May 20, 2020 / 3:37 PM / 16 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St climbs as investors hold out for recovery; Nasdaq at 3-month high

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* Big techs boost three main indexes

* Analog Devices jumps after rosy outlook

* Delta Air Lines CEO sees more summer flights

* Indexes up: Dow 1.58%, S&P 1.73%, Nasdaq 1.98% (Adds quote, details; updates prices)

By Medha Singh and Ambar Warrick

May 20 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes surged and the Nasdaq hit its highest level in three months on Wednesday as investors clung to hopes of a recovery from a coronavirus-fueled slump amid signs of more stimulus for ailing sectors.

The tech-heavy index, now about 5% below its all-time high hit in February, was boosted by Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc, which were trading at record levels, as well as Apple Inc.

The S&P 500 was about 12% below its all-time peak and the Dow Jones index was short by 17%.

"It relates to the reopening of the economy... some states are further along than others, but it's giving a little bit of confidence to the markets," said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Slatestone Wealth Llc in New York.

"If we can break through the 3,000 level (on the S&P 500) with some conviction, that's going to be a positive sign, and it's probably going to draw more money off the sidelines."

The three indexes have rallied more than 30% from March lows on unprecedented stimulus, but gains have been capped this month as traders digest mixed headlines on progress in developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Moderna Inc's Chief Executive Officer said a best-case scenario would see them filing for an approval for their potential COVID-19 vaccine by end 2020 or early 2021, days after announcing promising data from a very small early-stage trial.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell have said the government and the central bank were considering more steps to ensure the worst-hit areas of the economy received adequate support.

All eyes are now on the minutes from the Fed's latest policy meeting expected at 2 p.m. ET or 1800 GMT.

At 11:09 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 381.54 points, or 1.58%, at 24,588.40, the S&P 500 was up 50.62 points, or 1.73%, at 2,973.56. The Nasdaq Composite was up 181.84 points, or 1.98%, at 9,366.95.

Gains were broad-based with the cyclical sectors including industrials, energy and materials posting their biggest percentage gains on hopes of a pick-up in demand.

Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc rose 0.5% after posting higher quarterly same-store sales.

Analog Devices Inc gained 8.4% after the chipmaker forecast third-quarter profit ahead of expectations.

Target Corp slipped 1.7% after the big box retailer reported a 64% plunge in quarterly profit, pummeled by costs to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

S&P 1500 airlines index gained about 4.1% as Delta Air Lines Inc Chief Executive Officer said he was confident travel will return in the next 12 to 18 months.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5.50-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 4.85-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 13 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 62 new highs and seven new lows. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur)

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