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Stock market news live updates: Stocks rise on hopes of COVID-19 treatment

Emily McCormick
·Reporter
·11 min read
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Stocks advanced Wednesday as investors considered positive updates from Gilead over the results of a trial of its coronavirus treatment candidate. The news eclipsed a dismal report on first-quarter gross domestic product, which showed the U.S. economy shrank on an annualized basis for the first time since 2014.

[Click here to read what’s moving markets heading into Thursday, April 30]

The U.S. economy contracted by 4.8% in the first quarter on an annualized basis, or the most since late 2008. A drop-off in consumption contributed heavily to the decline, with personal consumption down a much worse than expected 7.6%. Consumer spending comprises more than two-thirds of domestic economic activity.

Most economists expect the contraction will only deepen in the second quarter.

“The economy will continue to fall until the country opens back up,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Union Bank, said in an email. “If the economy fell this hard in the first quarter, with less than a month of pandemic lockdown for most states, don't ask how far it will crater in the second quarter because it is going to be a complete disaster.”

With this data in tow, monetary policymakers reaffirmed their commitment to taking measures to support the virus-stricken domestic economy. Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Reserve announced its decision to keep benchmark interest rates near zero “until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.”

This week, investors have been eyeing an onslaught of both economic data and corporate earnings results, with most of these reflecting weak first-quarter results and even weaker prospects for the second quarter. Tuesday evening, Starbucks (SBUX) reported a same-store sales decline that was worse than consensus analysts expected, and said the negative impact to current-quarter results in the U.S. would likely be “significantly greater” before moderating. Automaker Ford (F) posted automotive sales that dropped 16% in the first quarter over last year and said it expects to lose more than $5 billion in the second quarter, before interest and taxes.

Shares of Google-parent company Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) rose after the internet search giant reported first-quarter sales that topped expectations, reflecting strong trends in the period before the coronavirus pandemic broadened out and dampened many of its customers’ advertising spending plans.

4:02 p.m. ET: Dow gains 532 points after Gilead reports positive results from coronavirus treatment trial

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:02 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +76.12 (+2.66%) to 2,939.51

  • Dow (^DJI): +532.31 (+2.21%) to 24,633.86

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +306.98 (+3.57%) to 8,914.71

  • Crude (CL=F): +$3.06 (+24.80%) to $15.40 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$6.20 (+0.36%) to $1,728.40 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.7 bps to yield 0.6270%

2:08 p.m. ET: Stocks hold onto gains after Fed decision

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 2:07 p.m. ET Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +72.63 points (+2.54%) to 2,936.02

  • Dow (^DJI): +503.55 points (+2.09%) to 24,605.1

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +282.7 points (+3.28%) to 8,889.6

  • Crude (CL=F): +$3.10 (+25.12%) to $15.44 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$4.50 (-0.26%) to $1,717.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.7 bps to yield 0.617%

2:00 p.m. ET: Fed holds interest rates steady, highlights coronavirus impact

Members of the Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday announced its unanimous decision to keep benchmark interest rates near zero, as had widely been expected. In its statement, the central bank highlighted the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the domestic economy.

“The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” according to the statement.

“The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals,” it added.

The Fed also said it would continue to support the domestic economic through its wide range of recently announced programs, including large-scale purchases of Treasury and agency residential and commercial mortgage backed securities.

12:15 p.m. ET: Lyft says it is laying off 17% of workforce

The country’s No. 2 ride-hailing player said it is laying off nearly one-fifth of its workforce “in light of the ongoing economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Company’s business,” according to a regulatory filing Wednesday.

The total cuts amount to layoffs of 982 employees and furloughs of an additional 288 workers. Lyft said it is also reducing salaries for exempt employees for a 12-week period, including a 30% cut for executives, 20% for vice presidents and 10% for all other employees.

Lyft also expects to incur up to $36 million in restructuring and other charges due to the layoffs and related severance and benefits costs, mostly in the second quarter.

12:07 p.m. ET: Stocks extend gains as Gilead stokes hopes of coronavirus treatment

Stocks advanced as Wednesday’s session rolled on, with the Energy sector leading gains in the S&P 500. A more than 9% rise in shares of Boeing, after the aircraft manufacturer reported a smaller first-quarter loss than expected, led gains in the Dow.

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 12:07 p.m. ET Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +76.72 points (+2.68%) to 2,940.11

  • Dow (^DJI): +562.92 points (+2.34%) to 24,664.47

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +283.54 points (+3.29%) to 8,890.84

  • Crude (CL=F): +$3.73 (+30.23%) to $16.07 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$6.30 (-0.37%) to $1,715.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.5 bps to yield 0.605%

10:00 a.m. ET: Pending home sales tumble in March by most in a decade

Pending home sales plunged 20.8% in March over February, representing the biggest drop since 2010, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday, as the coronavirus outbreak hit the housing market across the nation. Consensus economists had expected pending home sales to drop by 13.6% in March, according to Bloomberg data, after a 2.3% rise in February.

“The housing market is temporarily grappling with the coronavirus-induced shutdown, which pulled down new listings and new contracts,”NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “As consumers become more accustomed to social distancing protocols, and with the economy slowly and safely reopening, listings and buying activity will resume, especially given the record low mortgage rates.”

9:37 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher on coronavirus treatments hopes

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:37 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +51.71 points (+1.81%) to 2,915.1

  • Dow (^DJI): +382.43 points (+1.59%) to 24,483.98

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +158.51 points (+1.84%) to 8,769.33

  • Crude (CL=F): +$3.15 (+25.53%) to $15.49 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$8.50 (-0.49%) to $1,713.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.5 bps to yield 0.595%

8:37 a.m. ET: Gilead says coronavirus treatment drug candidate hit primary endpoint in trial

Gilead Sciences said the preliminary results of a trial for its antiviral drug remdesivir showed 50% of coronavirus-positive patients treated with a five-day dosage saw conditions clinically improve in 10 days, and more than half were discharged from the hospital within two weeks.

The trial was run by the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and sought to test whether remdesivir would induce a quicker recovery for patients with COVID-19 than those without the treatment.

“We understand that the trial has met its primary endpoint and that NIAID will provide detailed information at an upcoming briefing,” Gilead said in a statement. “Remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally and has not yet been demonstrated to be safe or effective for the treatment of COVID-19.”

8:33 a.m. ET: U.S. economy contracted for the first time in six years

U.S. gross domestic product turned negative for the first time since 2014 in the first three months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic broadened out across the globe and country in March, dragging output to a near standstill and driving a deep contraction in consumer spending.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its advance estimate of first-quarter 2020 GDP Wednesday morning. Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus expectations compiled by Bloomberg:

  • 1Q GDP annualized, QoQ: -4.8% vs. -4.0% expected, +2.1% in 4Q 2019

  • 1Q Personal consumption: -7.6% vs. -3.6% expected, +1.8% in 4Q 2019

  • 1Q Core PCE QoQ: +1.8% vs. +1.7% expected, +1.3% in 4Q 2019

7:46 a.m. ET: Boeing’s cash burn totals $4.3 billion in Q1 amid coronavirus, 737 Max woes

Boeing (BA) posted yet another steep quarterly loss on Wednesday, as the double-barrel blast from the coronavirus pandemic and its idled flagship plane forced the aerospace giant to burn through more than $4 billion in cash.

Quarterly revenue of $16.9 billion was just short of the $17.01 billion expected, according to Bloomberg-compiled data, while the company’s adjusted loss per share of $1.70 was slightly better than the $1.76 anticipated. Boeing’s operating cash flow was negative $4.3 billion and came as customers delayed new aircraft purchases, with air travel virtually flatlining amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing delivered only 50 planes in Q1, a 66% drop from 149 in the comparable year-ago quarter.

7:11 a.m. ET: Mortgage applications for home purchases rebounded last week

An index tracking mortgage applications to purchase homes recovered some recent losses last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly applications survey for the week ended April 24.

The Purchase Index increased 12% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior week. However, over last year, the unadjusted Purchase Index was 20% lower than the same week one year ago, after purchases declined sharply in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic kept home-buyers on the sidelines.

The rise came as mortgage rates fell to a record low in MBA’s survey, with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropping to 3.43% from 3.45% last week.

“The news in this week’s release is that purchase applications, still recovering from a five-year low, increased 12% last week to the strongest level in almost a month,” Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a statement. “The 10 largest states had increases in purchase activity, which is potentially a sign of the start of an upturn in the pandemic-delayed spring home buying season, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions slowly ease in various markets.”

An index tracking refinances fell 7% over last week, but was still 218% higher than the same week in 2019. Combined with the purchases index, overall mortgage applications decreased 3.3% over last week.

7:06 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures rise

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:06 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): up 20.5 points, or 0.71%, to 2,887.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): up 144 points, or 0.6%, to 24,189.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up 85.25 points, or 0.98%, to 8,805.00

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.64 (+13.29%) to $13.98 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$5.00 (-0.29%) to $1,717.20 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.6 bps to yield 0.594%

6:03 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures little changed Tuesday evening

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:03 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): down 0.75 points, or 0.03%, to 2,866.5

  • Dow futures (YM=F): down 38 points, or 0.16%, to 24,007.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up 34.25 points, or 0.39%, to 8,754.00

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands empty as the building prepares to close indefinitely due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., March 20, 2020.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands empty as the building prepares to close indefinitely due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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