NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks charged higher around the world today following an encouraging report on a possible treatment for COVID-19. The S&P closed 2.7% higher after Gilead Sciences said its experimental drug proved effective against the new coronavirus in a major U.S. government study that put it to a strict test. The S&P rose 76.12 points to 2,939.51. It has surged 13.7% in April, and it’s a day away from closing out its best month since late 1974. The Dow rose 532.31, or 2.2%, to 24,633.86, and the Nasdaq climbed 306.98, or 3.6%, to 8,914.71.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says it will keep its key short-term interest rate near zero for the foreseeable future as part of its extraordinary efforts to bolster an economy that is sinking into its worst crisis since the 1930s. The Fed says it will also continue to buy Treasury and mortgage bonds to help keep rates low and ensure that companies can continue to lend easily to each other amid a near-paralysis of the economy caused by the coronavirus. The central bank did not specify any amounts or timing for its bond purchases.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hopes are beginning to arise that the U.S. economy might be poised to rebound by the second half of the year. The idea is that the economy might be able to mount a sharp comeback if more employees and consumers were to gradually return to working and spending. Yet most economists say such expectations should be kept in check. Among their concerns is that the coronavirus could flare up again after the economy is re-opened, forcing reopened businesses to shut down again. Another is that people will remain too wary of contracting the coronavirus to return to anything resembling normal economic behavior.
REDMOND, Washington (AP) — Ongoing demand for Microsoft's cloud computing services helped softened the blow of the coronavirus pandemic on the software giant's other products in the first three months of the year. The company reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $10.75 billion, up 22% from the same period last year. Net income of $1.40 per share beat Wall Street expectations. The software maker posted revenue of $35.02 billion in the January-March period, up 15% from last year. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting Microsoft to earn $1.27 per share on revenue of $33.8 billion for the January-March quarter.
DETROIT (AP) — Tesla eked out a small first-quarter net profit. The company said it made $16 million from January through March, or 8 cents per share. It appears the virus is forcing Tesla to dial back its forecast to produce more than 500,000 vehicles in 2020. The company said it’s uncertain how quickly its California plant can ramp up after being shut down due to the virus. Excluding one-time items, Tesla earned $1.24 per share. That easily beat Wall Street estimates of a 28-cent-per-share loss, according to Factset.