U.S. stock futures surged late Thursday after a report of promising results in a study of a Gilead (GILD) - Get Report drug being tested for use in treating COVID-19 patients and after President Donald Trump outlined guidelines for the re-opening of the U.S. economy.
Futures contracts pointed to a gain of more than 800 points, or 3.5%, for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain of 3.3%, while those for the Nasdaq Composite index pointed to a 2.5% gain.
Gilead shares popped in late trading Thursday after a report said that most of the 125 COVID-19 patients in a Chicago trial of its remdesivir antiviral drug were discharged within a week. The stock gained $11.90, or 15%, to $88.39 in after-hours action.
Elsewhere, Trump outlined a three-phase process for re-opening the U.S., but left it to individual state governors to decide how and when to begin.
Phase one would require strict social distancing for everyone in public, with only small gatherings of 10 or fewer people and with nonessential travel discouraged.
Phase two would see a resumption of travel and gatherings of 50 or fewer people.
Phase three would largely see normal activity resume, with heightened efforts to identify and isolate any new infections.
Infectious disease experts generally advise that cases need to decline for two weeks before it’s safe to consider relaxing stay-at-home orders.
Pressure to re-open the U.S. economy has been growing amid unprecedented layoffs that have seen 22 million Americans file for unemployment since the middle of March, when shut-down orders began to be implemented.