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S&P 500 to open near record high as focus turns to Fed's inflation stance

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(Reuters) -The S&P 500 was set to open near a record high on Monday as focus shifted to the Federal Reserve's meeting this week, where the central bank is expected to maintain its accommodative stance on monetary policy.

Recent data has indicated that the U.S. economy is regaining momentum but not overheating, taming worries about inflation and sending the S&P 500 to an all-time high.

While the Fed has reassured that any spike in inflation would be transitory, policymakers could begin discussing the tapering of bond buying at the Tuesday-Wednesday meeting. Most analysts, however, don't expect a decision before the central bank's annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, conference in August.

Any shift in the Fed's dovish rhetoric could upend equity markets. The benchmark has climbed 13% this year while the Dow and the Nasdaq have risen 12.6% and 9.2%, respectively.

"The market is looking for the Fed to not be dramatically alarmed about fears of inflation, or move too soon with tapering," said Thomas Hayes, chairman and managing member of Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

"We're kind of in this 'Goldilocks' situation where (economic) numbers keep coming in pretty good, liquidity is ample, the Fed is accommodative, and unless those things change, we shouldn't expect a big change in the stock market."

At 08:24 a.m. EDT, Dow E-minis were down 8 points, or 0.02%, S&P 500 E-minis were up 3 points, or 0.07% and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 42.75 points, or 0.31%.

Lordstown Motors Corp tumbled 14.6% after it said Chief Executive Steve Burns and Chief Financial Officer Julio Rodriguez have resigned, days after the electric-truck maker warned that it may not have enough cash to stay in business over the next year.

Oil firms Chevron, Marathon Oil Corp, Schlumberger, Occidental Petroleum and Marathon Petroleum Corp rose between 0.7% and 1% as crude prices hit their highest levels in more than two years. [O/R]

United Airlines Holdings and American Airlines Group gained 0.4% and 0.7% respectively after Citigroup raised its price target on the stocks.

Novavax rose 8.8% after its late-stage trial data showed its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is more than 90% effective against COVID-19 across a variety of variants of the virus.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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