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Stock market news live updates: S&P 500 closes at highest since March 5

Emily McCormick
·9 min read

Stocks jumped Tuesday, and the S&P 500 traded above 3,000 for the first time since March 5, as hopes for an effective coronavirus vaccine combined with optimism over updates around states’ reopenings and better than expected new economic data.

[Click here to read what’s moving markets heading into Wednesday, May 27]

Stocks pared some gains, however, after Bloomberg reported Tuesday afternoon that the U.S. was considering sanctioning Chinese officials and firms over new national security efforts imposed on Hong Kong.

Individual companies and institutions announced new developments around potential coronavirus treatments and vaccines over the long weekend. Merck (MRK) announced on Tuesday a suite of new efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including two agreements with other institutions to work toward developing a Covid-19 vaccine and antiviral treatment. Novavax (NVAX) said Monday it began human testing of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, and expects preliminary results around the trial in July.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to temporarily pause its trial testing hydroxycholoroquine as a coronavirus treatment due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing, while noting “other arms of the trial are continuing.” Recently, President Donald Trump has touted the anti-malarial drug, typically used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, as a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, and said in a media interview Sunday he had finished taking a two-week course of hydroxychloroquine.

Developments around the coronavirus outbreak still remained front and center for many market participants, though signs of improving consumer behavior in the U.S. after weeks of social distancing have recently started to take hold.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data showed the number of travelers passing through checkpoints north of 250,000 for each of Saturday and Sunday, which, while still well below the more than 2 million during the same days last year, was well above the just 87,534 travelers from mid-April. And data from the hospitality firm STR showed hotel occupancy increased to 32.4% for the most recently reported week ended May 16, up from 21.0% the period ended April 11.

“In the wake of the easing lockdowns, the economy is beginning to pick itself up from the floor, though the monthly indicators will be grim for the next few weeks because of the lags in data collection and publication,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note. And still, many economists are forecasting double-digit percentage declines in second-quarter gross domestic product on an annualized basis, given the economic weakness in April and much of May.

Other economists echoed these sentiments in the wake of estimates-topping economic data Tuesday morning. New home sales unexpectedly rose in April, and consumer confidence ticked up slightly after two months of steep declines.

“Net, net, the worst may be over for the economy if new home sales and consumer confidence are important for setting the economy's sails in a new direction away from the stormy seas of recession,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Union Bank, said in an email. “The economic data have been so darn grim lately with job losses in the tens of millions that the green shoots of optimism from better consumer confidence and new home sales are welcome. We still can't see a V-shaped recovery, but at least this is looking like the shortest recession in history which will be measured in months not years.”

Overall, U.S. Covid-19 cases rose 1.3%, or less than the past week’s average, from Sunday to Monday, according to data from Bloomberg News and Johns Hopkins University. The domestic death toll edged up by less than by less than 1% to just under 98,000 as of Monday.

4:06 p.m. ET: S&P 500 closes at highest since March 5

Here’s where markets had settled as of 4:06 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +36.32 (+1.23%) to 2,991.77

  • Dow (^DJI): +529.95 (+2.17%) to 24,995.11

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +15.63 (+0.17%) to 9,340.22

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.86 (+2.59%) to $34.11 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$30.80 (-1.77%) to $1,704.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +4.1 bps to yield 0.6980%

2:45 p.m. ET: Crude oil jumps 3.3% to settle at an 11-week high

Front contracts for West Texas intermediate crude oil rose 3.3%, or $1.10, to $34.35 per barrel on Tuesday, as hopes of easing lockdown restrictions added to hope of a pick-up in travel and fuel demand. The settlement marked the highest level for the commodity prices in nearly three months.

Brent crude oil, the international standard, also settled higher by about 3% Tuesday afternoon to $36.17 per barrel.

1:13 p.m. ET: Stocks hold onto gains, Dow adds 600+ points

Here were the main moves in markets as of 1:14 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +55.69 points (+1.88%) to 3,011.14

  • Dow (^DJI): +666.2 points (+2.72%) to 25,131.36

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +86.78 points (+0.93%) to 9,411.37

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.74 (+2.23%) to $33.99 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$29.90 (-1.72%) to $1,705.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +4.2 bps to yield 0.701%

10:40 a.m. ET: Six Flags stock jumps 12% after company announces theme park reopenings

Six Flag (SIX) said it plans to reopen its Oklahoma City theme park on June 5, albeit with limited capacity, temperature checks, face masks and other new safety protocol in place. Initial attendance will be restricted to members and season-pass holders, but will increase through June, the company said.

Shares of Six Flags leapt 12% before paring some gains following the announcement.

10:04 a.m. ET: New home sales unexpectedly rise in April

Sales of new homes rose slightly in April following a steep drop-off a month earlier, the Census Bureau said in its monthly report Tuesday.

New home sales rose 0.6% from March to an annualized pace of 623,000. This followed a 13.7% decline to 619,000 in March, which was slightly upwardly revised from the 15.4% decline previously reported.

Consensus economists expected new home sales to fall 23.4% to an annualized rate of 480,000 in April, according to Bloomberg consensus data.

10:02 a.m. ET: Consumer confidence rises slightly in May

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence index edged up in May, indicating a stabilization from the depths of the downturn a month earlier.

The headline Consumer Confidence index rose to 86.6 in May from 85.7 in May. Subindices measuring consumers’ expectations on the short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions also rose to 96.9, from 94.3 in April. However, the subindex measuring consumers’ assessment of present situations fell slightly to 71.1, from 73.0 in April.

"Following two months of rapid decline, the free-fall in Confidence stopped in May," Lynn Franco, Senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

"The severe and widespread impact of COVID-19 has been mostly reflected in the Present Situation Index, which has plummeted nearly 100 points since the onset of the pandemic,” Franco added. “Short-term expectations moderately increased as the gradual re-opening of the economy helped improve consumers' spirits. However, consumers remain concerned about their financial prospects.

9:51 a.m. ET: S&P 500 rallies more than 32% from March 23 lows, for its fastest advance of this magnitude since 2009

At more than 3,000, the S&P 500 was up more than 32% from its closing low of 2,237.4 as of intraday trading Tuesday.

According to an analysis from S&P Global’s Howard Silverblatt, this was the steepest move in 43 trading days since May 2009, when the S&P 500 moved higher by 37.35%.

Still, the S&P 500 is down about 8.5% for the year to date and is down about 12.7% from its closing high of 3,386.15 from February 19.

9:32 a.m. ET: Stocks surge at the open

Here were the main moves in markets as of 9:32 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +61.66 points (+2.09%) to 3,017.11

  • Dow (^DJI): +582.57 points (+2.38%) to 25,047.73

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +148.38 points (+1.59%) to 9,472.96

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.13 (+3.4%) to $34.38 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$11.30 (-0.65%) to $1,724.20 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +3.6 bps to yield 0.695%

7:29 a.m. ET: New York Stock Exchange set to reopen trading floor for the first time since March

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is set to reopen its trading floors Tuesday for the first time since March 20, after the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures forced one of the most iconic symbols of U.S. capital markets to close its doors and go fully electronic.

The reopening, however, will still come with restrictions. Only a fraction of staff previously physically in the building will return to work there to facilitate social distancing, and workers will need to wear protective masks and be screened for signs of the virus before entering.

7:20 a.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures hold onto gains, jump more than 1.5%

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:20 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,007.25, up 1.84 points (+1.84%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 24,908.00, up 484 points (+1.98%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 9,562.5, up 156.25 points (+1.66%)

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.86 (+2.59%) to $34.11 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$10.50 (-0.61%) to $1,725.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +3.1 bps to yield 0.69%

6:01 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures open higher

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:01 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 2,986.5, up 33.5 points (+1.13%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 24,692.00, up 268 points (+1.1%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 9,517.75, up 111.5 points (+1.19%)

A traffic signal flashes green outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, September 30, 2008.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES)
A traffic signal flashes green outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, September 30, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES)

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