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US STOCKS-Apple props up S&P, Nasdaq futures

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* Futures: Dow down 0.03%, S&P up 0.15%, Nasdaq up 0.41%

Dec 22 (Reuters) - Gains for Apple dragged S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures higher on Tuesday, buoyed by signs it was set to push into car production, as investors worried about the threat of a new coronavirus strain uncovered in England.

Shares of Apple Inc, the most valuable company on Wall Street, were up more than 2% in trading before the bell after Reuters reported that the iPhone maker was moving forward with self-driving car technology and was targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle.

Wall Street indexes ended well above intraday lows on Monday as Congress approved a much-awaited $892 billion stimulus package to buffer the economic impact of the coronavirus.

But fears over a new virus strain in Britain have stifled recent gains and are likely to weigh on sentiment going into the holidays.

Trading activity is also expected to be subdued in the last two weeks of the year.

At 6:30 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 10 points, or 0.03%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.5 points, or 0.15% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 51.75 points, or 0.41%.

Increased liquidity measures, a favorable election outcome and easy monetary policy have set Wall Street indexes for strong annual gains, despite a rocky start to the year.

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc rose marginally after slumping more than 6% in its first day of trading as part of the S&P 500 on Monday.

Investors are awaiting a final reading of third-quarter GDP data at 8:30 am ET (1330 GMT). Also on tap is a consumer confidence report at 10 am ET that is expected to show an increase from the preceding month on positive developments in coronavirus vaccines and recent stimulus measures. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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