Stocks rallied Wednesday as positive comments from Dr. Fauci helped spark investor optimism, even as the number of U.S. cases topped 400,000. Areas of the market that have been hit the hardest since the coronavirus pandemic began, including energy, airline and cruise companies, fueled the major averages' gains. Stocks also got a boost after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race.
- Dow closed up 344 points above 23,000 for the first time since March 13
- Dow is down 17.89% this year, on pace for its worst year since 2008 when the Dow lost 33.64%
- Nasdaq Composite closed above 8,000 for the first time since March 10
- Nasdaq Composite is down 9.83% this year, on pace for its worst year since 2008 when the Nasdaq lost 40.54%
- S&P 500 closed up 3.41% for its 2nd positive day in 3
- S&P 500 is down 14.88% this year on pace for its worst year since 2008 when the S&P lost 38.49%
- Sectors: 11 out of 11 sectors were positive today led by Real Estate up 7.41% — Francolla, Fitzgerald
The recent rally in stocks has the major three average all more than 20% from their March lows. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 28.7% from its 52-week low on March 23. The S&P 500 is up more than 25% from its March low and the Nasdaq Composite is up 22% from its low on March 23. — Fitzgerald
The Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) gained 4.6% on Wednesday after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race. Sanders, if elected, vowed to take on the pharmaceutical industry and his biggest proposal, "Medicare for All," would end private health insurance like that provided by United Healthcare, which rose 8% on Wednesday. Johnson & Johnson rose more than 4%, Pfizer gained nearly 3% and Merck & Co. rallied 3.9%. —Fitzgerald
U.S. stocks closed at session highs on Wednesday in a day bolstered by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropping out of the presidential race. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 772 points or 3.4%. The 30-stock average closed above 23,000 for the first time since March 13. The S&P 500 gained 3.38% and the Nasdaq Composite rallied 2.58%. —Fitzgerald
3:57 pm: Cuban says coronavirus will end up improving capitalism with companies putting employees first
Capitalism will become more "compassionate" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban said Wednesday. "I think capitalism is going to become a lot smarter and a lot more compassionate because of what we're going through," Cuban said on CNBC's "Closing Bell." Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, said he thinks executives will now recognize that they need to put employees first. "It can't just be about shareholders," Cuban said. "In fact, you have to put employees ahead of shareholders." —Stankiewicz
Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban isn't convinced that the swift market rally is here to stay. "I'm surprised. I think this is kind of buy the rumor and potentially we sell the news when reality sets in of what we are going to see what's on the other side," Cuban said on CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Wednesday. "I think people are naturally optimistic right now in terms of the market. I just don't think they're really factoring in what we're going to see on the other side." Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, revealed that he hasn't bought any stocks in two weeks and is "trying to get more cash."— Li
Luckin Coffee's stock was up 0.9% in premarket trading Tuesday before it was halted at 9:15 a.m. Eastern time, and trading has yet to resume. There is no time limit for how long a stock can be halted for pending news. Luckin's shares have plummeted 83% since the company disclosed Thursday that its chief operating officer had fabricated sales in 2019. —Lucas
With less than 45 minutes left in the trading day on Wednesday, stocks were near their session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 720 points or 3.2%. Losses from Disney, Walmart and McDonald's capped the 30-stock average's gains. The S&P 500 rose 3.15% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 2.4%. — Fitzgerald
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's March meeting showed that the central bank's staff outlined two "plausible" paths the U.S. economy could take in 2020 depending on the coronavirus and the effectiveness of measures to contain its spread. In one scenario, economic activity would rebound in the second half of the year. But in a more severe second scenario, the economy would enter recession with a recovery "much slower to take hold and not materially under way until" 2021. "In both scenarios, inflation was projected to weaken, reflecting both the deterioration in resource utilization and sizable expected declines in consumer energy prices," the minutes read. — Franck
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped more than 8% in a sudden move toward the end of trading. The surge followed a report from Bloomberg News that OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, was discussing a massive cut that could reach 10 million barrels per day. The United States Oil Fund (USO), which tracks the price of oil, was halted for trading temporarily amid the wild activity into the end of the session. -- Stevens
The Fed will keep rates near zero until the economy has "weathered" the coronavirus impact, minutes released Wednesday showed. "With regard to monetary policy beyond this meeting, these participants judged that it would be appropriate to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to ¼ percent until policymakers were confident that the economy had weathered recent events and was on track to achieve the Committee's maximum employment and price stability goals," the minutes from the March 15 meeting said. - Melloy
The Federal Open Market Committee released minutes Wednesday of its March 15 meeting, during which it lowered its benchmark interest rate to near zero. The minutes reflected central bankers concerned about the impact the coronavirus was having on the economy. "All participants viewed the near-term U.S. economic outlook as having deteriorated sharply in recent weeks and as having become profoundly uncertain," the minutes said. - Cox
The Russell 2000 index has gained 3.8% in today's session, roughly double the rises by the Russell 1000, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite. Small caps have underperformed the bigger names this year as the coronavirus sell-off took a bigger bite out of smaller companies. Bank of America said in a note Wednesday that the Russell 2000 was the cheapest relative to the Russell 1000 in nearly two decades. — Pound
Despite the market's blistering rally off the March 23 low, 88% of all stocks in the S&P 500 remain below their 200-day moving average. Overall, 443 stocks in the index are below their respective moving averages, according to FactSet. Some of these stocks include Boeing, Bank of America and Facebook. Apple and Amazon are among the names that have broken above their 200-day moving averages. — Imbert
Pinterest — Shares of Pinterest surged more than 11% after the company issued early guidance for its fiscal first quarter that beat analysts' expectations. The company said it expects revenue for its first quarter in the range of $269 million to $272 million.
Levi Strauss — The denim apparel company reported better-than-expected sales in Europe and the Americas and topped earnings forecasts for its first quarter, and its stock rose 10%.
PulteGroup, KB Home, Lennar — Shares of major U.S. home builders rebounded sharply, trimming their big losses this year. PulteGroup climbed over 10%, while KB Home and Lennar were up 11% and 9%, respectively.
Nordstrom — Shares of the retail chain jumped 9% after saying in a securities filing that the current quarter and beyond would be "adversely impacted in an significant manner" due to the pandemic.
Click here to read more midday movers on Wednesday. — Li
Nearly eight stocks traded higher for every decliner at the New York Stock Exchange as the broader market rallied. Overall, 2568 stocks rose at the NYSE while just over 300 traded lower. — Imbert
It could take 3 years before corporate profits regain their prior highs, according to Credit Suisse chief U.S. equity strategist Jonathan Golub. Golub said there have been 13 recessions since 1935, and on average it has taken 2.5 years before profits regained the prior peak in trailing 12-month earnings per share. The quickest comeback was two months, and the longest was 17 months. Golub notes it has historically taken twice as long for earnings to recover than GDP. He said he expects this earnings rebound to take 12 quarters even though the recession will be steeper than most because of the quick response by policy makers. —Domm
The major averages traded near their session highs around midday after Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race. Some of Sanders' policy proposals, including Medicare for All, raised concern among several business owners and investors who feared taxes would go up under his presidency. The Dow was up more than 500 points, or 2.5%. The S&P 500 gained 2.4% while the Nasdaq rallied 2%. Hope that the U.S. could start to turn a corner on the coronavirus outbreak in the near future also lifted equities. —Imbert
Confirmed cases of the coronavirus rose by 3,836 in Italy, the largest increase in three days. Italy reported 3,039 new cases yesterday. Investors have been closely watching the trajectory of the virus in Italy and other European countries to get a sense for how long lockdowns in major economies might last.
The country now has seen more than 139,000 confirmed cases of the virus. The number of patients in intensive care did, however, decline for the fifth consecutive day. — Pound, Reuters
12:10 pm: WTO director: Worst-case could see a Great Depression-like decline in global trade due to coronavirus
Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the World Trade Organization, told CNBC on Wednesday the coronavirus-induced economic halt could lead to a Great Depression-type pullback in global commerce in 2020. "The pessimistic scenario would see a decline in trade of around 32%. That's pretty much what we saw during the Great Depression of the 1930s over three years. We're seeing that in just one year," he warned in a "Squawk Alley" interview. In what he called a "positive scenario," Azevedo said trade could fall 13% in 2020, "which is about the same order of magnitude that we saw in 2008, 2009" during the financial crisis. — Belvedere
- Wells Fargo downgraded Disney to equal weight from overweight.
- Citi resumed coverage of Walmart at buy.
- Piper Sandler raised its price target on Apple to $300 from $260.
- Bank of America downgraded AutoZone to neutral from buy.
- Bernstein upgraded Twitter to market perform from underperform.
- Morgan Stanley upgraded British American Tobacco to overweight from equal weight.
- Wedbush upgraded Darden to outperform from neutral.
- JPMorgan downgraded Wayfair to underweight from neutral.
- JPMorgan lowered its price target on Apple to $335 from $350.
- DA Davidson initiated Planet Fitness as buy.
Raymond James' Washington policy strategist Ed Mills told CNBC that Sen. Sanders dropping out of the presidential race "removes the tail risk of some of his policies."
"Biden's policies will get a new scrutiny now he is the presumptive nominees, but the truth of the matter is that the market will be looking towards Washington more to help the economy and much of the assistance matches his platform. The true test is what additional regulation on ill-prepared industries will come on the backside of this crisis in a Democratic Administration," he added. - Franck, Stevens
Equities moved higher after Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 537 points, or 2.3%. The S&P 500 climbed 2.1% while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.9%. - Stevens
Sen. Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. After early triumphs in the Democratic primary, the independent from Vermont failed to pull away from former Vice President Joe Biden as a wide field dwindled. Sanders saw success from Iowa to New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado and California. — Pramuk
10:45 am: NYC sees slowing in coronavirus hospitalizations, city needs to 'double down' on suppression, Mayor de Blasio says
New York City has seen a slowing need for ventilators and a stabilized hospitalization rate for coronavirus cases — but the city should "double down" on efforts to suppress the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. De Blasio said there is a risk that coronavirus cases could begin to increase at a faster rate if residents do not adhere to social distancing and shelter-in-place policies. "We're now seeing some leveling off," de Blasio said at a press conference. "Something has started to move." De Blasio added, "We have to be careful not to take this initial information and make more of it than we should." New York City and surrounding counties in New York state have been the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. — Mangan, Higgins-Dunn, Feuer
- The retail ETF (XRT) is up 1.5% Wednesday and up 15.5% this week, on pace for its best week since Nov. 28, 2008 when the XRT gained 16.13%.
- Kohl's is up 58% this week, on pace for its best week ever back to its IPO in 1992.
- Wayfair is up 51.7% this week, on pace for its best week since Mar. 27 when Wayfair gained 69.97%
- Nordstrom is up 49% this week, on pace for its best week ever back to its IPO in July 1971, and its first positive week in 7. - Francolla, Fitzgerald
Tilman Fertitta is seeking a loan for his restaurant and casino chain Landry's, according to CNBC's David Faber. The billionaire investor is seeking between $250 million and $300 million with a rate of 13-14%. Raters were previously 4.5% in February. This is the first deal of significant in the high-yield market since the coronavirus pandemic began. It is expected to close today. - Stevens
The iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) is up 4.2% on Wednesday, on pace for its third straight day of gains. The ETF has risen 20.8% this week, headed for its best week since March 2009. Almost 89% of the ITB is up 11% or more this week. PulteGroup climbed over 28% this week, while KB Home and Lennar are up 27% and 25%, respectively. - Francolla, Li
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday that small businesses in the U.S. shouldn't worry about their ability to access some of the $350 billion in federal relief earmarked for firms with less than 500 employees. "I want to assure all small businesses out there: We will not run out of money," he said. "If you don't get a loan this week, you'll get a loan next week or the following week. The money will be there." Some small business owners worry about being left out of the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the massive $2 trillion relief package approved last month that aims to help small businesses cover salaries, wages and benefits. — Franck
Oil & Gas ETF (XOP) is up over 3.7%, on pace for its fifth straight positive day for the first time since Feb. 2019. Today's leaders include Apache, Noble Energy and Hess, all of which are up more than 5%. – Stevens, Francolla
Carson Block's Muddy Waters Research announced Wednesday on CNBC that the firm is short eHealth Inc., which owns a digital health insurance exchange. "It's a perfect storm of a new management that really wanted, in our view, to pump the stock," Block said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "From a legal perspective it's not a fraud. Intellectually, it's fraudulent." CNBC reached out to eHealth for comment but didn't hear back. Shares of eHealth fell about 17% after Block's disclosure. — Stankiewicz
Dr. Anthony Fauci told Fox News on Wednesday that expected coronavirus-related deaths could be fewer than previously forecast, and the beginning of a turnaround should occur after this week. Fauci is a top infectious disease expert who serves on the White House coronavirus task force. He added the task force is preparing plans to ease back into normal activity if coronavirus mitigation efforts are successful. - Li
Stocks opened higher across the board, more than making up for Tuesday's slight losses. The Dow rose 349 points for a gain of 1.5%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were up 1.4% and 1.4%, respectively. - Stevens
The dividend yield for S&P 500 stocks is safer during this crisis than in 2008, Bank of America's Savita Subramanian said on "Squawk Box." Subramanian currently has the lowest target for the index in CNBC's Market Strategist Survey, projecting a year-end level of 2,600. — Pound
McDonald's said Wednesday that its global same-store sales fell 22% in March as the coronavirus pandemic led the fast-food chain to close its dining rooms. In the two months ended Feb. 29, U.S. same-store sales grew by 8.1%. But thanks to domestic same-store sales plummeting 13% in March, the company expects first-quarter same-store sales growth in the U.S. of 0.1%. McDonald's international markets were hit even harder by the pandemic. Its international operated markets segment saw same-store sales plunge 34.7% in March. Shares slid about 1% during Wednesday's premarket trading. - Lucas
9:09 am: Barclays is the biggest bear on Wall Street and says there's a chance of an 'L-shaped' recovery
Barclays cut its year-end target on the S&P 500 to 2,500 from 3,000, representing the most bearish forecast on Wall Street, warning the coronavirus pandemic will cause economic damage worse than the financial crisis. "Equities have rallied significantly off their lows in late March as the growth rate of new infections continues to decline but estimates of economic damage are now worse than the 2008 GFC," said Maneesh Deshpande, head of equity derivatives strategy at Barclays. The bank's new target would translate into a 6% decline from current levels and a 22% loss for 2020. The strategist said the global shutdown and quarantine will likely take some time to be lifted even though signs are emerging that the pandemic could be abating. He sees a 10% probability for an L recovery and a 40% chance for a U recovery. - Li
Some of the stocks hardest hit in the coronavirus sell-off have notched strong gains in premarket trading. American Airlines rose 6.5%, with Delta and United also climbing more than 4%. Norwegian Cruise Line rose 5.8%, while Royal Caribbean and Carnival were both about 5% higher. Casino stock MGM Resorts also gained 3.8%. — Pound
Investors will get a better idea why Federal Reserve officials last month voted to slash their benchmark interest rate to near zero. Minutes from the March 15 emergency Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released Wednesday at 2 p.m. and will detail the decision-making behind the move. The original meeting date was March 17-18 but was moved up due to the coronavirus crisis. In addition to that meeting the FOMC also has held a series of unscheduled votes on other measures it has taken to aid markets and the economy during the period. – Cox
Oil prices moved higher on Wednesday, one day before OPEC+ is set to hold a virtual meeting to discuss possible production cuts. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 1.65% to trade at $24.02 per barrel, while international benchmark Brent crude rose 21 cents to $32.08. The move higher lifted the energy sector during Wednesday's premarket trading. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) gained 1.56%, with Devon Energy, Diamondback Energy, Marathon Oil and Apache all more than 4% higher. Exxon and Chevron, the U.S.' largest oil companies, were 2.1% and 1.3% higher, respectively. – Stevens
As the market has traded in mostly positive territory this week, investors are picking over the hardest hit sectors. Airline stocks were higher Wednesday, and there's been a trend this week where the sectors that had been hardest hit during the shutdown of the economy have been doing better than some of those that did best during state stay at home orders, like consumer staples. But as investors look for improvements in virus cases, strategists warn the market is likely to retest the lows of March 23. - Domm
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has surpassed 400,000, according to figures provided by NBC, with 12,864 fatalities nationwide. NBC's count is slightly higher than that of Johns Hopkins University, which counted 399,929 cases as of Wednesday morning.
The number of daily coronavirus deaths rose in Spain for the second day as 757 people died over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said. On Tuesday, the death toll had risen by 743 from the previous day. The total number of fatalities has risen to 14,555, the ministry said. The overall number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 146,690 up from 140,510 on Tuesday, it added.
There are now more than 1,446,500 cases worldwide, and at least 82,992 deaths. – Stevens
Tesla will cut pay for all of its salaried employees and will furlough hourly workers until May 4, when it intends to resume production of electric cars, according to an internal e-mail that multiple employees shared with CNBC. The pay reductions are expected to be in place until the end of the second quarter.
Health orders, implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19, forced Elon Musk's electric car company to wind down production at its main vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California. Shares of Tesla gained 1.5% in Wednesday's premarket trading. - Kolodny
Billionaire investor Howard Marks, who a few months ago warned peers to use extreme caution, now thinks it's time to ease up on defense. The Oaktree Capital co-founder said that a number of conditions in the market have changed in recent weeks that make risk assets more attractive. "Given these new conditions, I no longer feel defense should be favored," Marks said in one of his widely-read memos. He adds: "The risks in the environment are recognized and largely understood." — Franck
U.S. stock index futures are pointing to modest gains at the opening bell, after a volatile overnight trading session that saw swings between gains and losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to open 88 points, or 0.37%, higher, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 are set to rise 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
Stocks closed little changed on Tuesday, but the numbers themselves disguise the action in the session. The Dow swung nearly 985 points from its high to low, before closing 26 points lower. Investors cheered positive coronavirus headlines and some of the sectors that have been hit the hardest since the pandemic began — such as airlines and cruise lines — moved sharply higher. But by the final hour of trading sentiment shifted and stocks gave back their gains.
Given Monday's rally, the major averages are all still up more than 6% for the holiday-shortened week. - Stevens
- CNBC's Maggie Fitzgerald, Patti Domm, Yun Li, Kevin Stankiewicz, Gina Francolla, Nate Rattner, Michael Bloom, Matthew Belvedere, Amelia Lucas and Jeff Cox contributed reporting.
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