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Stock market news live: Stocks post monster gains; Dow surges 9% adding nearly 2000 points as Trump declares coronavirus emergency

Emily McCormick and Javier E. David
·12 min read

Wall Street stocks skyrocketed on Friday, recouping a chunk of Thursday’s steep losses in a monster rally as President Donald Trump officially declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, providing fearful investors with momentary comfort.

Amid new infections and a rising death toll, the president outlined a broad, multi-pronged $50 billion effort designed stave off a pathogen that’s currently ravaging Italy and threatens to overwhelm Europe. In addition to student loan relief — and using the opportunity provided by low oil prices to “fill up” America’s strategic reserve — the initiative will loosen up regulations to allow hospitals to “do what they want” to combat the virus.

“This will pass, this will pass through, and we will be even stronger for it,” Trump said.

Friday’s rally — which saw benchmarks spike by over 9% — provided a brief respite from a bloody 3 week streak that culminated on Thursday, when the S&P 500 and Dow posted their biggest percentage-drop since 1987’s notorious “Black Monday.” The surge was Wall Street’s biggest since the 2008 crisis.

[Read more: S&P 500 enters bear market, Dow plunges 10% in biggest one-day percentage drop since 1987]

Coronavirus concerns continue to drive market volatility, with the number of cases globally rising to more than 135,000 with more than 5,000 deaths as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

The global outbreak, officially designated a pandemic earlier this week by the World Health Organization, has triggered widespread cancelations for major sports and cultural events and corporate conferences, and impelled universities across the country to halt in-person instruction. On Thursday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned public gatherings of more than 500 people in New York state, effective Friday evening.

The S&P 500 has gained or lost at least 4.89% every session this week, and plunged enough during the intraday session to trigger “circuit-breakers” to help prevent further extreme losses twice. Each of the three major indices entered a bear market this week, falling more than 20% from recent highs.

Amid these concerns, the response from policymakers escalated throughout the week, with the Federal Reserve adding further stimulus on top of its half-point interest rate cut last week with the announcement of an additional injection of $1.5 trillion in liquidity operations, along with purchases of Treasury securities across the yield curve. Elsewhere, Trump announced a month-long travel ban on inbound travelers from Europe, and said he would offer billions worth of low-interest loans to small and mid-sized businesses getting hit by the coronavirus.

The escalating coronavirus outbreak has also sparked an increasing number of economists to downwardly revise their expectations for global growth in the first half of the year.

4:00 p.m. ET: Stocks close out grim week with biggest rally since 2008

Investors liked what they heard in President Donald Trump’s coronavirus emergency press conference, sending Wall Street benchmarks on a tear following Thursday’s ugly sell-off.

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

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 2,710.95, up +230.31 or 9.28%

  • Dow (^DJI): 23,185.62, up +1,985.00 or 9.36%)

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 7,874.23, up +672.43 or +9.34%

  • Crude (CL=F): $33.27 per barrel, up $1.77 or +5.62%

  • Gold (GC=F): $1,521.40 per ounce, off -$68.90 or -4.33%

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): yielding 0.9510, up +0.1020 basis points

The session’s most notable moves include the unwinding of some safe-haven plays, with gold extending its deepest weekly loss since 2011, and Treasury yield hitting their highest levels in more than a week (but still below 1%). Meanwhile, U.S. crude suffered its worst week since 2008.

3:45 p.m. ET: Stocks test session highs as Trump outlines emergency response

Investors, who have been beset by fear and loathing during the widening coronavirus crisis, are pushing Wall Street benchmarks to session highs as Trump declares a national emergency. Apparently, traders like what they’re hearing, and appear ready to test the upside (for the moment).

3:33 p.m. ET: Trump officially declares a coronavirus emergency

In a press conference, president Donald Trump officially declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, a move that will free up federal funds to fight the growing spread of the virus. In the press conference, the president outlined a list of policies that will allow states and localities to address a growing crisis that’s claimed over 5,000 lives worldwide.

“No resource will be spared, none whatsoever,” Trump said in his remarks — even as he urged people to not “run out” to get tested if they weren’t overtly showing signs.

“Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus...and this will pass, and we’re going to be stronger for it,” the president added.

3:15 p.m. ET: Jack Ma to the rescue in coronavirus crisis

Chinese billionaire and Alibaba (BABA) co-founder Jack Ma announced a plan to donate 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and 1 million masks to the United States and urged international cooperation to fight the health crisis.

Ma's initiative, a collaboration between his private charity and Alibaba Foundation, had recently donated relief materials to areas in Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.

2:34 p.m. ET: Bank of Canada unexpectedly cuts benchmark overnight interest rates again

The Bank of Canada unexpectedly slashed its overnight interest rate target by a half percentage point to 0.75% in another emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This came a week after the central bank decided last week to cut its main interest rate, also by a half percentage point at the time to 1.25%.

"This unscheduled rate decision is a proactive measure taken in light of the negative shocks to Canada's economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices," the bank said in a statement.

“It is clear that the spread of the coronavirus is having serious consequences for Canadian families, and for Canada’s economy. In addition, lower prices for oil, even since our last scheduled rate decision on March 4, will weigh heavily on the economy, particularly in energy intensive regions.”

2:21 p.m. ET: Disney to halt some live-action film production amid coronavirus: CNBC

Disney (DIS) is suspending the production of some of its live-action films amid the mounting coronavirus epidemic, impacting films in progress including “The Little Mermaid,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Home Alone,” “The Last Duel,” “Nightmare Alley,” as well as “Peter Pan & Wendy” and “Shrunk,” CNBC reported Friday.

The announcement suggests a further dent to Disney’s segment housing box office releases, after the company earlier this week delayed indefinitely the release of new movies including Mulan. Studio revenue comprised about 24% of Disney’s operating income in the most recent quarter.

Disney also recently announced it would be closing its Disneyland locations in Anaheim, California and in Paris, along with Disney World in Florida, and suspending new departures of its Disney Cruise Line.

11:20 a.m. ET: Trump is poised to declare national emergency over the coronavirus: Bloomberg

President Donald Trump is planning to declare a national emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a report from Bloomberg, citing two unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The declaration is set to take place Friday, and would invoke the Stafford Act to allow for increased federal aid for states and local municipalities dealing with the fall-out of the outbreak, Bloomberg reported.

11:03 a.m. ET: Stocks pare gains after Trump news conference announcement

The three major indices rapidly cut gains in the minutes after President Donald Trump announced a news conference on the coronavirus later this afternoon. Stocks are still higher, but the coronavirus crisis has definitively capped any gains.

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 11:03 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +71.49 points (+2.88%) to 2,552.13

  • Dow (^DJI): +567.81 points (+2.68%) to 21,768.43

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +104.66 points (+2.86%) to 7,411.86

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.83 (+2.63%) to $32.33 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$21.30 (-1.34%) to $1,569.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +5.7 bps to yield 0.909%

10:56 a.m. ET: Trump to hold new conference on coronavirus outbreak at 3 p.m.

President Donald Trump wrote in a Twitter post that he will be holding a news conference Friday afternoon about the COVID-19 outbreak.

10:35 a.m. ET: NY Fed announces purchases of billions of dollars worth of Treasury securities across all durations

The New York Fed announced Friday that it would boost its Treasury buying operations to include purchases of securities across all durations, including 30-year bonds.

On Friday alone, the Fed will be purchasing about $37 billion worth of bonds across the yield curve, starting with long bonds.

“These purchases are intended to address highly unusual disruptions in the market for Treasury securities associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in a statement. “These purchases are part of the $80 billion of planned monthly purchases, including both $60 billion of reserve management purchases and $20 billion of reinvestments of principal payments received from the Federal Reserve’s holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities.”

10:00 a.m. ET: Consumer sentiment fell less than expected at the beginning of March: University of Michigan survey

Consumer sentiment fell less than expected in March, according to the preliminary monthly results of the University of Michigan’s closely watched consumer sentiment survey.

Headline consumer sentiment fell just over 5 points to 95.9 at the start of the month, down from 101.0 in February. Consensus economists had expected consumer sentiment to drop to 95.0 amid the coronavirus outbreak. In 2019, consumer sentiment averaged at 96.0.

Losses in the index were driven by consumers’ judgments about the economy for the year ahead, with steep losses in this component comprising 83% of the total point decline in the headline sentiment tracker.

The preliminary March survey was conducted February 26 through March 11, making it one of the first major economic data reports to include the period when concerns over the coronavirus materially escalated worldwide. The survey dates capture much of the recent market sell-off, emergency Federal Reserve rate cut, widening travel bans and widespread global event cancelations.

Here’s what Richard Curtin, Surveys of Consumers chief economist, said about the results in a statement:

Consumer sentiment fell in early March due to the spreading coronavirus and the steep declines in stock prices. Importantly, the initial response to the pandemic has not generated the type of economic panic among consumers that was present in the run-up to the Great Recession. Nonetheless, the data suggest that additional declines in confidence are still likely to occur as the spread of the virus continues to accelerate. Perhaps the most important factor limiting consumers' initial reactions is that the pandemic is widely regarded as a temporary event.

In Curtin’s view, “the best policy antidote would be immediate relief provided by multiple sources of cash transfers and debt forbearance.”

“To avoid a recession, speed is more essential than targeting,” he said.

9:44 a.m. ET: Trump doubles down on call for lower rates

President Donald Trump again called on the Federal Reserve to lower benchmark interest rates further, “to something comparable to their competitor Central Banks,” he said in a Twitter post Friday morning.

Trump has called repeatedly for the Fed to cut rates into negative territory in an effort to prop up financial markets and the economy. The remarks come about a week after the Fed employed an emergency interest rate cut of 50 basis points amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Fed is expected to cut rates further at the close of its upcoming monetary policy-setting meeting next week.

9:39 a.m. ET: Stocks open sharply higher

Stocks shot higher at market open Friday morning, recovering some of Thursday’s losses. In the S&P 500, the Financials and Information Tech sectors outperformed.

Advances in the Dow were led by Intel (INTC), Procter & Gamble (PG) and the Boeing Company (BA).

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:42 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +114.7 points (+4.6%) to 2,594.81

  • Dow (^DJI): +757.85 points (+3.57%) to 21,958.47

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +279.65 points (+3.9%) to 7,479.99

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.29 (+4.1%) to $32.79 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$2.20 (-0.14%) to $1,588.10 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +8.3 bps to yield 0.935%

7:48 a.m. ET: Stock futures surge, hitting limit up

Stock futures surged overnight, sending the indices to their upper limits to prevent further extreme gains. Contracts on each of the three major indices rose more than 5%.

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:46 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 2,595, up 126 points or +5.1%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 22,195.00, up 1,110 points or +5.26%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 7,622.75, up 407.5 points or +5.65%

  • Crude oil (CL=F): $33.23 per barrel, up $1.73%

  • Ten-year Treasury note: yielding 0.951%, up 9.9 basis points

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) near the close of trading New York, U.S., March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) near the close of trading New York, U.S., March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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