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US STOCKS-Futures cheered by lifting of virus-related curbs

Medha Singh and Ambar Warrick

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* Futures up: Dow 1.53%, S&P 1.48%, Nasdaq 1.19%

By Medha Singh and Ambar Warrick

May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures surged on Monday with gains spread across stocks ranging from autos to oil as many of the hard-hit countries eased restrictions on business and social activities, boosting hopes of a global economic recovery.

General Motors Co rose 2.3% and Ford Motor Co 1.4% in premarket trading as they prepared to reopen their North American factories in a push to restart work in an industry that accounts for about 6% of U.S. economic activity.

Oil and gas heavyweights Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp rose between 2.5% and 5% after oil prices surged on the prospect of higher demand.

Investors were also encouraged by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's views on a recovery and hints on more monetary stimulus if required. He is slated to appear before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday to discuss how economic rescue efforts are working.

Wall Street's three major indexes closed higher on Friday as investors weighed worries about Sino-U.S. trade relations and weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data against growing optimism that easing coronavirus restrictions would boost activity this month.

However, they posted a weekly loss as uncertainty still persisted over how the world would emerge from the coronavirus. U.S. stock indexes have stuck to a tight range after recovering from multi-year lows hit in March.

At 6:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 360 points, or 1.53%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 42.25 points, or 1.48% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 108.5 points, or 1.19%.

SPDR S&P 500 ETFs were up 1%.

Apple Inc rose 0.5% as the iPhone maker said it would reopen more than 25 of its branded stores in the United States this week. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)