Stocks around the world rose today as investors latched onto strands of hope about progress in the fight against the coronavirus.
The S&P 500 was up 1.3 percent in midday trading, though the gains faded a bit from the start. It followed up on jumps of better than two percent in Europe and Asia.
A measure of US leading economic indicators plunged last month by the most in its 60-year history, the latest in a string of similarly unprecedented data reports.
The stock market tries to set prices now for where corporate profits and business conditions will be months in the future, and some investors are focusing on the possibility that parts of the economy could reopen, even if not soon, rather than on the current dismal data.
The S&P 500 is on pace for its first back-to-back weekly gain since the market began to sell off in February.
“Just having that light at the end of the tunnel is what people really want to see,” J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, said.
He and many other analysts caution that the recent rally may have been overdone, though, and the market will likely remain volatile. Any improvement in the economy will likely be gradual.
“There’s the opportunity for a big letdown when we get back to work that things aren’t humming immediately,” Mr Kinahan said.
Among the wisps of optimism that investors were focusing today were a news report cited early progress in a drug candidate for the virus.
Analysts cautioned that much of the encouraging data was only anecdotal, and they were hesitant to put too much stock in it.
President Donald Trump also unveiled guidelines late Thursday (local time) for states to follow as they reopen their economies following widespread shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus.
Boeing, one of the stocks hardest-hit by the pandemic, also said late Thursday that it will resume production of passenger jets in Washington state next week. It suspended work late last month after workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
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