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US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq post biggest weekly gains since early November

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Caroline Valetkevitch
·3 min read
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(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stockmarkets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* J&J files COVID-19 vaccine application with the FDA

* Nonfarm payrolls increase by 49,000 in January

* Indexes: Dow up 0.3%, S&P 500 up 0.4%, Nasdaq up 0.6%(Updates close with volume, Russell 2000 index gains for week)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks extended their recent rally onFriday and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes scored their biggestweekly percentage gains since the U.S. elections in earlyNovember, boosted by optimism over earnings, stimulus talks andprogress on vaccine rollouts.

Both the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 rose for afifth straight session in their longest streak of gains sinceAugust, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted record closing highsfor a second day in a row.

A smaller-than-expected rebound in the U.S. labor marketlast month highlighted the need for more government aid to shoreup the economy. The Labor Department on Friday reported a 49,000increase in nonfarm payrolls last month, but job losses inmanufacturing and construction.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies inCongress moved ahead with their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 reliefpackage as lawmakers approved a budget plan that will allow themto muscle Biden's plan through in the coming weeks withoutRepublican support.

"The upcoming package of stimulus is going to be big," saidAlan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc, aninvestment advisory firm based in Toledo.

"You have a situation where there's a lot of cash onsidelines and bonds have really underperformed, so that's helpedsome sectors that have really done poorly."

Upbeat earnings this week have also supported investoroptimism. So far, stronger-than-expected corporate results inthe fourth quarter have driven up analysts' expectations, andS&P 500 companies are on track to post earnings growth for theperiod instead of a decline as initially expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 92.38 points,or 0.3%, to 31,148.24, the S&P 500 gained 15.09 points,or 0.39%, at 3,886.83 and the Nasdaq Composite added78.55 points, or 0.57%, at 13,856.30.

For the week, the S&P 500 gained 4.65%, the Nasdaq added6.01% and the Dow increased 3.89%. The small-cap Russell 2000index rose 7.7% for the week, its biggest weeklypercentage gain since the week ended June 5.

The Cboe Volatility index fell and had its biggestweekly point drop since the week ended Nov. 6.

The S&P 500 technology index ended down 0.2% afterhitting a record high earlier in the session.

Johnson & Johnson rose 1.5% after the drugmaker saidit had asked U.S. health regulators to authorize its single-doseCOVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Shares of GameStop Corp, caught in the recent socialmedia-hyped trading frenzy, rose 19.2% on Friday, after onlinebroker Robinhood lifted all the buying curbs imposed at theheight of the battle between amateur investors and Wall Streethedge funds.

Clover Health Investments Corp shares ended up5.7%. It said it would cooperate with a request from the U.S.Securities and Exchange Commission. U.S. regulators arefollowing up on a report about Clover by short-sellingspecialist Hindenburg Research.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a2.33-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.94-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 34 new 52-week highs and no new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 286 new highs and four new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 13.65 billion shares, comparedwith the 15.5 billion average for the full session over the last20 trading days.(Additional reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh inBengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Richard Chang)