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US STOCKS-Wall St advances as small-time traders turn to silver

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* iShares Silver Trust ETF set for best day since 2008

* Wall Street’s fear gauge eases from 3-month high

* Indexes up: Dow 0.38%, S&P 0.65%, Nasdaq 0.99% (Updates to market open)

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes climbed on Monday following a steep sell-off last week, as a shift in the retail trading frenzy to silver drove up mining stocks and investors monitored progress in talks over economic stimulus.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced, with technology leading gains. Energy and consumer staples lagged the most.

The iShares Silver Trust ETF jumped 9.3% as silver broke above $30 an ounce for the first time since 2013 with an army of retail traders storming into the metal after betting billions of dollars on stocks last week.

Silver miners Hecla Mining Co, Coeur Mining Inc and Wheaton Precious Metals Corp surged between 5.5% and 35%.

“It’s just a relief rally after the sharp decline on Friday,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Wall Street’s main indexes last week logged their steepest weekly fall since October, as investors digested efficacy data from Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial results, while a slugfest between Wall Street hedge funds and retail investors added to volatility.

The CBOE volatility index eased on Monday from three-month highs that were fueled by a surge in shares of GameStop Corp, AMC Entertainment Holdings and others that burnt hedge funds who had bet against the companies. GameStop was down about 18%, while AMC jumped another 8% on Monday.

The wild swings in the so-called “meme” stocks dominated news on Wall Street last week, even as Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and other corporate heavyweights reported quarterly results.

“The sentiment right now is precarious. The market has already discounted a good earnings season and rebound in economic growth based on the vaccination,” Cardillo said.

Of the 184 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 84.2% have topped analyst expectations, well above the 75.5% beat rate for the past four quarters, according to Refinitiv data as of Friday.

Focus now turns towards quarterly earnings from Amazon.com Inc and Google-owner Alphabet Inc on Tuesday to wrap up results from the so-called FAANG group.

President Joe Biden will meet 10 moderate Republican senators on Monday to discuss their proposal to shrink his sweeping $1.9 trillion U.S. COVID-19 relief package, even as Democrats prepare to push legislation through Congress without Republican support.

At 10:05 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 102.99 points, or 0.38%, to 30,097.24, the S&P 500 gained 24.19 points, or 0.65%, to 3,739.05 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 128.37 points, or 0.99%, to 13,199.07.

Latest economic survey showed U.S. manufacturing activity slowed slightly in January, while a measure of prices paid by factories for raw materials and other inputs jumped to its highest level in nearly 10 years, strengthening expectations inflation will perk up this year.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.1-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.8-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted four new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and 10 new lows. (Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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