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US STOCKS-Google set to prop up Nasdaq after biggest drop in over two months

·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.) 

  * Fed decision on tap 

  * Apple slips on revenue forecast 

  * Alphabet jumps after record earnings 

  * Futures: Dow up 0.01%, S&P up 0.05%, Nasdaq up 0.34% (Adds comment, updates prices) 

  By Sruthi Shankar 

  July 28 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq was set to rise on Wednesday as record quarterly earnings from Google-parent Alphabet helped heavyweight technology stocks steady after their worst sell-off in more than two months in the previous session. 

  Shares of Alphabet Inc jumped 3.6% in premarket trading as a surge in advertising spending boosted its results. Facebook Inc, which competes with Google in web ad sales and is slated to report results late on Wednesday, rose 1.6%. 

  Wall Street's main indexes have scaled record highs this month on hopes of stellar corporate results amid a broader economic recovery, but the pace of gains has slowed recently due to a deepening regulatory crackdown in China and fears of a quicker-than-expected tapering of monetary policy. 

  All eyes on Wednesday will be on the outcome of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, with investors looking for comments on how the double whammy of rising inflation and a spike in COVID-19 cases would impact the central bank's plan to start withdrawing its massive stimulus. 

  "The Fed might taper towards the end of this year, but we expect it to not hike rates at least until the end of 2022," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York. 

  "We think inflation will gradually come down towards the end of this year, but still would remain above the Federal Reserve's target." 

  The June reading of the personal consumption expenditures price index - the Fed's main inflation measure - is due on Friday. 

  Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 0.34% by 8:21 a.m. ET after the broader Nasdaq Composite index posted its biggest daily percentage fall since May 12 on Tuesday. 

  Dow e-minis were up 0.01% and S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.05%. 

  Other technology behemoths posted mixed quarterly results late on Tuesday, with Apple Inc slipping 0.7% after it forecast slowing revenue growth. The stock is still up about 10% this year after jumping 81% in 2020. 

  Microsoft Corp gained 1.1% as a boom in cloud services helped it beat Wall Street expectations for revenue and earnings. 

  "With tech stocks, we are seeing some investors book profits primarily because it seems to be a ripe time considering their strong performance recently, but that doesn't mean there is an issue with the sector, and it is still geared to perform well," Stovall said. 

  In other sectors, Starbucks Corp fell 3.3% after it lowered its fiscal 2021 forecast for China sales growth as COVID-19-related restrictions loomed for longer than expected. 

  Payment company Visa Inc slipped 0.6% despite beating estimates for quarterly profit. 

  As of July 23, analysts expected earnings at S&P 500 firms to have jumped 78.1% in the second quarter, compared with their estimate of 65.4% on July 1. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar, Sagarika Jaisinghani and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V, Aditya Soni) 

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