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Dow, S&P 500 slide as focus shifts to earnings; Nasdaq gains

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P 500 fell on Monday as U.S. companies prepared to kick off a quarterly earnings season expected to be rough due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Amazon.com AMZN.O gains helped the Nasdaq end higher.

Stocks pared losses late in the day, with the Nasdaq registering its first three-day streak of gains since Feb. 12. Amazon.com gave the index its biggest boost, gaining 6.2% as the retail giant said it would hire 75,000 more people amid a surge in demand for online orders.

The S&P banking subsector .SPXBK fell 4.1%, with JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N and Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N set to report on Tuesday and analysts expecting a bleak outlook for the year.

Volume was lighter than usual with European and other markets still closed following Easter Sunday, but investors are also bracing for earnings news from companies, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 328.6 points, or 1.39%, to 23,390.77, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 28.19 points, or 1.01%, to 2,761.63 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 38.85 points, or 0.48%, to 8,192.43.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.93 billion shares, compared with the 14.80 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

“What you’re seeing at the end of the day is investors who are sitting with too much cash are buying on the dips,” said Dennis Dick, head of market structure and proprietary trader at Bright Trading in Las Vegas. “I think that trend continues unless the news flow gets predominantly worse.”

Some strategists said comments by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday helped to ease some investor concerns. Cuomo said he believed “the worst is over” as hospitalizations appeared to be reaching a plateau in the worst-hit U.S. state, adding that he would announce a coordinated plan on reopening businesses.

Aggressive U.S. monetary and fiscal stimulus and early signs of a potential peaking in U.S. coronavirus cases have helped stocks recover recently from their dramatic sell-off tied to the pandemic.

Carnival Corp CCL.N, Royal Caribbean Cruises RCL.N and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings NCLH.N tumbled as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its "no sail order" for all cruise ships. Ford Motor Co F.N shed 3.9% after the carmaker projected a quarterly adjusted loss before interest and taxes to be about $600 million, compared with a profit of $2.4 billion a year earlier.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.57-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.61-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 3 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 15 new highs and 13 new lows.

Additional reporting by April Joyner in New York and Medha Singh and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown, Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler

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