Wall St up 2{4c4eada76ecf1be575223a4ba5c40f01738ab49b07447a5a057265ba4edb475a} on hopes of lockdown easing


Wall Street has risen more than 2.0 per cent on signs some economies would ease strict coronavirus-induced lockdowns, with investors also looking at quarterly earnings from JPMorgan and Johnson & Johnson for clues on the business hit from the outbreak.

Early gains were broad based with a 4.3 per cent jump for Apple Inc powering a 3.0 per cent rise in the tech-heavy Nasdaq as data showed iPhone shipments to China rebounded slightly in March after crashing in February.

US stock markets have recovered in the past month after slumping more than 30 per cent from their February record highs, supported by a raft of monetary and fiscal stimulus and early signs of a plateauing in the number of coronavirus cases.

However, S&P 500 firms are still off about $US4.7 trillion ($A7.3 trillion) in market value and analysts have warned of a torrid earnings season as sweeping lockdown measures ground business activity to a shuddering halt.

Profits at JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co plunged in the first quarter, as both banks set aside billions of dollars to cover potential loan-losses from the pandemic.

However, their shares rose between 1.0 per cent and 1.8 per cent, after slumping 29 per cent and 40 per cent respectively so far this year as the health crisis halted deal-making.

Coronavirus-fuelled uncertainty also forced Johnson & Johnson to cut its 2020 adjusted profit forecast, but its shares rose 4.1 per cent as it boosted its quarterly dividend, signalling financial stability at a time when a slate of blue-chip firms have suspended dividends to shore up cash reserves.

“It should come as no surprise that earnings are going to be hit very hard in 2020,” said Fiona O’Neill, deputy head of equities research at Fidelity International in London.

“But it would be wrong to focus too much on 2020. Instead, we must look to forecast where earnings will go in 2021 and beyond so that we can continue to identify those companies that are going to emerge from this as winners.”

In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 605.91 points, or 2.59 per cent, at 23,996.68, while the S&P 500 was up 77.31 points, or 2.80 per cent, at 2,838.94. The Nasdaq Composite was up 274.63 points, or 3.35 per cent, at 8,467.05.

US President Donald Trump said late on Monday his administration was close to completing a plan to re-open the economy, but some state governors said the decision to re-start businesses lies with them.

“The ‘turned the corner’ narrative has a strong immediacy, but there remain creeping concerns about a slow economic re-opening and lasting changes to consumer spending,” said Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon.

Tesla Inc surged 12.9 per cent and was among the top boosts to the Nasdaq after brokerage Credit Suisse upgraded the electric carmaker’s stock to “neutral”.

The S&P 1500 airlines index gained 7.1 per cent as sources said some large US passenger airlines were close to accepting the terms of a $US25 billion offer for government payroll aid.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners more than 9-to-1 on the NYSE and 6-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded seven new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 20 new highs and two new lows.

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