March 20, 2020 / 3:14 PM / 12 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street advances at end of blistering week

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* All three main indexes rise more than 1%

* Battered airline stocks rebound

* Technology stocks prop up Nasdaq

* Indexes up: Dow 1.32%, S&P 1.02%, Nasdaq 2.10% (Updates to open)

By Medha Singh

March 20 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main stock indexes rose more than 1% on Friday, as dramatic intervention by U.S. policymakers halted the worst monthly selloff in U.S. equities in three decades.

The measures unleashed by the White House and the central bank have injected a note of optimism in the markets, after weeks of steep declines that ended a record 11-year bull run.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped more than 2%, propped up by heavyweights Microsoft, Amazon and Apple , while airlines gained 4.5% after losing more than half their value since late-February.

Investors are counting on further easing in the next few days, as the Senate mulls a $1 trillion package that would include direct financial help for Americans.

“It’s the effect of both central banks and governments signaling that they’re willing to do whatever it takes,” said Teeuwe Mevissen, senior market economist at Rabobank.

“But in general, I don’t think these movements signal that the worst is over and that we are going to get back to normal anytime soon.”

Fears over the severity of the outbreak have wiped off nearly 30% - or more than $8 trillion - from the value of the benchmark S&P index since its record closing high on Feb. 19, as the rapid spread of COVID-19 shuts down large cities and upends business activity.

California became the latest U.S. state to issue an unprecedented statewide “stay at home” order as the number of coronavirus deaths in the country hit 200.

A Reuters poll of economists suggested the global economy was already in recession.

AT&T tumbled 4.1% as the wireless carrier warned the virus might have a material impact on financial results and canceled a $4 billion share repurchase agreement.

At 10:31 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 264.57 points, or 1.32%, at 20,351.76, the S&P 500 was up 24.68 points, or 1.02%, at 2,434.07. The Nasdaq Composite was up 150.03 points, or 2.10%, at 7,300.60.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading higher, with technology and consumer discretionary stocks leading gains.

Energy sector advanced 3%, rebounding from the lowest levels in nearly two decades, even as oil prices weakened.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners more than 2-to-1 on the NYSE and the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and 31 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded three new highs and 57 new lows.

Markets also face a “quadruple witching” on Friday, where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before their expiration. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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