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US STOCKS-Wall St inches higher on Pfizer vaccine update, upbeat consumer data

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* U.S. retail sales accelerate in September

* Dow Jones Transport index drops

* Peloton falls on clip-in pedals recall

* Indexes up: Dow 0.7%, S&P 0.4%, Nasdaq 0.1% (Updates to early afternoon)

Oct 16 (Reuters) - Wall Street bounced back on Friday after three straight days of losses, following a positive update from Pfizer on development of its COVID-19 vaccine and on data that showed stronger-than-expected retail sales growth last month.

The drugmaker’s shares firmed 2.6% as it expects to provide safety data and file for authorization of the vaccine it is developing with Germany’s BioNTech SE, as soon as a safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November.

BioNTech’s U.S.-listed shares jumped 3.2%.

Latest data showed U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in September, though recovery from the recession is at a crossroads as government money runs out and companies continue to layoff workers.

The University of Michigan’s preliminary index on consumer sentiment for October came in at 81.2, ahead of the 80.5 forecast.

“Even though the backdrop of the economy still shows we are pulling out of the downturn, the U.S. consumer overall remains solid,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist, Prudential Financial, in Newark, New Jersey.

“However, if a stimulus package is not forthcoming either before or after the election you could see a leveling off in consumer spending.”

Trading on Wall Street this week has been dictated by news about more federal aid to help businesses and households reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the S&P 500 on track for its smallest weekly gains in three.

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will return to the campaign trail with visits to three battleground states, a day after the two contenders clashed from afar during dueling televised town halls.

Meanwhile, after a mixed start to the third-quarter earnings season from the big Wall Street lenders, investors will look next week to results from Netflix Inc, one of the technology mega-caps that have benefited from stay-at-home demand during the pandemic.

Analysts’ expectations for S&P 500 companies’ earnings have improved to an 18.8% fall from a 25% tumble forecast three months earlier.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, with utilities and healthcare rising the most.

At 12:48 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 209.97 points, or 0.74%, to 28,704.17, the gained 12.59 points, or 0.36%, to 3,495.93 and the gained 14.42 points, or 0.12%, to 11,728.45.

Kansas City Southern shed 2.1% as the railroad operator’s quarterly revenue missed estimates, while transportation and logistics company J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc tumbled 8.5% after it missed profit estimates.

The Dow Jones Transport index fell 0.8%.

Schlumberger slid 8% after the top oilfield services provider reported a third straight quarterly loss, pulling the S&P energy index down 0.5%.

Stay-at-home winner Peloton Interactive Inc fell 3.2% after it recalled clip-in pedals on about 27,000 of its bikes following reports of laceration injuries. (bit.ly/3k5iexZ)

Advancing issues nearly matched decliners on the NYSE, while they outnumbered decliners for a 1.2-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 49 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 80 new highs and 12 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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