in market
capitalization, representing roughly 20% of the S&P 500's total.
 Apple's gain pushed it ahead of Saudi Aramco  2222.SE  as the
world's most valuable public company, according to Refinitiv
    The White House and Democrats were still negotiating on
coronavirus relief aid, but not yet on a path toward reaching a
deal, according to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, hours before the expiration of a federal unemployment
    "It seems like they are far apart and supposedly they are
working at it and there is a lot of name calling and as usual
there is a lot of bad blood between these two parties and they
have to come to some compromise, clearly, but they are not
there, that’s for sure," said Ghriskey. 
    Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose
121.01 points, or 0.46%, to 26,434.66, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained
25.34 points, or 0.78%, to 3,271.56 and the Nasdaq Composite
 .IXIC  added 157.60 points, or 1.49%, to 10,745.42.    
    It was a choppy session with each major index up and down.
The Dow at one point fell more than 1%. In late trade, stocks
moved higher into the close as Microsoft shares pared losses of
more than 2% after reports the company was said to be in talks
to buy video app TikTok.*:nFWN2F2251
    U.S. deaths from COVID-19 appeared to be rising at their
fastest rate since early June, with the epicenter of the
pandemic apparently shifting to the Midwest.*:nL2N2F10ZB*:nL2N2F214X
    The benchmark index is now about 4% shy of its February
all-time high, but faltering macroeconomic data and rising
COVID-19 cases in the United States are making investors
cautious again.
    Still, the S&P notched its fourth weekly gain in the past
five and fourth straight month of gains, with lift from massive
fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to buttress the U.S.
economy during the pandemic.  
    Energy stocks  .SPNY  were the worst performing among the 11
major S&P sectors after Chevron Corp  CVX.N  reported an $8.3
billion loss on asset writedowns and ExxonMobil Corp  XOM.N 
recorded a second consecutive quarterly loss.*:nL3N2F2432*:nL3N2F23YJ
    Caterpillar Inc  CAT.N  fell after the bellwether for
economic activity offered little signs of improvement in
equipment sales.*:nL2N2F20EO

Apple briefly becomes world's most valuable company
 (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by David Gregorio)
 ((; @ChuckMik; Reuters Messaging:

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