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Futures climb on vaccine hopes, upbeat retail sales data

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(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Friday as Pfizer said it could apply for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate as early as November and as data showed stronger-than-expected retail sales growth last month.

The drugmaker's shares PFE.N firmed 2.1% in premarket trading as it expects to provide safety data and file for authorization of the vaccine, which it is developing with Germany's BioNTech SE 22UAy.F, as soon as a safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November.

BioNTech's U.S.-listed shares BNTX.O jumped 3.4%.

“The markets trade on hopes and promise, and the Pfizer news only aids that narrative even more,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer at LAAongbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Latest data showed U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in September, though the recovery from the recession is at a crossroads as government money runs out and new COVID-19 infections surge across the country.

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.

Talks between Democrats and Republicans also seem unlikely to yield a deal before the Nov. 3 election.

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 NFLX.O, 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.

Schlumberger SLB.N dropped 1% after the top oilfield services provider reported a third straight quarterly loss.

At 8:36 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 123 points, or 0.43%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 12.75 points, or 0.37%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 83.75 points, or 0.71%.

Boeing Co BA.N rose 4% as a report said Europe's aviation regulator had declared the U.S. planemaker's 737 MAX safe to fly again.

Gilead Sciences Inc GILD.O slipped 0.9% as a World Health Organization study concluded its COVID-19 drug remdesivir does not help patients who have been admitted to hospital. The company has questioned the findings of the study.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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