The week on Wall Street

Stock prices pushed higher last week as news of a White House plan to reopen the economy and reports of a potential COVID-19 treatment helped the market overcome weak economic data and an ugly start to the corporate earnings season.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.21%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 advanced 3.04%. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 6.09% for the week. The MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slumped 1.75%.1,2,3

Reality Hits

Until last week, the extent of the economic damage from COVID-19 lacked a lot of hard data. With the release of retail sales (down 8.7% for March), industrial production (down 5.4% in March), and new jobless claims of 5.2 million (bringing the four-week total to 22 million), the scope of economic trouble became clearer.4,5,6

Stocks wavered throughout the week as investors digested the economic data and balanced the reports against signs that the pandemic may have peaked. With news of a plan to restart the economy and promising test results of a COVID-19 treatment, market sentiment turned positive, sending stocks higher on the final day of trading and cementing the second consecutive week of gains.

Corporate Earnings

Large banks kicked off the quarterly earnings season, reporting declines in profits as they hiked loan loss reserves and saw a contraction in consumer credit card use. The large loan loss reserves represent a sobering view on just how much the banks believe small businesses and consumers may be affected by the economic downturn.

Final Thought

With bank earnings reports, investors got an important – but limited – view of the state of the economy. This week’s earnings reports are expected to provide a much broader cross-section of the economy, with a number of consumer products, technology, industrial, transportation, and communication services companies reporting.

I contributed to this top story for Fox News:

On coronavirus, China and WHO show they’ve learned little after 2003 SARS outbreak

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