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Stocks End Higher as Lockdowns Are Eased and Oil Prices Rally

Stocks finish higher after the U.S. began easing lockdown restrictions and oil prices jumped as countries started reopening their economies.

Stocks lost some steam but finished higher Tuesday after the U.S. began easing lockdown restrictions and oil prices rose as countries started getting back to work after shutting down for weeks in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 133 points, or 0.56%, to 23,883, the S&P 500 gained 0.9% and the Nasdaq rose 1.13%. At one point, the Dow was up more than 400 points, or 1.8%.

Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report led the Dow, followed by UnitedHealth  (UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Report and Home Depot  (HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. (HD) Report.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR Report said they had launched a clinical trial to test a set of potential Covid-19 vaccines, that, if successful, could lead to the production of millions of doses by year's end.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, the first state to shut down its economy over the coronavirus outbreak, said stay-at-home rules would be loosened modestly beginning Friday.

The prospect of the lockdowns easing was giving Wall Street a jolt even as investors prepared for another hectic week of earnings reports. Investors on Friday also are likely to confront another catastrophic reading on U.S. job losses for April. That report will again highlight the impact of the pandemic on the employment market.

The moves to open U.S. states came even as deaths from the virus passed 69,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, and infections in the U.S. grew to 1.18 million.

U.S. oil prices rose for a fifth day Tuesday on moves to reopen the U.S. economy. West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery settled at $24.56 a barrel, up 20.5%.

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President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that oil prices were "moving up nicely as demand begins again!"

United Airlines  (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report plans to cut at least 3,400 management and administrative positions in October, Reuters reported, and pilots were told to prepare for a “displacement” that will affect roughly 30% of their ranks.

Hertz Global  (HTZ) - Get Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. Report fell sharply Tuesday after The Wall Street Journal reported the car-rental company hired an additional adviser to help prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing.

DuPont  (DD) - Get DuPont de Nemours, Inc. Report reported first-quarter adjusted earnings and sales that beat analysts' projections and the chemicals giant said certain of its businesses, namely personal protection, were boosted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Walt Disney  (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report is scheduled to report quarterly earnings after the closing bell Tuesday.

"Stocks are rising on the heels of better-than-expected earnings reports, but I question the accuracy of today's earnings estimates, as the coronavirus-driven lockdowns globally have made it tougher for large Wall Street data firms to collect data, gather information and tabulate accurate earnings estimates," said David Trainer, CEO of investment research firm New Constructs.

He added that Wall Street relies on data from big firms with large overseas operations.

"It's unclear if Wall Street data firms will be able to handle the increased costs and resources required to keep data operations going overseas, especially if the coronavirus continues to keep their employees working remotely," Trainer said.