Progress in War Against COVID-19 Boosts Optimism…..

U.S. equities finished higher, posting a second-straight week of gains, as new developments in the forward progress in the war against the coronavirus pandemic boosted sentiment and overshadowed a record monthly drop in Leading Indicators. Yesterday evening, a report from STAT News said Gilead Sciences’ potential COVID-19 treatment, known as Remdesivir, saw “rapid” recoveries in a study of patients, President Donald Trump unveiled guidelines on reopening the world’s largest economy and Dow member Boeing said it plans to restart commercial-plane production. In earnings news, Dow component Procter & Gamble posted mixed quarterly results and guidance. Treasury yields were higher as bond prices fell, while the U.S. dollar lost modest ground, and gold and crude oil prices tumbled. Europe and Asia both also finished with widespread gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 705 points (3.0%) to 24,242, the S&P 500 Index increased 75 points (2.7%) to 2,875 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 118 points (1.4%) to 8,650. In heavy volume, 1.4 billion shares were traded on the NYSE and 4.3 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil fell $1.60 to $18.27 per barrel and wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $0.71 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price was $33.99 lower at $1,683.71 per ounce, while the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—lost 0.3% to 99.78. Markets were higher for the week, as the DJIA gained 2.2%, the S&P 500 rose 3.0% and the Nasdaq Composite increased 6.1%.

U.S. stocks continued to widen the gap from the March 23rd lows amid a host of positive developments on the fight against the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. A STAT News article late-yesterday reported that a Chicago hospital has been conducting a study of Gilead Sciences Inc’s (GILD $84) treatment for the coronavirus, known as Remdesivir, which has seen “rapid” recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms in patients receiving the treatment. The report also notes that most of the patients have already been discharged, but Bloomberg is reporting that University of Chicago spokesperson, Lorna Wong, warned that “drawing any conclusions at this point is premature and scientifically unsound.” GILD also stressed that anecdotal reports are not enough to determine yet whether the treatment will be an effective one, per CNBC. The results still need to be confirmed in a formal clinical trial with data expected to be released in the next couple weeks. GILD traded higher.

Moreover, Dow component Boeing Company (BA $154) announced plans to resume commercial-plane production at its Puget Sound-region facilities next week, after suspending operations last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. BA rallied.

Treasuries were lower, as the yield on the 2-year note was flat at 0.20%, while the yield on the 10-year note gained 4 basis points (bps) to 0.65%, and the 30-year bond rate was 5 bps higher at 1.27%.

U.S. stocks added to last week’s historic rally with consumer discretionary, healthcare, information technology and communications services sectors leading the way. The power of positive headlines regarding the war on the coronavirus was on display as the markets were boosted by the continued flattening of the curve in the key hot spot of New York.

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