Stocks jump as investors rally behind the idea of reopening the economy.
Stocks in the United States rallied on Friday, with efforts to reopen the economy taking center stage and investors undeterred by more data showing the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The gains came after President Trump told governors on Thursday that they could begin reopening businesses in their states by May 1 or earlier, and Boeing — one of the nation’s largest manufacturers — said it plans to bring about 27,000 employees back to work in Washington State to resume aircraft production.
The announcement is the first attempt at large-scale resumption of business activity by a U.S. corporation since the coronavirus outbreak forced companies and government officials to shut down most nonessential work. Boeing’s shares rose 11 percent on Friday.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent in early trading. European markets were also trading 3 to 4 percent higher after an upbeat day in Asia.
After global stock markets nose-dived earlier this year, they have been rebounding since late March, as investors have routinely looked past evidence of the damage caused by stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns, and instead focused on hopes for an eventual recovery.
On Friday, the rally came after China reported that its economy — the world’s second largest — shrank for the first time in decades. And data on car sales in Europe showed they collapsed.
Some also saw hopeful signs in a report by the medical news website STAT that a drug from Gilead Sciences showed early — and, thus far, unproven — promise in fighting the coronavirus. According to STAT, the antiviral drug, remdesivir, has helped patients with severe symptoms recover rapidly in a clinical trial at a Chicago hospital.
Still, without data from rigorous trials with control groups, it is impossible to know how effective the drug actually is. The National Institutes of Health is conducting a trial in which patients receive remdesivir or a placebo. The results will be known within weeks.
Two weeks ago, Gilead altered two of its trials midstream. It increased the size of a study of patients with severe disease from 400 patients to 2,400 and increased the size of a trial of patients with moderate disease from 600 to 1600 patients — moves that could allow the company to spot subtle effects if the drug was not making a dramatic difference in outcomes.
Over the past decade, far more workers who are eligible for Social Security have been waiting to file, often substantially increasing their lifetime annual benefits.
But the stunning job losses in the pandemic-induced economic crisis could bring this trend to a crashing halt, as suddenly unemployed older workers without substantial savings scramble to meet living expenses.
Even in good times, there is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to timing a claim — your longevity, savings and any other pension income are important factors. Now the decision is complicated by the highly uncertain outlook for the economy, jobs and financial markets.
But even if you need Social Security income immediately, you may have options worth considering that can boost lifetime benefits. Our Retiring columnist, Mark Miller, walks you through the key questions to consider.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday morning that the country’s economic output shrank 6.8 percent from January through March compared to the same period last year. It’s the first economic shrinkage acknowledged in official statistics since 1976, when the country was in the final days of the Cultural Revolution, a national spasm of urban violence and torture.
The stark numbers reflect China’s dramatic efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, which included shutting down most factories and offices in January and February as the outbreak sickened tens of thousands of people.
They also illustrate how hard it will be to get the global economy back on its feet.
China is trying to restart its vast, $14 trillion economy, an effort that could give the rest of the world a much-needed shot in the arm. But the spread of the virus to Europe and the United States has sharply cut the world’s appetite for China’s goods. That could lead to factory shutdowns and worker furloughs.
Since the coronavirus outbreak reached the United States, Amazon — a company built on the promise that people will always want more items, more quickly — has struggled to respond to a surge in orders. Sometimes products are in stock. Sometimes they aren’t. Its popular page featuring Deals of the Day, once a prominent feature, has been buried. The company is even trying to tamp down demand.
For consumers, the changes have generated confusion just as people have turned more than ever to online shopping to help protect themselves from the virus. The company tells customers that some products will arrive in weeks, rather than hours or days. And the sense of endless bounty on the site has eroded.
“It is almost like a run on the bank, when there is a rumor you can’t get your money out and everyone runs to the A.T.M.,” said Guru Hariharan, whose company, CommerceIQ, advises large consumer brands with their Amazon business.
New data on Friday gave the first concrete indication of how severely European carmakers were hit by coronavirus lockdowns, and it was every bit as bad as feared.
New car registrations in the European Union fell 55 percent last month compared to a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said, as dealers closed their doors and buyers were stuck in their homes. Owners registered 570,000 new cars during the month, down from 1.3 million in March 2019.
Sales all but evaporated in Italy, the European country that went into lockdown the earliest, falling 85 percent. Spain and France also suffered declines of around 70 percent.
Carmakers that depend on southern Europe for sales also suffered the most. Fiat Chrysler sales plummeted 77 percent. PSA, whose brands include Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, suffered a 68 percent plunge in sales.
German carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen fared marginally better, with declines of less than 50 percent.
Bill Gates is the latest target of false, right-wing conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.
In a 2015 speech, Bill Gates warned that the greatest risk to humanity was not nuclear war but an infectious virus that could threaten the lives of millions of people.
That speech has resurfaced in recent weeks with 25 million new views on YouTube — but not in the way that Mr. Gates probably intended.
Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world’s richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system. Mr. Gates, 64, the Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, has now become the star of an explosion of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus outbreak. In posts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he is being falsely portrayed as the creator of the virus, as a profiteer from a vaccine, and as part of a dastardly plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population.
The wild claims have gained traction with conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham and anti-vaccinators such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as Mr. Gates has emerged as a vocal counterweight to President Trump on the coronavirus. For weeks, Mr. Gates has appeared on TV, on op-ed pages and in Reddit forums calling for stay-at-home policies, expanded testing and vaccine development. And without naming Mr. Trump, he has criticized the president’s policies, including this week’s move to cut funding to the World Health Organization.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
Ford Motor said it expected to report a $2 billion loss for the first quarter, on revenue of $34 billion. The announcement came in a regulatory filing ahead of a full quarterly report on April 28. The automaker said earlier this week that its first-quarter wholesale volume was down 21 percent from a year earlier, mainly because of the outbreak’s impact on production and demand. It said last month that it was suspending its dividend and any share buybacks.
Procter & Gamble, the consumer products giant, reported a big jump in sales for the quarter as consumers stocked up on paper towels, toilet paper and diapers. P&G reported that organic net sales rose five percent to $17.2 billion. The company said increased shipments in North America and some parts of Europe offset declines in some Asian markets.
Amazon’s acquisition of Deliveroo, a food delivery service, was given preliminary approval by Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority. The regulator said it would allow the deal to progress because Deliveroo’s failure could be even more damaging to competition in the market.
Britain’s strained National Health Service is turning toward British luxury firms to ramp up production of medical protective gear. Burberry is supplying the N.H.S. with nonsurgical gowns made at its trench coat factory in England. Barbour has started production of 23,000 disposable gowns, producing nearly 1,500 a day.
USAA, which serves military members and their families, will temporarily change its policies on overdrawn accounts to let customers collect stimulus money. The New York Times had reported that the financial services company was not allowing those customers to access the funds.
Reporting was contributed by Daisuke Wakabayashi, Davey Alba, Gina Kolata, Jack Ewing, Abdi Latif Dahir, Simon Marks, Karen Weise, Julie Creswell, Marc Tracy, Elaine Yu, Kevin McKenna, Nelson D. Schwartz, Kate Conger, Katie Thomas, Erin Griffith, Emily Flitter, Alan Rappeport, Brooks Barnes, Keith Bradsher, Amie Tsang, Geneva Abdul, Niraj Chokshi, Vindu Goel, Carlos Tejada and Mike Ives. Yiwei Wang and Coral Yang contributed research.