Wall Street jumps with financials; Gilead data offsets virus fears
By Caroline Valetkevitch
(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Friday as a positive analysis on Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug to treat COVID-19 helped to soothe investor worries over a record rise in coronavirus cases in the United States, and as financial shares surged.
The Nasdaq posted its sixth record closing high in seven days, but the index underperformed both the Dow and S&P 500, in a reversal of the recent trend.
The S&P 500 financials index <.SPSY> rose 3.5%, leading sector gains and giving the S&P 500 its biggest boost. Bank of America Corp <BAC.N> shares increased 5.5%, Citigroup Inc <C.N> jumped 6.5% and JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> climbed 5.5% ahead of their financial results next week, which will mark the onset of the second-quarter earnings season.
Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Seattle, said there was a rotation “from winners into laggards” in Friday’s trading, with the earnings period around the corner.
The United States registered the largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 infections globally for the second day in a row on Thursday, forcing Americans to take new precautions. Several states have already backpedaled on reopening plans.
Gilead’s <GILD.O> remdesivir significantly improved clinical recovery and reduced the risk of death in COVID-19 patients, additional data from a late-stage study showed. The drugmaker’s shares climbed 2.2% as it said the finding required confirmation in clinical trials.
“That kind of dampened some of the concern that’s been building over the past few days around the increased virus cases in the southern states,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management in Minneapolis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 369.21 points, or 1.44%, to 26,075.3, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 32.99 points, or 1.05%, to 3,185.04 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 69.69 points, or 0.66%, to 10,617.44.
For the week, the Dow rose 1%, the S&P 500 gained 1.8% and the Nasdaq jumped 4%. The Cboe Volatility index <.VIX> ended down on the day and fell 0.39 points for the week.
Overall profits for S&P 500 companies are expected to have fallen more than 40% in the second quarter, which would be the biggest quarterly profit decline since the financial crisis, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The first coronavirus cases in the United States were identified in January and within weeks much of the economy was shut down to slow the spread, throwing millions of Americans into unemployment. Companies across a range of industries have been dealing with the aftermath ever since.
The S&P 500 is up more than 40% from its March 23 bottom, thanks in part to economic data that has pointed to a revival in business activity in June.
Carnival Corp <CCL.N> jumped 10.8% after the cruise line operator said it was planning to resume operations in a phased manner and would operate with a smaller fleet on its return.
Netflix Inc <NFLX.O> rose 8.1% after Goldman Sachs hiked its price target on the video streaming service’s shares.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.87-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.62-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 85 new highs and 17 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.57 billion shares, compared with the 11.93 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
(Additional reporting by Medha Singh and C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Maju Samuel)