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US STOCKS-S&P 500 near record high on Facebook boost, Nasdaq eases

* Apple slips despite strong quarterly results

* Communication services leads gains among S&P 500 sectors

* U.S. economy accelerates in Q1; jobless claims edge lower

* Indexes: Dow up 0.12%, S&P up 0.12%, Nasdaq down 0.38% (Updates prices to early afternoon)

April 29 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 hovered near record highs on Thursday, helped by gains in Facebook and upbeat economic data, while the Nasdaq eased as investors locked in profits from certain megacap technology firms.

Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were trading higher, with communication services stocks leading gains.

Facebook Inc jumped 5.8% to an all-time high after beating market expectations for quarterly revenue and profit, helped by a surge in digital ad spending during the pandemic and higher ad prices.

Apple Inc, however, slipped 0.5% despite posting sales and profit ahead of Wall Street estimates on strong iPhone and Mac sales.

Shares of other high-flying stocks including Microsoft Corp , Tesla Inc and Amazon.com Inc fell between 0.1% and 3.3%.

“Apple and Microsoft both had high expectations... while they did exceed consensus estimates, a lot of it was priced in, so there is some profit taking coming in,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman of Great Hill Capital.

Of the 265 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, 86.8% have topped analysts’ earnings estimates, with Refinitiv IBES data now predicting a 44.7% jump in profit growth.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes had touched record highs earlier in the session.

“The market seems to be weaning just a little bit, we have seen stocks coming off their opening highs,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“We are seeing investors question now ‘can the momentum continue’ and at least for today it looks like not really.”

Meanwhile, 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.

More earnings reports from Dow components rolled in, with Caterpillar Inc falling 3.1% after warning of supply-chain bottlenecks. Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc slid 5.1% after posting a drop in quarterly profit.

Global shares extended gains after the Federal Reserve said it was too early to consider rolling back emergency support for the economy, while U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus package.

At 12:40 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 39.06 points, or 0.12%, at 33,859.44, the S&P 500 was up 4.99 points, or 0.12%, at 4,188.17 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 52.91 points, or 0.38%, at 13,998.12.

McDonald’s Corp rose 0.8% after beating Wall Street estimates for comparable sales and returning to pre-pandemic levels of growth.

Amazon.com, Twitter Inc and Gilead Sciences Inc are set to report their earnings later in the day.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.37-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.74-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 104 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 130 new highs and 18 new lows. (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur)

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