Wall Street gains as U.S. extends shutdown to limit virus spread


(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Monday as President Donald Trump followed last week’s massive fiscal stimulus package by extending his stay-at-home guidelines, leaving investors to await more signs on the next stages of a deepening economic crisis.

NYSE-AMEX Options floor traders from TradeMas Inc. work in an off-site trading office built when the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) closed, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A record $2.2 trillion in aid and policy easing from the Federal Reserve helped equities recover some of their losses last week, with the S&P 500 .SPX posting its biggest weekly percentage gain in over a decade and the Dow Jones .DJI its best since 1938.

That is convincing few that the worst of the most dramatic sell-off in a decade is over, and Wall Street’s fear gauge , which predicts future volatility, is still running as high as it has been since the 2008 financial crisis.

However, the prospect of more government stimulus has given investors something to hold on to as they wait for signs of economic relief from the pandemic.

“We got some certainty last week with the U.S. passing legislation to help with liquidity but the general sentiment is still fairly uncertain as the numbers for the coronavirus cases continue to climb,” said Noah Hamman, chief executive office of AdvisorShares.

Even taking last week’s bounce into account, the severity of the spread of the virus and the likelihood of a deep global recession have so-far knocked $7 trillion off the value of S&P 500 companies.

The volatility has been extraordinary and sustained, with the Dow gaining nearly 2,000 points in one session, only to fall almost 3,000 points the next day.

“The big picture from the get go is that markets will calm down once they know that the depth and duration of this pandemic,” said Clark Kendall, chief executive officer of Kendall Capital in Rockville, Maryland

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) said on Saturday it expected real U.S. gross domestic product to fall 10% in the first quarter and plunge 25% in the second quarter.

All of the major S&P sectors were higher with technology .SPLRCT and healthcare .SPXHC, which outperformed other sectors in the rout, providing the biggest support to the benchmark index.

Boosting the healthcare index was an 8.4% jump in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) as the company got a boost from the U.S. government’s plans to help fund the creation of enough manufacturing capacity for its coronavirus vaccine, currently under development.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) climbed about the same after winning U.S. approval for a diagnostic test for COVID-19.

At 13:24 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 482.20 points, or 2.23%, at 22,118.98, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 66.06 points, or 2.60%, at 2,607.53 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 220.56 points, or 2.94%, at 7,722.94.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH.N), Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) and Carnival Corp (CCL.N) were among the top decliners after Berenberg slashed its price targets on cruise operators by about a third.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.32-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.49-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded five new highs and 20 new lows.

Reporting by Uday Sampath and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Sagarika Jasinghani and Anil D’Silva



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