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US STOCKS-Wall Street climbs on vaccine hopes, upbeat consumer data

Credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI

Wall Street bounced back on Friday after three straight days of losses, following a positive update from Pfizer on development of its COVID-19 vaccine and on data that showed stronger-than-expected retail sales growth last month.

By Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan

Oct 16 (Reuters) - Wall Street bounced back on Friday after three straight days of losses, following a positive update from Pfizer on development of its COVID-19 vaccine and on data that showed stronger-than-expected retail sales growth last month.

The drugmaker's shares PFE.N firmed 2.4% as it expects to provide safety data and file for authorization of the vaccine it is developing with Germany's BioNTech SE 22UAy.F, as soon as a safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November.

BioNTech's U.S.-listed shares BNTX.O jumped 1.8%.

Latest data showed U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in September, though recovery from the recession is at a crossroads as government money runs out and new COVID-19 infections surge across the country.

The University of Michigan's preliminary index on consumer sentiment for October came in at 81.2, ahead of the 80.5 forecast.

"Amid a stagnating labor market, the jump in retail sales this month suggests consumer strength is pretty robust," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial LLC in Jersey City.

"While a resilient consumer is a broad positive for the recovery, today's results could reduce the pressure on lawmakers to get any stimulus measure through before the election."

Trading on Wall Street this week has been dictated by news about more federal aid to help businesses and households reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the S&P 500 on track for its smallest weekly gains in three.

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will return to the campaign trail with visits to three battleground states, a day after the two contenders clashed from afar during dueling televised town halls.

Meanwhile, after a mixed start to the third-quarter earnings season from the big Wall Street lenders, investors will look next week to results from Netflix Inc NFLX.O, one of the technology mega-caps that have benefited from stay-at-home demand during the pandemic.

Analysts' expectations for S&P 500 companies' earnings have improved to an 18.8% fall from a 25% tumble forecast three months earlier.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors rose. Energy .SPNY and real estate indexes .SPLRCR were the only ones in negative territory.

At 11:17 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 255.40 points, or 0.90%, at 28,749.60, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 18.31 points, or 0.53%, at 3,501.65. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 28.56 points, or 0.24%, at 11,742.43.

Kansas City Southern KSU.N shed 2.3% as the railroad operator's quarterly revenue missed estimates, while transportation and logistics company J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc JBHT.O tumbled 8.1% after it missed profit estimates.

The Dow Jones Transport index .DJT fell 1%.

Schlumberger SLB.N slid 7.1% after the top oilfield services provider reported a third straight quarterly loss, pulling the S&P energy index .SPNY down 0.5%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.29-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.26-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 49 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 80 new highs and 12 new lows.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

((Medha.Singh@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2802; Twitter: https://twitter.com/medhasinghs))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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