Stock market live Thursday: Stocks end session at highs, Dow up nearly 300, big banks surge

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands in lower Manhattan on May 18, 2020 in New York City. Markets surged today as promising details of a potential COVID-19 vaccine were released and more European countries gradually re-opened after months of lockdown.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Stocks fluctuated between gains and losses most of the day as investors digested mixed jobs data and rising new coronavirus cases. But the market managed to pull off a late-day rally and closed near its session highs. Bank stocks jumped after U.S. banking regulators rolled back some post-crisis restrictions. Here's what happened:

4:18 pm: Thursday's market by the numbers

  • The Dow closed 299.66 points higher, or 1.2%, at 25,745.60
  • The S&P 500 ended the day up 1.1% at 3,083.76
  • The Nasdaq Composite closed up 1.09% for its ninth positive day in 10
  • The Nasdaq is up 0.71%, on pace for its fifth positive week in six
  • 10 out of 11 sectors were positive Thursday, led by financials, which was up 2.71% for its best day since June 12. --Francolla, Li

4:00 pm: Stocks close at session highs, boosted by big banks

The market rallied in the final hour and ended the session near its session high as shares of big banks surged ahead of their stress-test results. The Dow rose about 300 points, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1% each. JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup all gained at least 3%, while Goldman jumped more than 4%. Bank stocks got an immediate boost after regulators eased rules that will free up billions of capital.—Li

3:26 pm: Banks hit highs of the session

Shares of major U.S. banks hit their highs of the session in the final hour of trading on Thursday as investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve releasing stress-test results for banks. JPMorgan rose about 3.5% and Goldman Sacks ticked up more than 4%. Citigroup gained 3.5% and Bank of America rose nearly 4%. Wells Fargo jumped nearly 5%. Earlier on Thursday the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission eased some of the restrictions put in place following the financial crisis. – Fitzgerald

3:02 pm: Apple reclosing additional 14 stores in Florida due to virus concern

Apple said Thursday afternoon it is closing 14 additional stores in Florida due to the recent spikes in coronavirus cases in the state. These closures are spread across six counties in Florida – Hillsborough, Orange, Seminole, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade. The move brought the total closures to 32 stores in Florida. "We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible," Apple said in a statement. Shares of Apple last traded up 0.2%. --Li

3:00 pm: Final hour of trading: Stocks near the flatline in choppy trading

The major averages hovered along the flatline with roughly one hour left of trading as investors grappled with rising coronavirus cases and easier regulation on banks. The Dow was up just 17 points, or 0.1%, along with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. —Imbert

2:47 pm: Oil rises, but still on track for its second negative week in three

Oil prices rose on Thursday after data showed that fewer than 20 million people in the U.S. are now receiving unemployment benefits, the first time the number has fallen below that mark in two months. A rise in fuel demand also supported prices. West Texas Intermediate crude settled 71 cents, or 1.87%, higher at $38.72 per barrel. Earlier in the session it traded as low as $37.08. International benchmark Brent crude also advanced, finishing the session 1.84% higher at $41.05. An increase in Covid-19 cases did cap upside gains, however. "All eyes are on how governments will react to the new surge of the pandemic ... as these policy decisions are in reality what will determine the direction of the market," said Rystad Energy's Bjornar Tonhaugen. "From the producers side, OPEC+ has done what it should to curb demand. Now the ball is on the virus itself and how quickly it will allow the world to come back to normal." – Stevens

1:53 pm: Markets are still focused on 'reopening narrative,' Jefferies says

Jefferies said it expects the markets to grind higher but added that the biggest risks to stocks "will come next quarter when investors will be talking V-shaped recovery and there will be a sudden realization that monetary policy is too easy." For now the markets are content to focus on the "reopening narrative" rather than fears about a second wave in the fall, the bank said. "But such concerns are premature for now which is why the equity rally can continue," Jefferies' Global Head of Equity Strategy Christopher Wood said. – Bloom

1:16 pm: JPMorgan says markets will continue 'path to healing'

JPMorgan said in its mid-year outlook on Thursday that it sees the S&P 500 with  "15% upside from current levels by early 2021" and that investors should "buy the dips." No matter what happens with the coronavirus "our analysts believe that COVID-19 health risks can be managed and that markets will continue their path to healing," they said. "Over the very near term, equity selling could be as much as $170bn as an upper estimate into the current month/quarter end, but we estimate these rebalances could drive only modest weakness of ~70-190bps for the S&P 500." —Bloom, Imbert

12:35 pm: Midday movers

Major indexes are trading near the flat line, but many big name stocks are making more dramatic moves.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase — Bank stocks moved higher following news that bank regulators were proposing weaker restrictions on some investing activities, including loosening the Volcker Rule. Shares of Goldman Sachs gained 2.5%, while Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan added 2% and 1.7%, respectively.

Peloton – Shares of the exercise equipment maker jumped 3% after Raymond James resumed coverage on the stock with an outperform rating and $65 target, which implies a 13% rally ahead. The firm said the company has a "large market opportunity that is accelerating due to Covid-19," and expects continued revenue momentum ahead. Shares have more than doubled this year.

Read more here.Pound

12:25 pm: Software stocks are 'best positioned' in the work from home environment, Jefferies says

The work-from-home portfolio of software stocks are seeing "maximum benefit," according to Jefferies analyst Brent Thill. The firm said multiples in the space have expanded 21% and pointed to names like Zscaler, DocuSign, Citrix Systems and Cloudflare. "We believe the fundamental backdrop remains strong as is evidenced from the low single digit cuts to revenues and profitability within Software for 2020," he said. —Bloom

12:10 pm: Ex-FDIC chair says proposed changes to bank regulations are 'ill-advised' 

Former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair criticized proposed changes to bank regulations that would ease post-financial crisis restrictions. "These two specific proposals, I think, are ill-advised," Bair said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." Bair, a Republican who served as FDIC chair from 2006 to 2011, contended that loosening restrictions on how much money banks need to set aside for certain derivatives trades was wrong because it "increases risk to the deposit insurance fund." The further changes to the Volcker Rule would give banks too much leeway in deciding what is proprietary trading, she argued. "We went down that road" before the financial crisis, she said, when "we were basically letting banks decide how much capital they should have." "Been there, done that in a different context. It's not a good idea," she said. "Very disappointing, but it is what it is." — Kevin Stankiewicz 

12:05 pm: Markets at midday: Stocks volatile amid more virus cases and easier bank regulations

Around midday, there appeared to be a tug of war within the market as traders digested the latest coronavirus data along with a rollback in U.S. banking regulations. The Dow traded just below the flatline. Earlier in the session, the 30-stock average was down more than 200 points; it also traded higher by as much as 143 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also gyrated between gains and losses. —Imbert

11:51 am: Texas pauses reopening amid rising virus cases

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Thursday that the state will pause any further reopening as the state continues to report record spikes in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. "The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business," Abbott said in the release. -- Noah Higgins-Dunn

11:06 am: Virus positivity rate dips in Florida

Florida reported 5,004 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, down from 5,508 new cases reported on Wednesday. That brings the total number of cases in the state to 114,018. The percent of total tests that came back positive also fell to 8.72%, compared with 15.85% reported on Wednesday. However that could be due to a spike in the total number of tests reported. Florida's health department says it received 59,202 test results so far on Thursday, topping 36,332 tests reported on Wednesday. The stock market was hit in the previous session the moment when Florida's number of coronavirus cases were released. The latest figures released Thursday showed cases continue to increase at an alarming rate. —Feuer 

10:52 am: Recreational vehicle stocks higher today but 'fear buying' may not last, Bank of America says

As consumers resume outdoor activities, recent industry trends in recreational vehicle use are "positive," but it may not last, according to Bank of America. "Given the inherent uncertainty in the sustainability of this catalyst and the likelihood of high unemployment levels that challenge big ticket, discretionary purchases persisting over the foreseeable future, we believe the current elevated rate of activity could prove short lived," analyst John Lovallo said. "We remain of the view that recent industry strength has been driven in part by pent-up demand from a month of sheltering in place and 'fear buying' as consumers seek to avoid traditional airline and cruise vacations due to COVID-19," he said. Shares of Camping World are up almost 2% in early trading while Thor Industries and Patrick Industries are up almost 1%.- Bloom

10:25 am: Bank stocks jump after regulators ease Volcker Rule

Shares of big banks erased early losses and jumped higher after U.S. banking regulators rolled back post-crisis restrictions to allow banks to increase investments in certain funds and vehicles. JPMorgan popped 3.1%, while Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley all gained more than 2%. Goldman Sachs also jumped 3.5%. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Thursday approved changes to the so-called Volcker Rule, which prevented banks from investing their own money in hedge funds and private equity funds. The regulators also scrapped a requirement that lenders set aside cash for derivatives trades between different affiliates of the same firm. - Li

9:55 am: Here are Thursday's biggest analyst calls of the day: Apple, Boeing, Facebook, Spotify & more

  • Baird raised its price target on Facebook to $300 from $240.
  • Berenberg downgraded Boeing to sell from hold.
  • Wedbush raised its price target on Apple to $425 from $375.
  • Susquehanna raised its price target on Nvidia to $450 from $420.
  • Raymond James resumed coverage of Peloton as outperform.
  • Evercore ISI downgraded KB Home to in line from outperform.
  • RBC upgraded DuPont to outperform from sector perform.
  • UBS initiated Blackstone as buy.
  • Goldman Sachs raised its price target on Spotify to $280 from $205.

CNBC PRO subscribers can read more here. - Bloom

9:50 am: Investors, banks prepare for stress test results

The stress test results from the Federal Reserve are expected after the bell on Thursday, giving investors an idea of whether U.S. banks will be able to sustain their dividends through the economic downturn. The Fed added a new layer to the analysis this year that examines how banks would perform in several different recovery scenarios, including a "W" that includes cities and states shutting down businesses again.

CNBC PRO subscribers can read more here. —Pound

9:32 am: Disney delays California park reopening

Shares of Disney slid more than 2% on Thursday after the company said it is delaying the reopening of its California-based theme parks. Its two parks in Anaheim were initially scheduled to reopen on July 17, but will be delayed since state officials will not be issuing theme park reopening guidelines until after July 4. Disney will still be opening its shopping center, Downtown Disney District, on July 9. Shares lost 3.88% on Wednesday. – Stevens, Whitten

9:30 am: Stocks open lower as spike in Covid-19 cases, economic data weigh

Stocks opened lower on Thursday, extending Wednesday's sharp declines, as Covid-19 cases in the U.S. continue to rise. The Dow dropped 101 points for a loss of 0.4%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite slid 0.2% and 0/04%, respectively. A larger-than-expected jobless claims number also weighed on stocks, with claims remaining above the 1 million mark for a 14th straight week. – Stevens

9:03 am: KB Home CEO cites unemployment in earnings call as company reports 57% drop in net orders

KB Home CEO Jeffrey Mezger cited the country's high unemployment as Covid-19 took hold as contributing to the company's order slowdowns and cancellations. "These people that canceled, where you lost your job, you have to get your job back to come back and buy from us again," he said. Overall, the company reported a 57% year-over-year drop in net orders. Mezger added that cities like Las Vegas and Orlando were hit particularly hard based on their dependence on travel and tourism. "It's people where their income dropped because they're no longer working overtime or their job scope changed or they're no longer getting tip income if they're working at a casino in Vegas because they were closed. And so their income dropped," he said. Following the call, CNBC's Jim Cramer said the comments were a "wake-up slap in the face of what's really happening" in some areas of the country. Shares of the homebuilder dropped more than 14% in premarket trading. –Stevens

8:43 am: Initial jobless claims disappoint at 1.48 million, but total claims improve

The Labor Department's jobless report came in worst than expected as 1.48 million Americans filed for state unemployment benefits during the week ended June 20, marking the 14th straight week that filings remained above 1 million. Economists polled by Dow Jones had expected first-time applications to total 1.35 million.Though the weekly number did disappoint, one bright spot was that the total number of those receiving benefits continued to fall. Total recipients of unemployment benefits, or continuing claims, fell by 767,000 to 19.52 million. — Franck, Cox

8:24 am: Biden leads with voters, but Trump ahead on economy, CNBC survey shows

The CNBC All-America Economic Survey shows Vice President Joe Biden with a nine-point lead on President Donald Trump, but the incumbent still gets higher marks about his economic policies. Voters gave Trump a six-point lead when asked about policies for jobs and the economy, but that was the only category where the Republican led. Biden's best category was racial equality, where he led by 25%. —Pound

8:22 am: Virgin Galactic stock up ahead of 2nd glide flight test

Shares of Virgin Galactic popped as much as 2% in premarket trading after the space tourism company announced it planned to conduct the second glide flight test of its spacecraft in New Mexico. The company said that, given the flight is scheduled during market hours, it will not provide updates on social media during the flight but instead will send an update about the flights results after the market closes. The glide flight tests are a precursor to it beginning rocket-powered flights, which Virgin Galactic has completed before at its test facility in California. —Sheetz

8:20 am: Travel stocks sink in premarket trading

Shares of airlines and cruise lines struggled ahead of the opening bell. United Airlines dropped by 5.8%, while American and Delta both fell more than 4%. Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line plunged 7.3%, while Royal Caribbean and Carnival lost 6.2% and 6.7%, respectively. The acceleration of coronavirus cases in some states, and the quarantine for some travelers ordered in northeastern states, clouded the outlook for the travel industry's recovery. —Pound

8:18 am: KB Home drops 14% after earnings

Shares of KB Home slid more than 14% in premarket trading after the company reported second quarter results. The homebuilder did beat earnings estimates, but revenue came up short and the company said sales fell 11% year-over-year. Deliveries were down 10% and net orders dropped 57% as Covid-19 hit business. "The prolonged stay-at-home public health orders, resulting economic shutdown and our conservative approach to navigating the uncertain environment significantly impacted our orders during the quarter. However, following a low point in April, we are very encouraged by the resilience of housing market demand," said Jeffrey Mezger, KB Home chairman and CEO. –Stevens

8:16 am: Jobless report looms amid market jitters, 1.35 million initial claims expected

The Labor Department will publish its weekly jobless report at 8:30 a.m. ET in what's expected to be the 14th straight week with initial claims totaling more than 1 million. Economists polled by Dow Jones anticipate another 1.35 million American workers first-time claims during the seven-day period ended June 20. Though a reading of 1.35 million would mark a deceleration from the prior week's 1.5 million, the figure is still far above any print seen during the pre-Covid era.
The jobless report will also come amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Florida, Texas, California and Arizona, a development that has spooked investors in recent sessions and sparked fears of even longer economic shutdown. — Franck

8:14 am: More than 45,000 virus cases confirmed

The U.S. saw on Wednesday its biggest one-day spike of coronavirus cases, with over 45,000 infections confirmed, according to NBC News. That breaks the previous record set in April by more than 9,000. The spike comes as states gradually reopen their economies and ease restrictions on social distancing. States such as California, Texas and Florida have reported record infection numbers recently. In Arizona, only 12% of intensive-care unit beds are available. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have issued quarantine orders for visitors coming from certain hotspot states. 

8:13 am: Dow futures drop more than 200 points after big sell-off on Wednesday

Wall Street was set to build on the previous session's sharp losses as traders remain concern about the recent jump in coronavirus cases. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 205 points, or 0.8%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures slid 0.6% and 0.3%, respectively. The major averages suffered Wednesday their worst one-day decline since June 11 as cases in certain states rose by record numbers, raising questions about the economic reopening and recovery. —Imbert

—With reporting from Will Feuer, Jesse Pound, Jeff Cox, Michael Sheetz, Thomas Franck, and Michael Bloom.

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