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US STOCKS-S&P, Nasdaq higher on vaccine hopes,…

By Pawel Goraj and Devik Jain

July 1 – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose on Wednesday as rising hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine offset fears of another round of lockdowns following a record surge in coronavirus cases in the United States.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German biotech firm BioNTech showed promise and was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trial, the companies said.

Pfizer’s shares rose 4.8% on the news, one of the biggest boost to the S&P 500 index, while BioNTech gained 3%, helping improve the mood on Wall Street after the United States registered 47,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic.

Updates on the progress in various COVID-19 vaccine programs are being closely watched by investors, and have been partly responsible for Wall Street’s recent rally. The S&P 500 closed its best quarter since 1998 on Tuesday.

The market in general has reacted positively to these bits of news as they are all tied to the COVID situation, said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey. “The COVID-19 is the linchpin to the market right now.”

The S&P 500 on Tuesday secured its biggest quarterly percentage gain in more than two decades fueled by unprecedented levels of fiscal and monetary stimulus.

Investors have also focused on signs of an economic recovery with the easing of coronavirus-induced lockdowns. Data on Wednesday showed a slump in global manufacturing was easing in June, with U.S. figures hitting their highest level in more than a year.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity jumped to a reading of 52.6 last month from 43.1 in May, ending three straight months of contraction, or readings below 50.

On Thursday, all eyes will be on the Labor Department’s nonfarm payrolls report.

“The manufacturing number adds a boost to investor confidence. And now the market is positioning itself in anticipation for tomorrow’s numbers,” Bakhos added.

The ADP National Employment Report on Wednesday showed U.S. private payrolls increased by 2.369 million jobs, but still less than expected in June.

At 11:43 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 19.88 points, or 0.08%, at 25,793.00, the S&P 500 was up 8.47 points, or 0.27%, at 3,108.76 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 56.63 points, or 0.56%, at 10,115.39.

Battered cruise line operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Inc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Carnival Corp rose between 3.6% and 6.0%.

Drugmaker Amgen Inc rose 5% after a federal appeals court upheld two patents for the drugmaker’s multibillion-dollar rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel.

FedEx Corp jumped 14.3% after posting better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue, helped by a surge in pandemic-fueled home deliveries.

Declining issues nearly matched advancers on the NYSE and outnumbered them 1.46-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 13 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 64 new highs and eight new lows. (Reporting by Pawel Goraj in Gdansk, Devik Jain and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta)

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