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US STOCKS-Nasdaq eyes record closing high as Powell testimony looms

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

* Powell’s congressional testimony at 2 p.m. ET

* Crypto stocks extend declines

* Sanderson Farms climbs on sale plans

* Indexes up: Dow 0.14%, S&P 0.36%, Nasdaq 0.43% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

June 22 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq was on pace for a record closing high on Tuesday, as investors anticipated Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks for clues on how the central bank is balancing inflation risk with its promise to ensure a full jobs market recovery.

Amazon.com Inc, up 1.3%, was among the top boosts to S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, as it entered the second day of its multibillion-dollar online sales event, Prime Day. The retail giant saw over $5.6 billion in total online sales in the United States on the first day, according to Adobe Digital Economy Index.

In his prepared remarks released late Monday afternoon, Powell reiterated that recent high inflation was expected to prove temporary. The Fed chief is due to speak before Congress at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

“Powell has already put a stamp on where he thinks things should be. I don’t think he’s going to deviate much,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, with consumer discretionary and materials rising the most.

Gains in tech heavyweights including Apple Inc, Amazon.com, Nvidia and Microsoft were among the biggest support for the S&P 500, bringing the benchmark index less than 0.5% of its record high.

Still, energy, financials and other economically sensitive stocks that stand to benefit the most from a U.S. re-opening, have far outpaced the benchmark S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow indexes year-to-date.

“We’re still on the value side of the camp. If inflation persists, we expect the value part of the market to outperform,” Nolte said.

At 11:35 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 48.63 points, or 0.14%, at 33,925.60, the S&P 500 was up 15.28 points, or 0.36%, at 4,240.07, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 61.45 points, or 0.43%, at 14,202.93.

Crypto stocks including miners Riot Blockchain, Marathon Patent Group, Ebang International and MicroStrategy Inc fell between 2% and 5% as Bitcoin slipped below $30,000 for the first time since January, briefly wiping out gains for the year.

Sanderson Farms jumped 10.4% to a record high as J.P. Morgan raised its price target on the stock after a source told Reuters that the chicken producer was exploring a sale.

Moderna Inc rose 4.4% after the European Union decided to take up an option under a supply contract with the drugmaker that allows the bloc to order 150 million additional COVID-19 vaccines.

Splunk Inc gained 12.2% after the data analytics software maker said private equity firm Silver Lake invested $1 billion in company’s convertible senior notes.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.57-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 22 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 46 new highs and 42 new lows.

Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Sujata Rao-Coverley; Editing by Maju Samuel

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