NEW YORK – U.S. equity markets gained Friday as lawmakers continued to work towards hammering out a third coronavirus stimulus package.
The third package would guarantee low-interest loans for small businesses, give cash payments to most Americans, provide loans to the industries hardest hit by the virus-related slowdown and extend funding to hospitals and medical centers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 134 points, or 0.7 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 1.01 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
Dow heavyweight Boeing saw some relief after four days of declines that erased 43 percent of its market value. On Thursday evening, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley resigned from the aerospace giant’s board.
Airlines, cruise operators, casino operators and other industries ravaged by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic also saw big gains.
Elsewhere, General Electric surged after receiving regulatory approval to forge ahead with the $21.4 billion sale of its biopharmaceutical unit to Danaher, so long as some conditions are met.
Walmart shares gained after the company said it would hire 150,000 temporary workers to handle a spike in traffic caused by the pandemic. Meanwhile, retailer Ross Stores announced it was shutting sites across the U.S. through April 3..
Blue-chip tech stocks also pushed higher, with Tesla in focus after the electric-vehicle maker said it would idle production at its Fremont, California, plant beginning March 24.
Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil was trading down 1.9 percent at $25.42 per barrel. Despite the losses, drillers and explorers that have been decimated by oil’s price drop saw some relief after a rally on Thursday.
Heavy buying of U.S. Treasurys flattened the yield curve, but banks still gained. The 2-year yield fell by 3.7 basis points to 0.384 percent while the 10-year yield was lower by 13.7 bps at 0.992 percent.
In Europe, markets rallied across the board with France’s CAC gaining 4.4 percent, Germany’s DAX climbing 3.8 percent and Britain’s FTSE adding 2 percent.
Asian markets were sharply higher, with South Korea’s Kospi surging 7.4 percent, bouncing off an 11-year low, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and China’s Shanghai Composite were up 5.1 percent and 1.6 percent,
By Jonathan Garber