1. Dow set to surge after a coronavirus drug reportedly shows effectiveness
U.S. stock futures were pointing to an over 700-point gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average at Friday’s open. While off the overnight highs of more than 900 points, the Dow was set to surge on a report that said Gilead Sciences drug Remdesivir showed effectiveness in treating Covid-19.
Dow stock Procter & Gamble was higher in the premarket after the consumer products giant said fiscal third-quarter U.S. sales surged 10% as people stocked up on staples like toilet paper ahead of the coronavirus outbreak. Adjusted quarterly earnings of $1.17 per share beat estimates. But total revenue of $17.2 billion was short of forecasts. On Thursday, the Dow bounced around, closing up 0.1%. The S&P 500 rose 0.6%. The Nasdaq was up a stronger 1.7%. In fact, the Nasdaq 100, composed of the 100 largest stocks in the index, jumped nearly 2% and erased its 2020 losses.
Recent U.S. economic numbers have been dismal due to the coronavirus crisis. The same is true in China, where the virus originated late last year. The world’s second largest economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter after growing 6% in the fourth quarter. Looking at Chinese manufacturing and consumer activity, industrial production there dropped 8.4% in the first quarter, including a 1.1% decline in March. Retail sales fell 19% in the first quarter, including a 15.8% drop in March.
2. Promising developments from Gilead and Moderna
Shares of Gilead Sciences, while higher after-hours overnight, were jumping over 10% in Friday’s premarket trading after details leaked of a closely watched Remdesivir clinical trial. The University of Chicago’s Phase 3 drug trial found that most of its Covid-19 patients had “rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms” and were discharged in less than a week, health-care publication STAT News reported. In another promising situation, biotech Moderna announced federal funding up to $483 million to accelerate the development of its coronavirus vaccine. Moderna shares were soaring about 18% in Friday’s premarket. If supported by safety data from the Phase 1 study, Moderna intends to begin Phase 2 in the second quarter.
3. Trump unveils ‘Opening Up America Again’ guidelines
President Donald Trump has unveiled broad new federal guidelines that lay out conditions for parts of the U.S., not hit as hard by the coronavirus, to start relaxing some of the strict orders aimed at mitigating the spread of the disease. The 18-page plan for “Opening Up America Again” identifies the circumstances necessary for areas of the country to allow employees to start returning to work. While the decision to lift restrictions ultimately rests with state governors, the federal outline nevertheless ramps up pressure on them to loosen their restrictions.
4. East Coast states extend their shutdown orders
New York and other East Coast states are extending their shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15 as officials grapple with how to reopen parts of the economy without leading to a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday reported the lowest increase in state deaths in six days as the new daily increases in Covid-19 cases nationwide showed signs of slowing.
5. China’s Wuhan raises coronavirus death toll by 50%
People with face masks waiting at Hankou Railway Station on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, China.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered in December, has upwardly revised the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in the city after “a city-wide investigation,” state media reported. The Wuhan government said total confirmed infections in the city have been revised to 50,333 as of Thursday, an increase of 325 cases, while the cumulative number of deaths shot up 50% to 3,869. That brings China’s total cases numbers up to over 83,700 and 4,636 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data on Friday morning. Wuhan officials provided four explanations for the discrepancy in data, including incomplete registration of deaths and delayed reporting by medical institutions.