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Wall St. set to start month on firm footing; economic data in focus

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(Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were set to rise on Monday after a week of largely upbeat earnings strengthened expectations of sustained profit growth for companies, with investors awaiting data to gauge the pace of the country's economic recovery.

With more than half of S&P 500 companies having already reported results so far, profits are seen rising 46% in the first quarter, compared with forecasts of 24% growth at the start of April, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Megacap technology stocks rose in premarket trading, with Apple Inc, Inc, Alphabet Inc, and Microsoft Corp adding between 0.2% and 0.7% after posting largely upbeat results in the prior week.

Improving economic data, strong earnings, fiscal stimulus and the Federal Reserve's ultra accommodative stance have supported markets, pushing the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes to record levels last week.

"Earnings so far have been substantially better than projections. People and institutions are feeling positive about the market right now even though we're close to all-time highs," said Mark Grant, chief global market strategist at B. Riley FBR in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Data on Monday is expected to show a slight rise in national factory activity, while a reading of the Labor Department's non-farm payrolls data is slated to be released on Friday.

At 8:36 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 181 points, or 0.54%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 20.25 points, or 0.49%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 50 points, or 0.36%.

Tesla Inc fell 0.7%. Industry sources told Reuters the electric-vehicle maker, under scrutiny in China over safety and customer service complaints, is boosting its engagement with mainland regulators and beefing up its government relations team.

Moderna Inc gained 3.5% after the drugmaker said it will supply 34 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year to the global COVAX program.

Estee Lauder Companies Inc slid 4.1% after missing analysts' estimates for third-quarter sales, hurt by weak demand for the cosmetics maker's premium makeup products as people continued working from home.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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