Wall Street rallies as Trump declares virus national emergency

Traders listen at New York Stock Exchange to President Donald Trump’s televised speech from the White House. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: Wall Street roared back Friday to conclude a bruising week on a more upbeat note as US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged late in the day, finishing with a gain nearly 2,000 points or 9.4% to end the week at 23,185.62, recovering most of Thursday’s losses.

The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 9.3% to 2,711.02, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 9.4% to close at 7,874.88.

Stocks were in positive territory all day, but dramatically added to gains in the last 30 minutes during a White House announcement.

Accompanied by health care and retail executives, Trump announced plans to radically increase testing for the virus as the US tries to control a public health crisis that largely shut down the economy in China and Italy.

Trump also announced plans to buy oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a US emergency stockpile, and to waive interest rates on student loans, while accessing US$50 billion to address the crisis.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, said Trump’s announcement met expectations as far as laying out a health care response to the crisis.

“It’s the first time we’ve heard any details that have been elucidated as far as concrete steps,” Hogan said.

The measures come on the heels of emergency steps by the Federal Reserve to boost market liquidity and cut interest rates.

Markets are also anticipating a US fiscal response to the crisis, although Trump and congressional Democrats have not reached agreement on that.

Wall Street’s recovery came after major US indices Thursday suffered their worst session since 1987 on recession fears as numerous major sporting and entertainment events were cancelled as much of the United States hunkers down.

All 30 members of the Dow advanced Friday. The biggest gainers were American Express, Intel and JPMorgan Chase, each of which gained nearly 20%.

Other beaten-down stocks that rose included Delta Air Lines, up 13.8%, cruise company Carnival, up 17.4% and Halliburton, up 11.4%.