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Wall Street indexes end sharply higher on optimism about debt ceiling

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York

By Noel Randewich and Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks finished sharply higher on Friday as talks on raising the U.S. debt ceiling progressed, while chip stocks surged for a second straight day on optimism about artificial intelligence.

After several rounds of talks, U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy appeared to be nearing a deal to increase the government's $31.4 trillion debt limit for two years, while capping spending on most items, a U.S. official told Reuters.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended a five-day losing streak, while the Nasdaq Composite Index and S&P 500 closed at their highest levels since August 2022, with the S&P 500 above 4,200 points.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index jumped 6.3%, bringing its gain in the past two sessions to over 13%. Building on recent euphoria related to AI, Marvell Technology Inc jumped 32% after the chipmaker said it would double its annual revenue related to AI.

Investors were closely watching debt ceiling talks as Biden and McCarthy still seemed at odds over several issues heading into the long weekend, with the U.S. stock market closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

"All the signs point to a deal getting done and this rally being sustained, but if we get through the weekend and we don't have a deal or it falls apart in some way, then we're going to wake up Tuesday morning to some pretty material losses," said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Nvidia Corp's stock climbed 2.5%, adding to its 24% gain on Thursday following its blowout forecast and elevating its stock market value to around $960 billion, according to Refinitiv.

The S&P 500 climbed 1.30% to end at 4,205.45 points.

The Nasdaq gained 2.19% at 12,975.69 points, while Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.00% to 33,093.34 points.

Of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes, eight rose, led by information technology, up 2.68%, followed by a 2.38% gain in consumer discretionary.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was relatively light, with 9.8 billion shares traded, compared to an average of 10.5 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.3%, the Dow fell 1.0% and the Nasdaq jumped 2.5%.

Data showed U.S. consumer spending increased more than expected in April and inflation picked up, which could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again next month.

"We still have inflation, we still have higher interest rates and that will continue to be an overhang for the market until the Federal Reserve goes on the sidelines," said David Sadkin, president at Bel Air Investment Advisors.

Traders now see a 60% chance of a 25-basis-point hike by the Fed in its June policy meet, up from about 40% before the data, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

Ford Motor Co jumped 6.2% after the automaker signed a deal allowing customers to access more than 12,000 Tesla Inc Superchargers in North America in early 2024. Tesla jumped 4.7%.

Ulta Beauty Inc plummeted 13.4% after the cosmetics retailer cut its annual operating margin forecast.

Paramount Global rallied 5.9% after the media conglomerate's controlling shareholder National Amusements received a $125 million investment.

Advancing issues outnumbered falling ones within the S&P 500 by a 2.2-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new highs and 15 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 77 new highs and 115 new lows.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, Claifornia; Editing by Maju Samuel, Vinay Dwivedi and Richard Chang)