US STOCKS-Wall St gains with upbeat earnings, more deal activity

Reuters - UK Focus

* Merck (Other OTC: MKGAF - news) quarterly profit tops estimate but revenue misses

* Twitter (NYSE: TWTR - news) to report earnings after market close

* More U.S. companies beating earnings expectations

* Indexes up: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.7 pct (Updates to afternoon, changes byline)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Frankfurt: HX6.F - news) , April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday,helped by upbeat results from companies including Merck (Dusseldorf: 6MK.DU - news) & Co andSprint (Frankfurt: 2S7.F - news) , as well as more deal activity on the healthcare front.

Merck & Co 's shares jumped 2.9 percent to $58.35,giving the S&P 500 its biggest lift, after it reportedstronger-than-expected results.

Also, Britain's Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc confirmedtalks to buy Merck's consumer health business, the latest assetup for grabs in a wave of recent pharmaceutical deals.

"We've gone through a fair chunk of earnings and marketparticipants kind of get the story at this juncture. On balance,with expectations having been lowered, earnings beats are comingin around 70 percent and most of the forward-looking statementshave generally been pretty decent," said Mark Luschini, chiefinvestment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott inPhiladelphia, which manages about $63 billion in assets.

First (Other OTC: FSTC - news) -quarter profit growth for S&P 500 companies is seen at3.7 percent, based on actual results and estimates for companiesyet to report, compared with a forecast for 2.1 percent growthat the beginning of the month, Thomson Reuters (Frankfurt: TOC.F - news) data showed.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 91.86 points or0.56 percent, to 16,540.6, the S&P 500 gained 8.35 pointsor 0.45 percent, to 1,877.78 and the Nasdaq Composite added 28.264 points or 0.69 percent, to 4,102.665.

Sprint Corp shares jumped 10.2 percent to $8.19 afterthe No. 3 U.S. mobile provider reported an increase in quarterlyrevenue, as expected, due to a new billing plan that loweredwireless expenses.

On the down side, Coach Inc (NYSE: COH - news) reported a sharp drop inNorth American sales and the stock slumped 8.5 percent to$46.15.

Archer Daniels Midland Co were last down 3 percentat $43.03 after its first-quarter profit and sales missed WallStreet estimates.

The Fed's two-day policy meeting began on Tuesday, with thecentral bank expected to again scale back its monthly bondpurchase program. Investors will also be eager to get anyguidance on when it might raise interest rates.

Data suggested the economy continued to gain momentum afterthe winter lull. U.S. consumer confidence dipped in April butremained near a six-year high, while home prices rose inFebruary.

Shares of Twitter, up 3.8 percent at $42.26, is dueto report after the market close. (Additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by BernadetteBaum and Nick Zieminski)

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