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US STOCKS-Wall Street ends up sharply, led by gains in tech shares

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

* iShares Silver Trust ETF jumps

* Wall Street's fear gauge eases (Updates to close)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

Feb 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended sharply higher on Monday, led by gains in technology shares after last week's steep market sell-off, while mining shares rose as the retail trading frenzy shifted to silver.

Investors also watched talks over the latest U.S. COVID-19 relief package.

The iShares Silver Trust ETF, the largest silver-backed ETF, jumped as silver broke above $30 an ounce for the first time since 2013, with retail traders jumping into the metal after betting billions of dollars on stocks last week.

Miners Hecla Mining Co, Coeur Mining Inc and Wheaton Precious Metals Corp surged.

"The retail trader focus today seems to be on silver, and it's considered to be a small pocket of the market," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

But even though the recent trading frenzy may have changed course, it has likely not gone away, she said. "The fact of the matter is this is a powerful move in the markets, and it's not just going to dissipate."

The S&P 500 technology sector gave the S&P 500 its biggest boost in the broad rally. Microsoft and Apple were among the biggest positive influences.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 229.92 points, or 0.77%, to 30,212.54, the S&P 500 gained 60.19 points, or 1.62%, to 3,774.43 and the Nasdaq Composite added 330.94 points, or 2.53%, to 13,401.64.

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet 10 moderate Republican senators on Monday to discuss their proposal to shrink his sweeping $1.9 trillion U.S. COVID-19 relief package, even as Democrats prepare to push legislation through Congress without Republican support.

Wall Street's main indexes last week logged their steepest weekly fall since October, as investors digested efficacy data from Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine trial results, and a battle between Wall Street hedge funds and retail investors added to volatility.

The CBOE volatility index eased on Monday from three-month highs that were fueled by a surge in shares of GameStop Corp, AMC Entertainment Holdings and others that burned hedge funds that had bet against the companies.

Robinhood, the U.S. online broker that has emerged as a gateway for amateur traders challenging Wall Street hedge funds, has held talks with banks about raising $1 billion in debt so it can continue to fulfill orders for heavily shorted stocks, according to a Reuters report, citing people familiar with the matter.

Focus also will be on more quarterly earnings reports this week.

The latest ISM survey was mixed as U.S. manufacturing activity slowed slightly in January, while a measure of prices paid by factories for raw materials and other inputs jumped to its highest level in nearly 10 years. (Additional reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Cynthia Osterman)