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Dow Surges 700, or 3%, on Hopes for Reopening Economy, Coronavirus Treatment

Stocks ended higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 up for a second straight week.

Stocks finished higher on promising results of a drug to treat patients with the deadly Covid-19 disease and after President Donald Trump outlined guidelines for reopening the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 704 points, or 2.99%, to 24,242, the S&P 500 gained 2.68% and the Nasdaq gained 1.38%.

The S&P 500 closed with its second straight week of gains. 

For the week the Dow industrials rose 2.2%, the S&P 500 tacked on 3% and the Nasdaq jumped 6.1%.

Boeing  (BA)  led the Dow's advance, rising 15% after saying it would resume airplane production at its Seattle-area facilities beginning next week, a move that affects about 27,000 jobs.

The airplane maker said work on its 737, 747, 767 and 777 models will resume as early as April 20, with most employees back by April 21. Employees working on the company’s 787 model will return beginning April 23, with most back by April 24, the company said.

Gilead Sciences  (GILD)  was the Nasdaq's top gainer Friday, rising 9.7% following a report that said most of the 125 Covid-19 patients taking the antiviral drug remdesivir in a Chicago trial were discharged within a week.

The report from medical news publication STAT said a group of patients being treated were “seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms.”

Trump, meanwhile, outlined plans to reopen the economy in three phases though the White House has yet to ensure that testing for the coronavirus will be made more readily available as has been urged by business leaders and infectious disease experts.

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“We’re starting our life again,” the president said Thursday at a press briefing. “We’re starting rejuvenation of our economy again.”

Phase one would see restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and large sporting venues reopen if they adhere to strict social distancing requirements.  

Pressure to reopen the U.S. economy has been growing and it intensified after data showed about 22 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits since the middle of March, when shutdown orders began to be implemented.

"The market is fueled by hope and optimism (Friday) - hope for a vaccination and optimism around reopening the economy," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade. 

"That said, these are relatively fragile indicators as testing remains underway and areas hard hit like New York and New Jersey continue to operate under strict stay-at-home orders. 

"The market is also buoyed by the Fed’s support of the junk bond markets and simply the large amount of cash sitting on the sidelines with investors cautiously looking for opportunities. 

"There is still plenty of uncertainty in the near-term which could cause the markets to do an about face. If there is one thing investors should remember it’s: Take the market’s moves in stride, investing is all about the long game," he added.

Investors on Friday mostly looked past a sharp contraction in China's gross domestic product. Growth declined 6.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, marking the worst performance for the world's second-largest economy since at least 1992. Economists had expected a GDP decrease of 6%.

Procter & Gamble  (PG)  posted stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings but trimmed its sales growth forecast because of a stronger U.S. dollar.

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