NEW YORK - U.S. equity markets ended the day and week on a high note gaining steam in the final hour of trading as investor optimism grows around President Trump's roadmap to reopen the U.S. economy and after a COVID-19 treatment showed additional promising results.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared nearly 700 points or 2.9 percent while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite climbed by 2.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
All three of the major averages notched the second straight week of gains.
Friday afternoon the National Institutes of Health said Gilead Sciences drug remdesivir showed promising results in treating monkeys infected with COVID 19. On Thursday, a report on a trial conducted by University of Chicago Medicine also noted rapid recoveries in patients with COVID-19, according to a report from STAT.
Gilead released a statement saying anecdotal reports do not have the statistical capability to measure the drug's safety.
Gilead shares rallied sharply on the news, as did fellow drugmaker Moderna, which received $483 million in government funding to accelerate its attempts to find a COVID-19 vaccine.
In other developments, Trump held a press conference Thursday evening that unveiled the administration’s plans for “opening up America again,” a data-driven strategy that will take place in three phases and allow for daily activity to eventually return to normal.
In other stocks, Dow Jones component Boeing announced late Wednesday that production at its Seattle-area facilities will restart next week, allowing approximately 27,000 employees to begin returning to work.
While production will resume for the 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs, it will remain halted for the grounded single-aisle 737 Max.
On the earnings front, the oil services provider Schlumberger took an $8.5 billion writedown as a “double black swan” event including the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price war created the industry’s most challenging environment in decades.
Procter & Gamble reported U.S. sales surged 10 percent as consumers stocked up on Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels as they hunkered down to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, the company cut its revenue forecast for fiscal year 2020 due to foreign exchange headwinds.
Elsewhere, Tesla was on track for its 10th straight day of gains, which would be a first in the stock’s history.
West Texas Intermediate was trading lower by 8.66 percent at $18.15 a barrel after touching an 18-year low of $17.31. Meanwhile gold fell 1.17 percent to $1,711 per ounce.
U.S. Treasurys were little changed with the yield on the 10-year note at 0.609 percent.
European markets were sharply higher with France’s CAC rallying 3.42 percent, Germany’s DAX adding 3.15 percent and Britain’s FTSE climbing 2.82 percent.
Overnight, China reported gross domestic product in the January-through-March period fell 6.8 percent, the first decline since recordkeeping began in 1992. The drop was bigger than the 6 percent that analysts surveyed by Reuters were anticipating.
China’s Shanghai Composite, which gained 0.66 percent, lagged other Asian markets. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Japan’s Nikkei added 1.56 percent and 3.25 percent, respectively.
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