* Apple nearly unchanged after strong quarterly results
* Communication services leads gains among S&P 500 sectors
* U.S. economy accelerates in Q1; jobless claims edge lower (Updates with close of trading)
April 29 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday, fueled by gains in Facebook following its strong earnings report, while investors awaited upcoming results from Amazon.
Facebook Inc surged to an intra-day all-time high after beating market expectations for quarterly revenue and profit late on Wednesday, helped by a surge in digital ad spending during the pandemic and higher ad prices.
Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors rose, with the communication services index leading the way, boosted by Facebook and Alphabet.
Apple Inc was nearly unchanged after late on Wednesday posting sales and profit ahead of Wall Street estimates on strong iPhone and Mac sales.
Amazon was scheduled to post its quarterly report after the bell, with investors looking for signs of how the online retailer will be affected as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Investors are really looking for significantly outsized results, and also outsized guidance as they look ahead to upcoming quarters,” said Greg Bassuk, chief executive of AXS Investments. “We believe a lot of optimism has already been baked into the market, and we are cautioning investors to expect significant volatility.”
Of the 265 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, 87% have topped analysts’ earnings estimates, with Refinitiv IBES data now predicting a 45% jump in profit growth.
U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fueled by massive government aid to households and businesses, while a labor market report showed 553,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week, compared with 566,000 in the prior period.
Caterpillar Inc dipped after it reported higher quarterly earnings but warned of supply-chain bottlenecks.
Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc slid after posting a drop in quarterly profit.
McDonald’s rose after the burger chain beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly comparable sales and said it returned to pre-pandemic levels of growth.
Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.71% to end at 34,059.42 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.64% to 4,210.02.
The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.19% to 14,077.78.
Twitter Inc and Gilead Sciences Inc dipped ahead of their quarterly reports after the market closes. (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy)