May 20, 2020 / 8:12 PM / 4 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St climbs on stimulus hopes, as S&P, Nasdaq hit multi-month highs

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* Fed pledges to support economy -minutes

* Facebook and Amazon touch record highs

* Delta Air Lines CEO sees more summer flights

* Dow up 1.52%, S&P 500 up 1.67%, Nasdaq up 2.08% (Adds trading volume, market breadth)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuters) - The three major averages on Wall St notched their fourth gain in five sessions on Wednesday as investors again bet on a swift economic recovery from coronavirus-driven lockdowns and the potential for more stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve.

The S&P 500 stands at a two-month high and was briefly above its 100-day moving average, a closely watched technical indicator that has acted as a resistance level. The Nasdaq finished at its highest close in three months and was 4.5% below its Feb. 19 record close, as shares of Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc surged to all-time highs.

Gains were broad-based, with each of the 11 major S&P sectors turning higher. The small-cap Russell 2000 index, which usually leads gains out of a recession, outperformed the large-cap indexes.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting showed the central bank pledged to act as appropriate to support the economy until it is on track to recovery, a sentiment that Fed Chair Jerome Powell has voiced in recent days.

“We have way lower interest rates for the foreseeable future, so that effects the multiple that we have to buy discounted stocks at,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh. “And if you give yourself a little bit more time, is it crazy to think everything is going to come back in two years and you are going to hold it three to five years?”

Still, with economic data likely to be dismal in the coming weeks, there is concern that stocks may have gotten ahead of themselves, with the S&P up nearly 33% from its March 23 closing low.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 369.04 points, or 1.52%, to 24,575.9, the S&P 500 gained 48.67 points, or 1.67%, to 2,971.61 and the Nasdaq Composite added 190.67 points, or 2.08%, to 9,375.78.

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives plan to vote next week on giving small businesses more time to utilize their coronavirus aid under the Paycheck Protection Program, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday.

As states across the country begin to loosen restrictions, hopes for an economic rebound have grown. The NYSE Arca airlines index jumped 5.35% as Delta Air Lines Inc’s chief executive officer said he was confident travel will return in the next 12 to 18 months.

Target Corp shares declined 2.87% after the big box retailer reported a 64% plunge in quarterly profit, as costs related to the coronavirus outbreak outweighed a surge in online sales.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.68 billion shares, compared to the 11.36 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 4.23-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.70-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 76 new highs and 10 new lows.

Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Additional reporting by Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

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