Stocks finished sharply higher Wednesday as Wall Street weighed a leveling off of coronavirus infections in certain hot spots and efforts by the Trump administration to restart a U.S. economy hobbled by the pandemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 779 points, or 3.44%, to 23,433, the S&P 500 gained 3.41% and the Nasdaq rose 2.58%.
UnitedHealth UNH led the Dow’s advance and other healthcare stocks rose after Bernie Sanders, a proponent of Medicare for all, ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.
On Tuesday U.S. equities closed slightly to the downside, erasing sharp gains from earlier in the session. The Dow, which had been up 937 points, or 4%, at its session high, on Tuesday had finished down 26 points, or 0.12%, to 22,653.86. The S&P 500 fell 0.16% and the Nasdaq ended down 0.33%.
Google banned videoconferencing specialist Zoom Video from its employees’ devices, Buzzfeed reported. Use of the service has exploded since the coronavirus pandemic has forced employees to work from home. Zoom is a competitor to Google’s own Meet app.
Optimism earlier this week for a “flattening of the curve” in global infection rates has begun to fade, while doubts about when the U.S. can reopen its $22 trillion economy have surfaced. The Trump administration has been readying plans to put the country, stalled by the pandemic, back into action.
Reopening the U.S. economy would depend on a number of factors, but wider coronavirus testing availability would be a critical component, according to experts.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump was “working on a date” for ramping up the U.S. economy.
“We aren’t out of the woods,” said Nancy Davis, chief investment officer of Quadratic Capital and portfolio manager of the IVOL exchange-traded fund. “If it seems like we’re out of the woods, it’s only because we’re like Goldilocks and we’ve just gone into the bears’ cabin.
“Now we find out if all the policy measures are too much, too little or just right. Depending on how much earnings drop, the market could be still expensive. It’s all a question of when the economy reopens and how quickly that happens. There are disruptions everywhere in supply chains. It will take time to get everything going again. We will restart the economy and when we do, I think things will roar back,” Davis added.
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday in its minutes from its emergency March 15 meeting that “all participants viewed the near-term U.S. economic outlook as having deteriorated sharply in recent weeks and as having become profoundly uncertain.” The Fed lowered rates at the meeting to essentially zero.
The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 1,495,051, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 87,469.
The U.S. has 419,975 cases of the coronavirus, the most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE. Deaths in the U.S. have risen to 14,463.