Dow Closes Up 1.5% - States Move Tentatively Toward Reopening and Oil Prices Sink

Stocks finish higher as nations worldwide, including the U.S., look to reopen and investors prep for earnings reports from American heavyweights.
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Stocks on Monday finished higher as nations worldwide, including the U.S., moved tentatively toward reopening and investors prepped for earnings reports from American heavyweights.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up for a fourth day. It ended trading up 358 points, or 1.51%, to 24,133, the S&P 500 gained 1.47% and the Nasdaq rose 1.11%.

Walt Disney , 3M  (MMM) - Get Report, and JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Report led the Dow's advance.

Stocks were higher despite another tumble for crude oil prices. West Texas Intermediate crude oil for June delivery settled down 23% to $13.10 a barrel as crude inventories have risen. The coronavirus pandemic has led demand for oil to evaporate.

Asian stocks had finished higher after the Bank of Japan boosted stimulus measures by pledging to buy more bonds. Central banks in the U.S. and Europe will meet this week. 

The Federal Reserve will gather Tuesday and Wednesday, and with interest rates near zero the U.S. central bank is unlikely to take any policy actions. An announcement from the Fed is expected Wednesday afternoon. Guidance from the Fed will be the focus of Wall Street.

In the U.S., the federal government and various states have been looking at reopening their economies in the weeks ahead. Some states, such as Georgia, already were trying to get back to normal.

"I think as we begin to reopen the economy in May and June you're going to really see the economy bounce back in July, August, September," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a member of the president's coronavirus task force, on "Fox News Sunday." "We are putting in an unprecedented amount of fiscal relief into the economy."

"You’re seeing trillions of dollars that’s making its way into the economy and I think this is going to have a significant impact,” Mnuchin said of the relief packages that Congress has approved to keep the economy afloat. The economy has been stalled by the pandemic.

Marc Chaikin, founder of Chaikin Analytics, a quantitative investment research firm in Philadelphia, said, however, that the "biggest risk to the stock market" is a "premature reopening of the U.S. economy which results in an increase in Covid-19 cases and requires an abrupt reversal of these efforts to awaken the economy out of its engineered coma."

The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 3,017,806, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 208,130. 

Cases in the U.S. have climbed close to 1 million and deaths have risen to 56,376, the most in the world.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Monday that health officials were extending the city’s stay-at-home order through May. Breed instituted a shelter-in-place order for the city on March 16.

Earnings season kicks in significantly later this week, with reports from tech giants Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report, Amazon.com  (AMZN) - Get Report, Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Report, Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report and Facebook  (FB) - Get Report

Speaking of Apple, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday the tech giant will delay mass production of its flagship iPhone but press ahead with plans to release new models later this year.

The Journal said Apple's new smartphones will vary in price and come in three different sizes when they're released later this year, likely in September. One of the four new iPhones, the Journal said, will also include 5G connectivity.

However, the Journal also said Apple likely would cut the number of handsets it will produce over the second half of the year by as much as 20% as demand withers in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns in key markets around the world.

General Motors  (GM) - Get Report said Monday it would suspend its quarterly cash dividend and its share repurchase program as the automaker moves to strengthen its balance sheet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

GM also said it has extended $3.6 billion under its three-year revolving credit agreement, until April 2022, and has taken "other significant austerity measures to preserve near-term available cash." 

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