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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 +1.5%, S&P 500 +0.7%, Nasdaq +0.2% (Updates with afternoon trade)
By Noel Randewich
July 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street climbed on Monday, with the Nasdaq hitting 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 PepsiCo.
Shares of German biotech firm BioNTech jumped 12% and Pfizer Inc climbed 5.4% as two of their experimental coronavirus vaccines received the U.S. FDA’s “fast track” designation.
The S&P 500 briefly touched its highest level since Feb. 25 after rebounding over 40% since mid-March, even as COVID-19 infections rose rapidly in Arizona, California and Texas and about 35 other states.
“The only fear out there is the fear of missing out. It’s FOMO running rampant,” said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC. “It’s money that has been on the sidelines, scared that it missed the boat.”
Merger news also perked up investors as chipmaker Analog Devices Inc announced a $21 billion deal to buy rival Maxim Integrated Products Inc, whose shares rose 11%. Analog shares fell 3.6%.
PepsiCo Inc gained 1.6% after it said it benefited from a surge in at-home consumption of salty snacks such as Fritos and Cheetos during lockdowns.
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 S&P 500 remains down about 5% from its February record high and it is down about 1% for 2020.
By 2:43 p.m. ET (1843 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.5% at 26,465.32 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.68% to 3,206.54.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 0.16% to 10,634.46 after earlier rising almost 2%.
The S&P 500 healthcare index jumped 2%, making it the session’s strongest sector.
Tesla Inc jumped 13% extending its recent rally. Over the weekend, it cut the price for its Model Y SUV.
Recent economic data has strengthened belief that the stimulus-pumped U.S. economy is on the road to recovery, helping investors look past a recent spike in U.S. infections.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.06-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.53-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 38 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 126 new highs and 17 new lows.
Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Devik Jain in Bengaluru Editing by Marguerita Choy