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US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq close at fresh records on AI boost, easing yields

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US manufacturing sector struggling to recover -ISM

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Dell forecasts upbeat fiscal 2025 on AI server demand

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NYCB plunges after loan review disclosure

(Updated at 4:00 p.m. ET/ 2100 GMT)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, March 1 (Reuters) -

U.S. stocks rose on Friday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closing at record highs, as technology stocks rallied on continued enthusiasm for artificial intelligence, while a fall in Treasury yields provided further support.

After closing at a record high on Thursday, the Nasdaq set an intraday record, as AI-related names such as Nvidia and Meta Platforms led it past its prior peak of 16,212.23 set in November 2021.

For February, the three major indexes notched their fourth straight month of gains in a rally largely fueled by growth prospects related to AI, which has also lifted semiconductor names.

On Friday, shares of Nvidia climbed and closed above $2 trillion in market value for the first time. Rival Advanced Micro Devices shares gained to a record high, and the broader Philadelphia semiconductor index jumped to a record.

Markets have drawn support from a resilient economy, as investors have tried to gauge the timing of the first interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve, with investors currently targeting June and growing expectations the central bank can engineer a soft landing for the economy.

"Because the economy is doing well and because inflation remains a bit sticky, the Fed will be slower to lower interest rates," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

"But that's good because then we're gradually coming off of the higher interest rate cycle and we're not in need of cutting rates aggressively."

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 41.16 points, or 0.81%, to end at 5,137.43 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 183.02 points, or 1.14%, to 16,272.22. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90.43 points, or 0.24%, to 39,088.11.

Despite a strong services sector and tight labor market, the economy still shows pockets of weakness, notably in manufacturing, although

data on Friday

included some signs of a possible rebound.

That helped push U.S. Treasury yields lower, with the two-year note yield falling to as low as 4.525%.

Fed Governor Chris Waller said upcoming decisions about the ultimate size of its balance sheet have no bearing on its inflation fight.

Fellow Fed Governor Adriana Kugler said she is

cautiously optimistic

progress will continue on disinflation without a significant weakening of the labor market, and that the central bank has avoided a wage-price spiral. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said it is too soon to predict when the Fed will be able to begin cutting rates.

The S&P 500 tech index was the top performer of the 11 major sectors, while utilities were weakest.

Among major movers, New York Community Bancorp tumbled after the regional lender said it had found "material weaknesses" in internal controls related to its loan review and revised its fourth-quarter loss to 10 times above the previously stated numbers, which helped send the KBW regional banking index lower.

Dell Technologies surged after the personal computer maker forecast annual revenue and profit above Wall Street estimates

Gains on the Dow were curbed in part by a fall in Boeing after a report said the planemaker was in talks to buy supplier Spirit AeroSystems.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)

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