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US STOCKS-Nike, bank stocks push S&P 500 to new highs

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* Nike surges to record high after strong profit forecast

* FedEx slips after missing 2022 earnings forecast

* Indexes: Dow up 0.63%, S&P adds 0.26%, Nasdaq down 0.03% (Updates to open)

June 25 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 index hit a record high on Friday, boosted by gains in Nike and bank stocks, while weaker-than-expected inflation data eased worries about a sudden tapering in stimulus by the Federal Reserve.

Nike Inc surged 14.6% to an all-time high after the sneaker maker forecast fiscal full-year sales ahead of Wall Street estimates, helping the Dow rise 0.63%.

Inflation has been front-and-center of investors’ minds, with latest personal consumption expenditures (PCE) data showing a measure of underlying inflation rose less than expected in May. Core PCE rose 3.4% year-over-year, above the Fed’s 2% flexible target.

The data “provided support to the Fed’s argument that inflation is transitory and will help allay fears that we are witnessing runaway inflation,” said Anu Gaggar, senior global investment analyst at Commonwealth Financial Network.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were on track for their best weekly jump in 11 after an agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure deal and reassurances from Fed Chair Jerome Powell calmed nerves following the central bank’s hawkish surprise last week.

The S&P banks index jumped 1.3% after the Fed announced big banks have cleared latest stress test and will no longer face pandemic-era restrictions on buying back stock and paying dividends.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors rose in early trading, with financials and materials among the biggest gainer.

Consumer discretionary, which houses some of the mega-cap tech names such as Tesla Inc and Nike, was the top performer.

At 10:06 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 216.46 points, or 0.63%, at 34,413.28, the S&P 500 was up 10.91 points, or 0.26%, at 4,277.40, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 3.97 points, or 0.03%, at 14,365.74.

FedEx Corp dropped 4.9% after the U.S. delivery firm missed 2022 earnings forecast due to hiring difficulties. Rival United Parcel Service Inc also fell 0.6%.

CarMax Inc jumped 5.8% after the used-car retailer topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue, helped by strong demand as more people opted for personal vehicles over public transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Netflix Inc rose 2.1% after Credit Suisse upgraded the video streaming giant’s shares to “outperform.”

Investors are also girding for probably the biggest trading event of the year, as FTSE Russell reconstitutes its indexes which could reflect a wild trading year marked by the pandemic and a “meme” stock craze.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.83-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.28-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 66 new highs and no new low.

Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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