U.S. equities rallied on Friday between a report that says a Gilead Sciences drug has again appeared to be an effective coronavirus treatment and the White House's move to start to relax business closure recommendations. Though Gilead cautioned that anecdotal reports don't prove efficacy, hopes that we may soon have a reliable therapy ushered traders into equities on the week's final day of trading. President Trump also issued a process for the economy to reopen. Here's what happened:
Stocks rallied in the final half hour of trading to close right around session highs. The Dow rose 704 points for a gain of 2.99%, pushed higher by Boeing which surged 14.55%. The S&P 500 gained 2.68%, while the Nasdaq rose 1.38%. All major averages finished the week higher, posting two consecutive weeks of gains for the first time since February. The Dow closed above 24,000 for the first time since March 10. – Stevens
Stocks staged a rally in the final half hour of trading with the Dow jumping more than 600 points for a gain of 2.57%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose 2.3% and 1.1%, respectively. All three are on track for their second straight week of gains. – Stevens
The Federal Reserve is scaling back its bond buying as recent operations have helped open up a market that had been under substantial pressure. According to its schedule listed Friday, the New York Fed will be buying an average of about $15 billion a day next week, down from the $25 billion it had been doing over the past week. The central bank will also be stepping back its mortgage-backed securities operations to about $10 billion from about $15 billion this week. Total purchases had been running around $50 billion a week prior to the recent reductions. Buying in the most recent round has taken the Fed's holdings on its balance sheet past $6.4 trillion, an increase of more than $2.1 trillion since early March. – Cox
With roughly one hour left in the trading session, stocks were up across the board on hopes of a possible coronavirus treatment. The S&P 500 and Dow were up more than 1% each while the Nasdaq traded 0.3% higher. Friday's gains put the S&P 500 up 1.9% for the week and on pace for its first back-to-back weekly gain since February. — Imbert
Through the first two weeks of earnings season, corporate profits are on track for their worst quarter since mid-2009. With 9% of the S&P 500, the projected earnings decline is 14.5%, which would be the biggest drop since the third quarter of 2009 as the Great Recession was coming to a close, according to FactSet. Revenue actually is doing much better, indicating a 0.6% gain. Some 66% of companies have beaten on bottom-line earnings, which is below the typical rate. Virtually no one is providing forward guidance at this point, with just three companies issuing a positive outlook and no firms guiding lower. The stock market rally over the past three weeks combined with lower earnings has taken the price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 to 18.5, not far below the mid-February level of 19 where it traded before a steep slide ended the longest bull market run in history. – Cox
More than five stocks traded higher for every decliner at the New York Stock Exchange as the market jumped to end the week. Overall, 2,466 NYSE-listed stocks rose while 445 fell, FactSet data shows. —Imbert
Scott Minerd, Guggenheim's chief investment officer, said that the S&P 500 could fall 57% to 1,200, according to a Bloomberg report. Minerd said that unemployment could spike as high as 17%, and that shutdowns could continue for the next two years, the report said. On Friday the S&P 500 traded around 2,842, about 30% above its March 23 low. – Stevens
Morgan Stanley chief U.S. economist Ellen Zentner said on CNBC's "The Exchange" that lingering economic effects from the virus will prevent a sharp snapback.
"When you mark down forecasts from economists on paper, it looks like a 'V.' There's no getting around it," Zentner said. "But it's got to be the weakest 'V' I've ever seen, and it doesn't at all properly convey just how dampened growth will be on the other side of this."
She said that cautious household spending in the face of an uncertain economic environment, as well as restaurants and businesses reopening in limited capacity will hamper the economy's effort to bounce back. Zentner did say that the economy could start to improve soon, however.
"We are moving through the worst of it now, and households are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel," Zentner said. — Pound
Check out the companies making headlines in midday trading on Friday:
Boeing — Shares of the aerospace company jumped more than 12% after Boeing said it would resume commercial aircraft production at its Seattle-area plant as early as Monday, with social distancing policies in place. Shares of the plane manufacturer have shed 54% this year.
Apple — The iPhone maker slid more than 2% after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to a sell rating. The firm cut its forecast for Apple for the third time since February, saying it's "now modeling a deeper reduction in unit demand through mid-2020 and then a shallower recovery into early 2021." Goldman also cut its price target from $250 to $233, which is roughly 16% below where the stock currently trades.
Read about the rest of the companies making headlines here. —Franck
Charlie Munger, vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett's longtime business partner, said the conglomerate's phone has not been ringing with corporate executives begging for rescue capital as the coronavirus outbreak has left everyone in shock and confused about what their next step will be. "Everybody's just frozen," Munger told The Wall Street Journal. "Take the airlines. They don't know what the hell's doing." —Imbert
Around midday, the major averages were up sharply as a report on a Gilead drug raised hope for a potential coronavirus treatment. The Dow traded about 400 points higher, or 1.7%. The S&P 500 gained 1.5% while the Nasdaq advanced 0.6%. Friday's gains put the S&P 500 on pace for its first back-to-back weekly increase since February. —Imbert
The total number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus in New York declined again on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, the fourth straight day of net declines. The number of new patients entering hospitals has stayed flat at around 2,000 per day Cuomo said. New York suffered 630 deaths on Thursday, similar to the number of deaths in the prior days. — Pound
Several pharmaceutical and medical stocks hit new 52-week intraday highs on Friday morning. Incyte rose to its highest levels since January 2018, and Regeneron hit its highest mark since December 2015. Abbott Labs, Centene, Eli Lilly and Vertex Pharma set new all-time highs. — Francolla, Pound
The stock market gave up some of its early gains as losses in major tech stocks Apple and Amazon weighed on market averages. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 400 points, or 1.7%, after trading up by as much as 600 points earlier in the session. Tech and entertainment stocks that have been beneficiaries of people staying home, including Amazon, Netflix and Activision-Blizzard, have fallen amid rising optimism that medical breakthroughs could allow the economy to reopen. — Pound
Legacy automaker Ford Motor said in a securities filing that it expects to report a $2 billion net loss for its fiscal first quarter. CFO Tim Stone said in a release that the company has enough cash to last "at least the end of the third quarter with no incremental vehicle production and wholesales or financing actions." Ford said earlier in the week that it expected a roughly 16% decline in revenue for the quarter. Shares of Ford were up 2.3% on Friday morning. — Wayland, Pound
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard called Friday for subsidizing costs to companies that produce coronavirus tests. "That would end the crisis," the central bank official said during a panel discussion. He also said the unemployment rate could rise as high as 42% – worse even the previous dismal scenario the St. Louis Fed economists have projected – but he also said he sees a strong recovery on the other side. – Cox
Jeff Kilburg, CEO of KKM Financial, said Friday there is a "global sense of urgency" in the biotechnology sector that can lift that group in the near future. "Back in late March, when you saw a lot of turmoil, we actually bought IBB," said Kilburg on CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange," referring to the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF. "Some of these names which maybe fell out of favor going into an election year … are all the sudden back in favor," Kilburg added. "You're seeing Gilead this morning with a really nice pop, but a high tide lifts all boats." —Imbert
Shares of Gap jumped more than 9% in early trading to lead big retail stocks higher amid optimism about the U.S. economy possibly reopening sooner than expected. Gap's stock is still down more than 50% for the year. Macy's, Nordstrom and Kohl's also rose more than the broader market on Friday. — Pound
The Dow's early gain of more than 500 points puts the 30-stock average above 24,000. If the Dow holds these gains, it would mark its first close above 24,000 since March 10, when it closed at 25,018. — Imbert
Shares of Simon Property Group led the S&P 500 higher, gaining more than 12% on Friday. The largest mall owner in the U.S. has been beaten down due to the coronavirus shutdown as retail struggles. The REIT's stock is down more than 64% this year. However, hopes of a coronavirus treatment and a reopening of the economy is boosting shares. — Fitzgerald
Boeing shares were up more than 8% after the aerospace giant said aircraft production would resume at its Seattle-area facility as early as Monday. The company had suspended production three weeks ago amid stay-at-home orders in Washington state. Friday's jump put Boeing on pace for its best day since April 6. — Imbert, Josephs
The Dow jumped 600 points immediately after the opening bell only to pare back its gain to around 500 points a few minutes later. The S&P 500 rose 1.8% to around 2,850 and came within one point of touching its 50-day moving average in its rally just after the start of regular trading. Boeing led the Dow higher with a 9.7% pop; Home Depot claimed the No. 2 spot and added more than 50 points. — Franck
New York Federal Reserve President John Williams warned on Friday that the U.S. economy is unlikely to fully recover by the end of 2020. The New York Fed chief said industries like construction should be the first to come back. "I expect that to be able to bounce back a little bit more quickly than maybe some of the other sectors," Williams told CNBC's Steve Liesman. "But I don't see the economy getting back to full strength by the end of the year." — Cox, Franck
Dow industrials futures pointed to a 600-point gain with 15 minutes left before the opening bell. S&P 500 futures suggested a 2.2% jump as equities moved off their premarket highs after New York Federal Reserve President John Williams warned that economic growth in the U.S. is unlikely to return to normal through 2020. — Franck
Moderna jumped nearly 20% in the premarket after the biotechnology company received $483 million in federal funding aimed at a coronavirus vaccine development. CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC's "Squawk Box" the funding is particularly critical in aiding manufacturing efforts. "Instead of waiting for the data and then scaling up with manufacturing process ... we can make as many doses as we can. We are doing both in parallel," he said. —Imbert, Stankiewicz
President Donald Trump has issued a three-stage process for the economy to reopen slowly as the coronavirus recovery process begins. In an 18-page plan titled "Opening Up America Again," the White House sees some states coming online before others. The first phase sees some companies open while vulnerable individuals continue to shelter in place and social distancing continues. The second envisions further loosening so long as there's no evidence of a rebound in Covid-19 cases. Finally, the plan still calls for precautions for vulnerable individuals but a more aggressive return to normal for most aspects of the economy. — Cox
Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes pointed to strong gains at the opening bell as investor optimism over the prospects of a Gilead Sciences drug treatment for the novel coronavirus ushered traders into equities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was poised to soar some 740 points while S&P 500 futures suggested a pop of about 2.8%. — Franck
CNBC's Jim Cramer said on Twitter last night that Gilead Sciences drug remdisivir being effective in treating coronavirus would give the economy a "fighting chance." "Every large S&P name is screaming but also the banks that are so hated...," Cramer said in another tweet. "I think that remdesivir would cut the morbidity .. which would change how quickly we can open... and what we can do." Cramer said in late March that investors who were betting the stock market would continue to fall long-term were "betting against science." — Pound
Gilead Sciences soared more than 12% in the premarket session Friday after a report said that its drug remdesivir proved effective in treating the coronavirus. STAT news reported Thursday evening that a Chicago doctor treating those with the virus with the drug in a trial said her patients were recovering rapidly from severe symptoms. Though Gilead cautioned in a statement to Reuters that such anecdotal reports do not prove remdesivir's efficacy, the company said more rigorous trials should show more certain results by the end of April. — Franck
China's GDP contracted by 6.8% in the first quarter as coronavirus containment measures exacted a sharp economic hit. The decline was even worse than the 6.5% expectation, though economists generally cast doubt on China's official figures. Industrial production fell 1.1%, which was better than estimates of 7.3%, while retail sales plunged 15.8% against a 10% forecast. Unemployment for the quarter stood at 5.9%, down from 6.2% amid efforts to gradually restart daily activities. However, continued weakness in demand shows that "even after the lockdowns have been lifted, people are cautious to consume," Bo Zhuang, chief China economist at TS Lombard, told CNBC. — Cox
Shares of the consumer staples giant rose nearly 2% in premarket trading on Friday after reporting a 10% surge in U.S. sales in its quarterly earnings. Procter & Gamble said American sales got a boost from consumers stocking up on staples like toilet paper ahead of the coronavirus outbreak. The company earned $1.17 per share adjusted, compared to the Refinitiv estimate of $1.13 per share. However, the Vicks owner cut its revenue forecast for fiscal 2020, citing headwinds from foreign currency. — Fitzgerald
Shares of Boeing jumped more than 9% in Friday's premarket trading after the company said it plans to resume commercial aircraft production at its Seattle-area plant as early as Monday. The company is implementing new physical distancing measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19. About 27,000 employees will be returning to work, equal to around 17% of the company's workforce. The stock is down 58% this year. — Stevens, Josephs
Goldman Sachs on Friday downgraded shares of Apple to sell from neutral and said it sees slowing iPhone demand as users hang on to phones longer. "We are now modeling a deeper reduction in unit demand through mid 2020 and then a shallower recovery into early 2021. We also assume some lingering [average selling price] weakness as consumers look to economize similar to what we have seen in prior downturns," Goldman analyst Rod Hall told clients. The firm said consumer demand may not return till late 2021 and that it would feel more bullish with evidence it would return sooner. Goldman lowered its price target on the stock to $233 from $250, representing a near 20% drop from Thursday's closing price of $286.69 a share. — Fitzgerald
— CNBC's Jeff Cox, Fred Imbert, Leslie Josephs, Kevin Stankiewicz and Jesse Pound contributed reporting.
Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.