Stock market live Thursday: Among best weeks in history, Dow and S&P 500 jump 12%, thank the Fed

The Federal Reserve boosts efforts to save the US economy from coronavirus peril
The Federal Reserve boosts efforts to save the US economy from coronavirus peril

Stocks rallied again on Thursday, the last trading day of the week due to the Good Friday holiday. The S&P 500's 1.45% jump on Friday came after the Federal Reserve announced a $2.3 trillion effort to boost local governments and small and mid-sized businesses in its latest move to keep the U.S. economy intact as the country battles the coronavirus crisis. The gains on Thursday helped the S&P 500 notch its best week since 1974; the Dow clinched its 7th-best week ever.

4:20 pm: Rally by the numbers

  • S&P closed up 1.45% for its third positive day in four
  • S&P closed up 12.1% this week, for its best week since Oct 11, 1974 when the S&P gained 14.12%
  • S&P is still down 13.65% year to date, on pace for its worst year since 2008 when the S&P lost 38.49%
  • S&P is 17.79% below its intraday all-time high of 3,393.52 from Feb 19
  • S&P is 27.28% off its 52-week low of 2,191.86 on March 23
  • Dow closed up 1.22% for its third positive day in four
  • Dow closed up 12.67% this week, for its best week since Mar 27 when the Dow gained 12.84%
  • Dow is still down 16.89% year to date, on pace for its worst year since 2008 when the Dow lost 33.64%
  • Dow is 19.78% below its intraday all-time high of 29,568.57 from Feb 12 
  • Dow is 30.23% off its 52-week low of 18,213.65 on March 23
  • Sectors: 10 out of 11 sectors were positive Thursday led by Financials up 5.19% — Francolla

4:00 pm: S&P 500 jumps more than 1%, caps best week since 1974

The S&P 500 finished the session up 1.45% at 2,789.82 and notched its best week since 1974 with a rally of 12.1%. The broad market's rise on Friday was led by a 5.2% rise in real estate investment trusts and a similar 5.2% jump in financials. The Dow industrials added 285.8 points, or 1.2%, as J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs combined added over 100 points to the blue-chip index. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.77% and rallied 10.59% for the week. — Franck

3:10 pm: Fed is cutting back on asset purchases next week

The Federal Reserve will be cutting back on the pace of its asset purchases next week. Where the central bank had been buying about $50 billion a week in Treasurys, it will be doing an average of $32 billion per day from April 13-17. Its mortgage-backed securities purchases will decline from $25 billion a day to about $15 billion. Despite the pullback, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said earlier Thursday that the central bank is "in no hurry" to reduce its purchases. — Cox

3:00 pm: Final hour of trading: S&P 500 heads for best week since 2008

With roughly one hour left in the trading session, the major averages were headed for strong weekly gains. The S&P 500 was up 0.75% for the day and about 11.3% week to date, putting it on pace for its best weekly performance since 2008. The Dow was up 0.6%, or 150 points, while the Nasdaq traded just lower. For the week, the Dow was up 12% while the Nasdaq had gained 9.6%. — Imbert

2:46 pm: Oil drops 9%, giving back early double-digit gain as traders await OPEC cut details

U.S. oil dropped more than 9% on Thursday, giving back an earlier gain of more than 12%, as the Street awaited details on production cuts from OPEC and its allies, a coalition known as OPEC+. An extraordinary meeting between the oil-producing nations, which kicked off around 10:45 a.m. ET, is ongoing. Producers were reportedly open to scaling back production in an effort to prop up falling oil prices, though traders were skeptical that the group could reach an agreement on a cut large enough to combat the coronavirus-induced demand decline. U.S. West Texas Intermediate fell 9.29%, or $2.33, to settle at $22.76 per barrel. Earlier, the contract jumped more than 12% to hit a session high of $28.36. International benchmark Brent crude slipped 4.5% to trade at $31.35, after earlier hitting a high of $36.40. — Stevens

2:30 pm: UK Prime Minister Johnson released from intensive care

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson left intensive care on Thursday after being admitted for coronavirus treatment. The Conservative Party leader announced on March 27 that he had contracted the virus, making him the first major world leader known to have contracted the virus. He was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital in London for "some routine tests" 10 days later and moved to the hospital's intensive care unit on Monday afternoon symptoms worsened. A spokesman said a Johnson is now in "extremely good spirits." — Franck

1:50 pm: Crude oil gives up 12% gain, turns negative as traders await OPEC cut details

Oil prices turned negative, giving back a more than 12% gain, as the Street awaited details on possible production cuts from OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+. Stocks cut a small amount of their gains when the commodity tanked but the Dow is still up more than 400 points. WTI crude last traded around $24.60 per barrel. —Stevens, Fitzgerald 

1:20 pm: Jobless claims during coronavirus outbreak at recession levels

Jobless claims continued to pile up at a record-setting pace on Thursday, with a reported 6.6 million more Americans filing initial unemployment claims last week. That brings the three-week total during the coronavirus outbreak to 16.8 million, a figure greater than or about equal to the cumulative claims made throughout recessions in 1969, 1980, 1990, and 2001. — Rattner

1:18 pm: American Airlines, Starbucks among stocks making biggest moves midday

Major stocks in several battered sectors including travel and retail were among the biggest winners in midday trading. American Airlines and several department stores saw their stock prices rise by more than 10% on Thursday. A few energy stocks also saw big jumps as the market awaits final word on cuts from OPEC. — Pound

1:10 pm: NYSE advancers lead decliners 13-1

About 13 stocks advanced at the New York Stock Exchange for every decliner as the market closed out a historic week of gains. Overall, 2,747 stocks traded higher while 202 declined, FactSet data shows. —Imbert

11:55 am: Markets at midday: Dow heads for best week in more than 80 years

Around midday, the Dow was up more than 400 points, or 1.9%. That rally put the 30-stock average up more than 13% for the week, which would be its biggest weekly gain since 1938. Those gains come after the Fed announced as slew of programs, including loans geared towards small and medium sized businesses, that will total up to $2.3 trillion. —Imbert

11:47 am: Cashin: Fed gives the stock market 'breath of fresh air'

The Federal Reserve's $2.3 trillion worth of loan commitments to help businesses and state and local governments survive the coronavirus crisis provided the stock market a "breath of fresh air," trader Art Cashin said on CNBC on Thursday. However, the UBS veteran told "Squawk Alley" he does not expect a so-called V-shaped — quick down, quick up — recovery on Wall Street. Cashin said he sees a longer time spent at lower levels in the form of a U-shaped or even an L-shaped trajectory. — Stankiewicz, Belvedere

11:16 am: High Yield bond fund sees biggest gain since 2008

Both the iShares High Yield Corporate Bond ETF and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond ETF rose more than 7% in early trading on Thursday. That put the iShares fund on pace for its best day since Oct. 13, 2008, when it gained 12.28%. The SPDR fund was on track for its best day since Christmas Eve, 2008, when it rose 7.41%.

The moves came after the Fed announced that it could purchase high yield bonds as part of its $2.3 trillion effort to bolster the economy. The funds have retreated slightly and last traded up about 6.3%. — Pound

10:55 am: Markets rebounded big this week and analysts see more buying opportunities, including Starbucks and Raytheon

  • Citi resumed Starbucks as buy
  • JPMorgan upgraded Big Lots to neutral from underweight.
  • Bank of America downgraded Starbucks to neutral from buy.
  • Jefferies downgraded Anthem to hold from buy.
  • Citi resumed coverage of Xerox as sell from buy.
  • UBS downgraded UPS to neutral from buy.
  • Morgan Stanley downgraded Eli Lilly to equal weight from overweight.
  • Nomura raised its price target on Apple to $240 from $225.
  • UBS resumed coverage of Raytheon as buy. — Bloom

10:44 am: Oil prices surge after report of Russia-Saudi deal

U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures jumped 12% to $28.36 per barrel after Reuters reported that Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to a production cut. The report, citing two OPEC sources, said total cuts could reach 20 million barrels per day. OPEC and its allies are holding a virtual meeting Thursday to discuss slashing production as energy demand falls around the world. European benchmark Brent crude rose 8.5%. — Stevens, Pound

10:35 am: Democrats block GOP effort for unanimous support of $250 billion in additional small business aid

Stocks came off their highs after Democrats in Congress blocked a Republican effort for unanimous support for $250 billion in small-business aid. The bill would have poured the billions into help for small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. With lawmakers out of Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to move the measure by unanimous consent. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., objected to the request. The Dow was on pace for its best week since 1938 before the bill was blocked. — Fitzgerald, Pramuk

10:30 am: Powell says Fed won't hesitate to support other areas in need

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank is willing to support other areas in need amid the coronavirus crisis, after the Fed announced a new $2.3 trillion financing initiative directed at small and larger businesses as well as households and state and local governments.

"As we identify other areas, we won't hesitate to move into those areas. In addition, we may find that some of the programs we have announced need adjusting and need to be larger … or need to be changed, we will be watching all of that and [are] very much willing to adapt," Powell said during a webinar for the Brookings Institution Thursday. - Li

10:20 am: Consumer sentiment falls, missing low expectations

Consumer sentiment has plunged over the past month, according to a preliminary report from the University of Michigan. The consumer sentiment index came in at 71.0, down from 89.1 in March. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a print of 75.0.

The 18.1-point drop is the biggest monthly decline on record for the index. Survey of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtain said in a statement that sentiment about current conditions declined more sharply than expectations about future conditions.

"This suggests that the free-fall in confidence would have been worse were it not for the expectation that the infection and death rates from covid-19 would soon peak and allow the economy to restart," Curtain said. — Pound

10:10 am: Powell says economic recovery could be 'robust'

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the economy recovery following the coronavirus-induced shutdown "can be robust" despite the sharp downturn.

Powell spoke during a webinar for the Brookings Institution. In prepared remarks, Powell said, "When the spread of the virus is under control, businesses will reopen, and people will come back to work. There is every reason to believe that the economic rebound, when it comes, can be robust." — Cox, Pound

9:57 am: Stock gains accelerate, continue strong week

The Dow climbed to trade about 450 points, 1.9%, higher on Thursday morning. The gains in early trading continue a rally for stocks this week, with all three major U.S. indexes gaining double digits.

The Dow has now surged about 13.5% since Monday. The S&P 500 has now gained more than 12% this week, and the Nasdaq has climbed roughly 11.4%. — Pound

9:42 am: Stocks surge at open, Dow up over 300

The major indexes all opened higher after the Federal Reserve announced a $2.3 trillion program to help support the economy. The Dow gained 377 points, or about 1.6%, in early trading. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.7% and 1.2%, respectively. — Pound

9:35 am: High yield bonds surge after Fed steps in

The iShares ETF that tracks high yield corporate bonds climbed 6.6% after the Fed announced a new facility that could buy ETFs of high yield bonds. Some strategists thought the Fed would stay clear of high yield corporate debt, including John Briggs, head of strategy at NatWest.

"The main street stuff looks good. I just didn't think they'd venture into junk bond etfs. It's just going to be who's next to complain," Briggs said.

The possible move by the central bank into riskier assets will likely fuel speculation that the Fed could buy equities during this crisis.

"It worries me they are going further down the capital structure every week," Briggs said. Does it mean the numbers they're seeing that bad?" — Pound, Domm

9:10 am: Cramer: 'The Fed is on its game'

Following the Federal Reserve's announcement of $2.3 trillion in programs to backstop the reeling U.S. economy amid the coronavirus crisis, CNBC's Jim Cramer said he is impressed by the central bank's energetic actions.

"This Fed is the most aggressive Fed. They do not want to be known as the reason why we went into a depression," Cramer said on "Squawk Box" on Thursday. "I'm very impressed. The Fed is on its game and this is what is needed because we've got to fight off a depression, we've got to get America open for business." — Fitzgerald

9:08 am: Fed announces details of $2.3 trillion program, Main Street lending

The Fed announced details for its lending program aimed at smaller businesses on Thursday as part of a larger effort to support the economy during the pandemic.

The total program — which includes Main Street lending, payroll protection and other measures aimed at supporting small business and state and local governments — could total $2.3 trillion, the central bank said.

The Main Street loans would be geared toward businesses with up to 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenues for 2019, and would be for between $1 million and $25 million, with some restrictions. The total dollar amount for that program is $600 billion. — Cox, Pound

8:47 am: Jobless claims continue record pace

This week's reading of initial jobless claims came in at 6.6 million, the Labor Department announced Thursday. The expected claims for the week ending April 4 were 5 million.

This is the third consecutive week of initial jobless claims in the millions, which had never happened before the coronavirus crisis. This brings the total initial claims over the last three weeks to more than 16 million, in a labor force of more than 164 million Americans. — Pound

8:15 am: Pfizer up 1% after report says it has identified lead virus drug candidate

Pfizer shares rose before the opening bell Thursday morning after research-and-development chief Mikael Dolsten told the Wall Street Journal that laboratory results have identified a promising, but early drug candidate to fight the novel coronavirus. Dolsten told the Journal that the drug works by inhibiting the disease from replicating, suggesting the experimental drug could slow or stop the spread of the disease. The drug candidate is still in early stages and human testing will be required for ultimate proof it works and is ready for widespread administration. Pfizer shares rose 1.1% in premarket trading. —Franck

8:10 am: Trump says he wants to reopen economy with a 'big bang'

President Donald Trump said at a White House news briefing Wednesday evening that the U.S. economy could be reopened in phases as the coronavirus pandemic recedes but that "it would be nice to open with a big bang." The administration is eager to restart the areas of the economy that have been ground to a halt by the deadly pandemic. However, Trump cautioned that he's relying on medical experts' opinion and "we have to be on the down side of the slope" of the outbreak before reopening the economy. — Li

8:08 am: Starbucks down 3% after second-quarter profit warning

The price of Starbucks stock fell more than 3% in premarket trading Thursday after the coffee company said on Wednesday that it expects fiscal second-quarter earnings to be about half of what they were a year ago due to the spread of COVID-19 in China and the U.S. Starbucks said it expected adjusted earnings of 28 cents to 32 cents a share for the second quarter, down from 60 cents a share in the second quarter of 2019. "These estimates reflect the impact of lost sales for the period as well as incremental expenses for partner wages and benefits, store operations and other activities related to the COVID-19 outbreak," the company said.
Bank of America analyst Gregory Francfort downgraded the stock to neutral on Thursday following the release. He writes: "We are concerned consumer purchasing will come out of the back of Covid-19 in a far more fragile state. We expected tempered purcahses of more discretionary purchases including premium beverages." — Franck

7:57 am: Bank of America recording reveals a Wall Street torn between precaution and performance amid virus

On a March 25 conference call with Bank of America's equity and equity derivatives traders, the bank's global head of equities, Fabrizio Gallo, laid out the stakes for those considering staying at home, especially if the crisis lasted for an extended amount of time. "At some point in time, one has to make a decision," said Gallo to the group assembled on the phone. "And the reason why it's called critical function is because we have a critical requirement by senior-ups to provide proper and orderly markets. And we cannot provide proper and orderly markets if 99% of the population decides they don't feel comfortable." The recording obtained by CNBC's Scott Wapner underscored Wall Street's balancing act between precaution and performance amid the pandemic. –Wapner, Li

7:52 am: Cruise and airline stocks continue strong week

Cruiselines and airlines, which took some of the biggest hits during the sell-off as global travel demand cratered, were pushing higher in premarket trading to continue a recent stretch of solid days. American Airlines and United have both risen more than 2% in premarket trading after posting double-digit gains on Wednesday. Delta rose 3.1% after climbing 4.4% Wednesday.Royal Caribbean has gained 2.6% in premarket trading and is up more than 50% for the week. Carnival and Norwegian both rose more than 3%. —Pound

7:50 am: Disney shares jump premarket after Disney+ tops 50 million subscribers

Shares of Disney rose more than 5% in premarket trading after the media company said that Disney+, its new video streaming service, now has more than 50 million subscribers. That's almost twice as many as Disney reported on February 4, when it said in its first quarter earnings report that Disney+ reached 26.5 million subscribers during the quarter. The jump has been driven by global stay-at-home orders, as well as the introduction of the service in India where 8 million people have signed up. While Disney is benefiting from more people being home, the stock is down about 30% this year as the company has been forced to close its parks. —Fitzgerald

7:48 am: Jobless claims expected to jump by 5 million

Economists polled by Dow Jones expect weekly jobless claims to surge by another 5 million as the coronavirus outbreak continues to ravage the U.S. economy. An increase of that magnitude would build on the prior two readings of 3.3 million and 6.6 million, both of which were records. —Imbert

7:42 am: Dow up nearly 30% from March low

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 28.66% 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. The three averages are still 20.75%, 18.96% and 17.75% down from their February high, respectively.This week the Dow is up 11.3% heading into its last trading day of the week. The S&P 500 is up 10.5% this week and the Nasdaq Composite gained 9.74% since Monday. —Fitzgerald

7:36 am: Stock futures slide ahead of weekly jobless claims

U.S. stock futures dipped on Thursday — the last trading day of the week — as investors braced for the latest U.S. unemployment data. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down about 150 points, or 0.7%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also fell. The move lower comes after a rip higher on Wednesday, which put the Dow and S&P 500 both up more than 10% for the week. —Imbert

— CNBC's Yun Li, Scott Wapner and Tom Franck contributed reporting.

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