Wall Street set for gains at end of blistering week

(Reuters) – All three main U.S. stock indexes were on course to open higher on Friday in what is still the market’s worst month in three decades, as intervention by U.S. policymakers finally seemed to stem the bleeding on Wall Street.

Airlines including United Airlines Holdings (UAL.O), Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O) rose between 9% and 11% premarket, leading the charge in a sector that has lost more than half its value in the rout.

Technology-focused heavyweights Microsoft (MSFT.O), Intel (INTC.O) also firmed 3% with Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 rising 2.7% at 7,474.5, briefly hitting a daily upper trading limit of 7,629.

A raft of additional monetary measures by the U.S. central bank, allied to signs of progress on agreeing extra government spending, propped up the three main stock indexes on Thursday.

Investors are counting on further policy easing in the next few days as the Senate mulls a $1 trillion package that would include direct financial help for Americans.

“It’s the effect of both central banks and governments signaling that they’re willing to do whatever it takes,” said Teeuwe Mevissen, senior market economist at Rabobank.

“But in general, I don’t think these movements signal that the worst is over and that we are going to get back to normal anytime soon.”

Fears of the severity of the outbreak have spooked investors over the past month, with the S&P 500 losing nearly 30% – or more than $8 trillion – in value since hitting a record closing high on Feb. 19.

Boeing Co (BA.N), down 70% since the start of the year as an almost total halt in air travel added to its 737 MAX woes, rose 1.6%.

Shares of drugmaker (MYL.O) soared 13% after it restarted production of its malaria drug in the United States to meet increased demand, driven by its potential to treat COVID-19.

Shares of U.S. banks including Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) rose more than 2%. Bank stocks .SPXBK, however, were still headed for their fifth weekly decline as investors eyed a future likely to include widespread loan defaults.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) rose more than 7% as oil prices rebounded.

At 08:30 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 rose 1.55% and S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 0.99%.

SPDR S&P 500 ETFs (SPY.P) were up 0.45%

The gains will still be marginal compared with steep losses for Wall Street in the past four weeks as the rapid spread of COVID-19 shuts down large cities and upends business activity.

California became the latest state to issue an unprecedented statewide “stay at home” order as the number of U.S. coronavirus deaths hit 200.

A Reuters poll of economists suggested the global economy was already in recession.

Markets also face a “quadruple witching” on Friday, where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before their expiration.

(This story corrects to remove reference to Markit PMI data in paragraph 17)

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