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Wall Street mixed in choppy trade as tech regains ground



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U.S. business activity inches up in June

Spirit Aero up following report of Boeing nearing buyout deal

Sarepta surges on expanded use of gene therapy

Indexes: Dow down 0.02%, S&P up 0.04%, Nasdaq up 0.26%

Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET/1612 GMT

By Lisa Pauline Mattackal and Ankika Biswas

June 21 (Reuters) -Wall Street's main indexes were flat to higher in choppy trading on Friday, with the Nasdaq reversing earlier losses as megacap tech stocks regained ground, while investors also assessed stronger-than-expected U.S. business activity data.

Megacaps Microsoft MSFT.O Alphabet GOOGL.O, Amazon.com AMZN.O and Apple AAPL.O rose between 0.7% and 2%, lifting the tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC and helping the S&P 500 .SPX pare early losses.

The S&P 500 Technology index .SPLRCT reversed early losses, rising 0.1%, while financial stocks .SPSY were the biggest decliner.

All the three major Wall Street indexes were on track to post weekly gains, with the S&P 500 .SPX briefly crossing the 5,500-point milestone during Thursday's session.

U.S. business activity crept up to a 26-month high in June amid a rebound in employment, but price pressures subsided considerably, offering hope that a recent slowdown in inflation was likely to be sustained.

Flash services PMI increased to 55.1 this month, above expectations of 53.7, while manufacturing PMI edged up to 51.7, compared with expectations of a dip to 51.

May home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.11 million units versus expectations of 4.10 million units.

The market is also assessing a string of weakening economic data, and commentary from U.S. Federal Reserve officials this week that interest rates could remain higher for longer if there is no consistent improvement in inflation numbers.

"It certainly looks like at this point the Fed is going to hold tight for a while ... the market is slowly adjusting to that reality," said Lamar Villere, portfolio manager with Villere & Co.

Money markets are still pricing in a 58% chance of a 25-basis point rate cut in September, and still expect about two rate cuts this year, according to LSEG's FedWatch data. FEDWATCH

AI chip firm Nvidia NVDA.O slipped 0.5%, while semiconductor stocks Qualcomm QCOM.O, Broadcom AVGO.O and Micron Technology MU.O were down between 0.2% and 2%.

Wall Street's bumper gains since the final leg of 2023 have been primarily driven by the likes of Nvidia and a handful of other heavily weighted stocks linked to artificial intelligence. Analysts, however, have raised concerns whether the strong increase in their valuations is sustainable.

Friday's session will mark the expiry of quarterly derivatives contracts tied to stocks, index options and futures, also known as "triple witching", adding to market volatility.

At 12:12 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 9.57 points, or 0.02%, at 39,125.19, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 2.04 points, or 0.04%, at 5,475.21, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 45.86 points, or 0.26%, at 17,767.44.

Spirit AeroSystems SPR.N rose 6.1% following a Reuters report that Boeing BA.N is nearing a deal to buy back the airplane parts supplier after months of talks.

Sarepta Therapeutics SRPT.O soared 35.2% after the U.S. FDA allowed expanded use of the company's gene therapy for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy aged four and older.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.14-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 18 new highs and 116 new lows.



Reporting by Lisa Mattackal and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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