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S&P 500, Dow edge higher as Gilead data offsets virus concerns

Kitco News

(Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow advanced on Friday as a positive update from Gilead’s antiviral drug to treat COVID-19 countered nerves over a record rise in coronavirus cases in the United States that threatens to damage Corporate America.

Gilead’s remdesivir significantly improved clinical recovery and reduced the risk of death in COVID-19 patients, additional data from a late-stage study showed. The drugmaker’s shares rose 2.1% as it said the finding required confirmation in clinical trials.

The United States registered the largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 infections globally for the second day in a row on Thursday, forcing Americans to take new precautions. Several states have already backpedaled on reopening plans.

“This market is psychologically focused on coronavirus news, and it’s a battle of positive news stories versus negative news stories,” said Mike Zigmont, head of trading and research at Harvest Volatility Management in New York.​​​​​​

A slate of economic data, including a record monthly payrolls addition, has pointed to a revival in business activity in June, fueling the U.S. stock market’s stimulus-driven rally.

The S&P 500 has risen more than 40% from its March lows and stands about 8% below its record high hit in February.

Technology stocks weakened, dragging the Nasdaq from its third record closing high this week.

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) rose between 3.2% and 3.8% ahead of their financial results next week, which would mark the onset of the second-quarter earnings season.

Overall profits for S&P 500 firms are expected to plunge the most since the financial crisis, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

“With the earnings expectations so low, investors are of the mindset that they will more likely be exceeded rather than fall even further,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

At 12:48 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 191.83 points, or 0.75%, at 25,897.92, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 12.25 points, or 0.39%, at 3,164.30. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 2.73 points, or 0.03%, at 10,545.02.

Carnival Corp (CCL.N) jumped 8.4% after the cruise line operator said it was planning to resume operations in a phased manner and would operate with a smaller fleet on its return.

Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) rose 6.5% after Goldman Sachs hiked its price target on the video streaming service’s shares.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.40-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 67 new highs and 16 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Maju Samuel

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