(Reuters) – Wall Street rose for the third time in four days on Thursday as the U.S. Federal Reserve rolled out a massive $2.3 trillion program to bolster local governments and businesses hammered by the coronavirus outbreak.
FILE PHOTO: A man crosses a nearly deserted Nassau Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the financial district of lower Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar
In what is likely to be its largest rescue effort ever, the Fed said it would work with banks to offer 4-year loans to companies of up to 10,000 employees and directly buy bonds of states and more populous counties and cities.
“(The Fed’s move) should give some confidence to investors, that the risks this time around are maybe not the same as the risks in the financial crisis,” said Randy Watts, chief investment officer at O’Neil Global Advisors.
“While this rally has been impressive, the market probably is a little bit of ahead of itself and we would not be surprised to see a pullback from here.”
The financial index rose 6.09%, providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500 as banks rose sharply on the Fed’s backstop. J.P. Morgan rose over 9%, leading gains on the Dow.
The defensive real estate and utilities sectors also jumped more than 5%.
The S&P 500 has gained near 13% in the holiday-shortened week on early signs of the outbreak hitting a peak and aggressive global stimulus, but it remains about 17% below its record high as lockdown measures hamper business activity.
If gains hold through the day, the benchmark index would have logged its best week since October 1974.
While public health experts stressed the need to keep people apart to contain the contagion, the restrictions have strangled the economy and sparked widespread production cuts, layoffs and projections of a severe recession.
“This week brought early signs that the restrictions put in place over recent weeks are flattening the epidemic curve in the U.S.,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
“But set against that good news, there are clearer signs that the hit to employment has been harder than initially anticipated.”
A staggering 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks, with weekly new claims topping 6 million for the second straight time last week.
Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil and Apache Corp rose between 3% and 20% tracking oil prices, which gained as OPEC and other crude producers work on a deal to drastically cut output in response to a collapse in global demand.
At 1:09 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 523.97 points, or 2.24%, at 23,957.54, the S&P 500 was up 62.48 points, or 2.27%, at 2,812.46 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 104.19 points, or 1.29%, at 8,195.09.
Walt Disney Co jumped 4.97%, as the company said its Disney+ streaming service had attracted more than 50 million paid users globally.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 11.27-to-1 ratio on the NYSE AND a 4.48-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded five new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 14 new highs and eight new lows.
Reporting by Uday Sampath and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani, Arun Koyyur and Shounak Dasgupta