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U.S. Stocks Rally On Coronavirus Optimism, Sanders Dropping Out Of Race

wallstreet sept18 08apr20 lt

Stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday after fluctuating early in the session. With the rally on the day, the major averages ended the session at their best closing levels in nearly a month.

The major averages saw further upside in late-day trading, ending the day near their highs of the session. The Dow soared 779.71 points or 3.4 percent to 23,433.57, the Nasdaq surged up 203.64 points or 2.6 percent to 8,090.90 and the S&P 500 spiked 90.57 points or 3.4 percent to 2,749.98.

Stocks continued to benefit from optimism that some of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic are flattening the infection curve.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. have reached more than 400,000, the most in the world.

However, the latest data from the university also shows that the number of new cases has decreased in recent days after reaching a peak last Friday.

The number of new coronavirus cases has also recently shown significant downturns in Italy and Spain, which currently have the most confirmed cases in Europe.

Adding to the positive sentiment, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told Fox News the U.S. could see the "beginning of a turnaround" after a "bad week for deaths" this week.

Fauci noted deaths are a lagging indicator and pointed to the decrease in the number of new cases and a lower rate of hospitalizations.

Further buying interest was generated in reaction to news Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders' decision to end his presidential campaign sets up a general election matchup between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

With the campaign virtually shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sanders was widely seen as unlikely to overtake Biden in the race for delegates.

Nonetheless, the move by Sanders still seems to have soothed investors concerned about the self-described Democratic Socialist enacting his more progressive policies.

Sector News

Energy stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, benefiting from a sharp increase by the price of crude oil. Crude for May delivery jumped $1.46 to $25.09 a barrel amid expectations of a production cut at a meeting of OPEC and its allies on Thursday.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index skyrocketed by 7.9 percent, while the NYSE Arca Oil Index and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index jumped by 6.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.

Significant strength was also visible among housing stocks, as reflected by the 7.7 percent spike by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index.

Commercial real estate, chemical, banking and utilities stocks also saw considerable strength, moving sharply higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 2.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid by 1.2 percent.

The major European markets also turned mixed over the course of the session. While the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index dipped by 0.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries fluctuated as the day progressed before eventually closing moderately lower. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 2.8 basis points to 0.764 percent.

Looking Ahead

The weekly jobless claims report is likely to in the spotlight on Thursday, as traders look for the latest readings on the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the economy.

Remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell may also attract attention along with reports on producer price inflation and consumer sentiment.

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