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UPDATE 2-Alphabet shares surge 9% after Trump praises Google for coronavirus website

website@ (Adds comments from antitrust expert, retail trade body)

March 13 (Reuters) - Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc closed up more than 9% after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday the search giant would create a website to help determine whether individuals need a coronavirus test or not.

"I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website, it's gonna be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location," Trump said.

"Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now, made tremendous progress."

Vice President Mike Pence said the launch date of the website would be known by Sunday night.

Google did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

"Google cozying up to the government doesn't hurt. Obviously there are a lot of factors that are weighed in the antitrust investigation, which could go either way," said Andre Barlow, an antitrust expert with the law firm Doyle, Barlow and Mazard, PLLC.

The company is facing a number of antitrust investigations from state and federal agencies over its search and digital advertising businesses.

"Google is for the most part does a lot of things that benefit consumers but that doesn't mean they haven't done things that harm their rivals," Barlow said.

President Trump, in the past, has accused Google of skewing its search results to portray him negatively. The company also attracted ire from the Trump administration for not renewing a contract to provide its artificial intelligence technologies for a military drone program.

RETAIL SUPPORT

The U.S. retail industry also pitched in with help to speed up testing for the fast-spreading virus that has infected more than 1,660 people in the United States.

Leading U.S. retailers will partner with the government to assist with drive-through coronavirus testing sites on their store properties, the Retail Industry Leaders Association said.

"Utilizing parking lots and partnering with the government to expedite testing is paramount right nowthis is an unprecedented situation that demands an all-hands-on-deck approach," said the trade body, which has Walmart Inc and Target Corp among its members.

U.S. testing of coronavirus was hampered by flawed kits distributed by the federal government in February, which gave some false results.

(Reporting by Chris Sanders, Makini Brice and Diane Bartz in Washington and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Arun Koyyur)