July 13, 2020 / 2:38 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St advances on vaccine hopes, Pepsi boost

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* Analog Devices rises on $21 bln deal to buy rival Maxim

* Pepsi gains as results beat on higher demand for snacks

* Pfizer, BioNTech get ‘fast track’ status for vaccine candidates

* Indexes: Dow 1.07%, S&P 0.89%, Nasdaq 1.27% (Updates to open)

By Medha Singh and Devik Jain

July 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Monday with the Nasdaq at a fresh intraday record high as investors cheered signs of progress in COVID-19 vaccine development and an upbeat start to the second-quarter earnings season by Pepsi.

Shares of German biotech firm BioNTech jumped 10.9% and U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer climbed 4.3% as two of their experimental coronavirus vaccines received the U.S. FDA’s “fast track” designation.

“There are renewed expectations that the Pfizer vaccine will be ready for approval by the end of October, which is sooner than expected - so that’s very good news,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

Merger news also perked up investors as Analog Devices Inc announced a $21 billion deal to buy rival Maxim Integrated Products Inc, sending its shares up 13.0%. Analog shares fell 2.7%.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index rose 1.9%.

Pepsi Co gained 1.5% as it benefited from a surge in at-home consumption of salty snacks such as Fritos and Cheetos during lockdowns.

“The market is sniffing out that the worst is behind us and is looking forward to earnings and guidance, which will more than likely beat very low expectations,” Hayes said.

Still, investors are bracing for what could be the sharpest drop in quarterly earnings for S&P 500 firms since the financial crisis, according to IBES Refinitiv data. Results from big banks will be in focus this week.

The April-June reports will reveal the extent of the damage wreaked by coronavirus-induced lockdowns on corporate profits. With a record jump in cases in the United States and some other hotspots around the world, analysts have predicted a return to S&P 500 earnings growth only by 2021.

Recent economic data, however, has pointed to a revival in business activity, helping the Nasdaq clinch its sixth record close in seven weeks on Friday as broader markets rose on positive data from Gilead’s potential COVID-19 treatment.

The S&P 500 is about 6% below its own record high hit in February.

At 10:13 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 278.85 points, or 1.07%, at 26,354.15, the S&P 500 was up 28.32 points, or 0.89%, at 3,213.36, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 134.46 points, or 1.27%, at 10,751.90.

Technology, healthcare and consumer discretionary rose the most among the 11 major S&P sectors.

Tesla Inc jumped 12% to $1,729.28, building on a rally of nearly 25% in the past two consecutive weeks. Over the weekend, it slashed the price for its Model Y SUV.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.55-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.18-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 34 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 96 new highs and nine new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D'Silva

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