Stocks gain as $484B small-business relief bill clears Congress

SEC chairman: Markets in a period of ‘relative calm’

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton discusses the markets and trading amid the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. equity markets opened higher Friday after the House of Representatives ratified the $484 billion small-business relief bill.

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The bill, which is headed to President Trump to be signed, replenishes the Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan program that small businesses can tap to keep employees on their payroll, with $310 billion.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 194 points, or 0.83 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Looking at individual stocks, Boeing is readying job cuts and could reduce production of the 787 Dreamliner by half, according to Bloomberg.

Shale explorer Continental Resources has stopped most of its output in North Dakota, telling customers it would not be producing with oil prices at current levels, Reuters reported.

On the earnings front, three Dow Jones components released their quarterly results.

Credit card company American Express Co. said profit plunged 76 percent from a year ago to $367 million after the company set aside $2.6 billion to provide a cushion for losses from COVID-19.

Chipmaker Intel reported better-than-expected top- and bottom-line results, but expressed concerns that customer spending might stall if there were a recession.

Verizon Communications Inc. reported mixed quarterly results and lost 50,000 retail customers on traditional monthly plans. The company lowered its full-year earnings forecast, projecting profit would rise no more than 2 percent and might decline by that amount. It previously predicted earnings growth of 2 percent to 4 percent.

Elsewhere, J.C. Penney is in advanced talks for bankruptcy funding of up to $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Commodities were higher, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil gaining for a third straight day, up 4 percent at $17.16 a barrel, and gold adding 0.56 percent to $1,755 an ounce.

The yield on the 10-year note was little changed, holding near 0.61 percent.

European markets were lower across the board with Germany’s DAX weaker by 0.44 percent, Britain’s FTSE off 0.43 percent and France’s CAC down 0.15 percent.


In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite slid 1.06 percent, Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.86 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.61 percent.

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