Stocks surged on Wednesday after Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he is suspending his presidential campaign, leaving Wall Street-friendly former Vice President Joe Biden as the apparent nominee.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up by around 770 points, while the S&P 500 was up by 3.3 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained around 2.5 percent.
All three major averages hit session highs earlier in the day after Sen. Sanders made his announcement, with the Dow breaching the 23,000 mark for the first time since March 13.
Investor confidence was also boosted by a rally in the oil market, following a report that producing countries would slash output by as much as 10 million barrels per day. OPEC and its allies are set to host a virtual meeting on Thursday.
Markets also responded favorably to comment from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, who said Wednesday he was expecting a turnaround this week. New data from Johns Hopkins University also showed that the number of coronavirus cases is trending downwards in the U.S.
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However, in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the “TODAY” show, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, warned Wednesday that while there are encouraging signs that parts of the U.S. may be flattening the curve, people should continue to social distance.
For his part, President Donald Trump is continuing to push for a lifting of the economic restrictions that have led to 10 million jobless Americans.
“We’re looking at the concept where we open sections of the country, and we’re also looking at the concept where you open up everything,” Trump said Tuesday night in an interview with Fox News.
The United Nations labor agency warned Tuesday that the coronavirus could wipe out the equivalent of 195 million jobs around the world, with hospitality, manufacturing and retail sectors registering the heaviest toll.
“This far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis,” the International Labour Organization said in a statement.
The European Union failed to reach an agreement on a coronavirus relief package, adding to fears about that sector’s continued economic carnage. EU finance ministers reportedly held a marathon 16-hour teleconference to discuss the $543 billion plan, but failed to reach consensus.
The president of the European Union’s main scientific body has resigned over frustration with the bloc’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As Italy enters its fifth week of lockdown, businesses and academics are warning that continued restrictions would inflict further social and economic damage to the country. The National Institute of Statistics said the lockdown has crimped Italy’s total economic production by 34 percent.
Meanwhile, the British pound continued to see volatility as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care. Johnson’s spokesperson said Wednesday the prime minister is “clinically stable” and “responding to treatment.” Johnson is the first world leader to have contracted the virus.