Stocks Rally, Dow Rises 700 Points On News Of Gilead’s Possible Coronavirus Treatment

Despite dismal economic data earlier this week, the stock market jumped on Friday as investors became more optimistic about the coronavirus outlook, amid news overnight that Gilead Sciences’ Covid-19 treatment was showing signs of success in clinical trials with patients.

KEY FACTS

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 3%, nearly 700 points, while the S&P 500 gained 2.7% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.4%.

Stocks got a boost thanks to news overnight that biotech company Gilead Sciences has made a breakthrough in its clinical trial of antiviral drug Remdesivir, which showed promising results in treating coronavirus.

The phase 3 trial, conducted at the University of Chicago, found that most patients treated with the drug had “rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms,” according to the original report from STAT News.

Adding to Wall Street’s optimism about the virus outlook was a White House press conference on Thursday night, in which President Trump outlined his plans for getting the U.S. economy back up and running.

Trump said some states that met criteria for testing and a low number of new cases would be able to reopen “literally tomorrow,” though he made it clear that the onus remains on state governors, who would be calling their own shots on when to reopen.

The market also got a boost from the news that embattled airline carrier Boeing, which saw its stock plunge by as much as 75% during the coronavirus sell-off, would resume production in the Seattle area later this month.

Crucial statistics

Gilead’s stock jumped on the news Friday, rising almost 10%, while Boeing BA stock rebounded by more than 13%. Shares of several big-name stocks led the market higher this week, despite falling slightly on Friday: Amazon AMZN and Netflix NFLX both hit new record highs, up 14% and 16%, respectively, while shares of Walmart WMT rose nearly 9%.

KEY BACKGROUND

With Friday’s rally sending stocks higher, the S&P 500 notched its first back-to-back weekly gains since early February. The index rose over 2% this week, while the Nasdaq NDAQ gained over 5% and the Dow is up around 1%.

Crucial quotes

“Markets are responding to an outlook that is a far cry from the doomsday scenario projected in the latter days of March and early days of April,” says Peter Essele, head of portfolio management for Commonwealth Financial Network. “We’ve moved from depression to recession, with a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.”

“While there has never been any doubt that the U.S. economy would come back online at some point, these three events, taken together, raised optimism (although doesn’t guarantee) that the comeback will be sooner rather than later,” according to a note from Bespoke Investment Group.

What to watch for

“The true litmus test over the next month will be whether payroll cuts have spilled over into additional sectors of the economy beyond leisure and hospitality,” predicts Essele. “If that ends up being the case, it’s quite possible that markets will retest lows, as the economy will require more than a simple shot of adrenaline to put things back on course.”

Further reading

Here Are 29 ‘Get Out And Go’ Stocks For The End Of The Coronavirus Quarantine (Forbes)

Trump Says Some States Will Be Able To Open ‘Literally Tomorrow’ If They Want To (Forbes)

Stocks Fall, Dow Tumbles 400 Points After Retail Collapse And Weak Bank Earnings (Forbes)

This Week’s Economic Data Is Concerning: Here Are The Latest Reports Showing The Impact Of Coronavirus (Forbes)

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I am a New York—based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news, with a focus on financial topics. Previously, I wrote about investing for Money Magazine and was an intern at Forbes in 2015 and 2016. I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018, majoring in International Relations and Modern History. Follow me on Twitter @skleb1234 or email me at sklebnikov@forbes.com

Source: Stocks Rally, Dow Rises 700 Points On News Of Gilead’s Possible Coronavirus Treatment

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China Stocks Face Increased Scrutiny After TAL Education And Luckin Coffee Reveal Inflated Sales

Staff wear protective masks at a Luckin Coffee shop

Chinese companies seeking financing in the U.S. are coming up against increased scrutiny after accounting scandals emerged from two high-profile firms, casting doubts over plans for new listings and other financing plans.

TAL Education, a New York-listed education firm run by Chinese billionaire Zhang Bangxin, revealed on Tuesday that an employee is suspected of conspiring with outside vendors to inflate sales. The news sent shares of TAL down almost 9% as of Thursday, wiping out $878 million from Zhang’s fortune.

TAL said the employee in question was taken into police custody, and the affected business unit, called Light Class, accounted for 3% to 4% of its annual revenue.

The announcement came less than a week after Luckin Coffee, a Xiamen-based chain that once positioned itself as a challenger to Starbucks, admitted that more than $300 million of last year’s sales had been fabricated. Analysts say the scandals will undermine investors’ confidence in Chinese firms, adding to the challenges of raising capital in an already difficult market.

“There is no denying that investors are now doubting Chinese companies, especially those touting high growth and new business models,” says Zhu Ning, deputy dean at Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Data provider Dealogic says there are currently 15 Chinese companies planning to each raise between $10 million to $125 million in the U.S.

Zhu says it’s likely that regulatory scrutiny will step up, and the new listings might not reach their desired valuations or attract much interest from institutional investors. He says the risk extends to all forms of financing including issuing debt, meaning companies will need to offer higher returns to appeal to potential lenders.

Luckin’s market cap, which had been as high as $10 billion in early March, had fallen to $1.1 billion before the company’s shares were suspended from trading on April 6. The Nasdaq is seeking additional information from Luckin.

Brock Silvers, managing director of Hong Kong-based Adamas Asset Management, points to wider accounting problems in China, where the COVID-19 pandemic has taken such a heavy toll on so much of the economy.

“It is extremely unlikely that Luckin and TAL are the only two fish in the sea,” he wrote in an emailed note. “The underlying problem is that in recent years China investment has outstripped China profitability. That creates massive pressure, both corporate and personal, to produce unachievable results.”

Another Chinese company was defending itself against similar allegations of false accounting on Wednesday. Shares of Nasdaq-listed video streaming site iQiyi initially dropped 4.6% but recovered loss the following day after it was accused by Wolfpack Research of inflating 2019 results and user numbers. iQiyi denied the allegations, saying the report contains “numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements and misleading conclusions and interpretations.”

Still, lawmakers in the U.S. are likely to seize on recent accounting scandals, and there will be renewed pressure for tighter oversight of China-based auditing firms, says Drew Bernstein, co-chairman of New York-based accounting firm MarcumBP. Citing national security reasons, Beijing has long resisted inspections of the China-based offices of the Big Four accounting firms by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which oversees accounting professionals who provide audit reports of U.S.-traded public companies.

To push for compliance, lawmakers from both parties introduced last June a bill to force U.S.-listed Chinese companies to submit audit reports to U.S. regulators, or face delisting. In response to the Luckin scandal, China’s securities regulator, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, says it condemns this behavior and would crack down on securities fraud in line with international laws.

“While delisting of Chinese stocks remains as a “nuclear option,” I see that as a low probability,” Bernstein says. “If we see cross-border cooperation emerge among regulators, that would be a very positive outcome from this.”

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I am a Beijing-based writer covering China’s technology sector. I contribute to Forbes, and previously I freelanced for SCMP and Nikkei. Prior to Beijing, I spent six months as an intern at TIME magazine’s Hong Kong office. I am a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Email: ywywyuewang@gmail.com Twitter: @yueyueyuewang

Source: China Stocks Face Increased Scrutiny After TAL Education And Luckin Coffee Reveal Inflated Sales

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