Stocks – U.S. Futures Surge; Gilead Shines, P&G Scrubs up Well

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Investing.com – U.S. stocks are set to open strongly higher Friday, as investors look forward to states reopening their economies and grasp at hopes for a cure to the coronavirus.

At 7:15 AM ET (1115 GMT), S&P 500 futures traded 85 points, or 3.1%, higher, Nasdaq futures up 203 points, or 2.3%. The Dow futures contract rose 770 points, or 3.3%.

President Donald Trump laid out new guidelines late Thursday for states to emerge from a coronavirus shutdown in a staggered, three-stage approach.

The recommendations call on states to show a “downward trajectory” of Covid-19 cases or positive tests for the disease over 14 days before gradually loosening restrictions on businesses that have been shuttered to blunt the spread of the virus.

Adding to the positive tone was a media report detailing encouraging partial data from trials of Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) Sciences’ experimental drug remdesivir in severe Covid-19 patients. Gilead played down the report, saying the trials were incomplete, but its shares have soared 13% in premarket trading.

This news has overshadowed continued weak domestic economic data as well as a slump in China’s gross domestic product, which fell 6.8% in the first quarter, the first drop in almost three decades of records. Monthly data showed industrial production rebounding faster than retail sales as China’s lockdown eased.

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)  fiscal third-quarter earnings beat expectations earlier, with organic sales rising 6%, although it has pulled its guidance for the full year. The company boosted its dividend by 6% earlier this week.

Also in the spotlight will be Boeing (NYSE:BA), after it said it would restart some commercial airplane production next week, and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), which said late Thursday that it will receive up to $483 million from the U.S. government to accelerate development of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Elsewhere, Uber (NYSE:UBER) said late Thursday that it was withdrawing guidance and warned it would write down some $2 billion of investments. 

The oil market has seen strong selling in the front month May WTI contract, with extreme levels of oversupply evident in the physical market for both oil and gas, but this has not been replicated in the subsequent contracts.

This market will get more data on the extent of the slowdown in U.S. production when Baker Hughes releases its rig count at 1 PM ET (17:00 GMT).

The oil rig count came in at 504 last week. It was up around 678 at the end of February.

At 7:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 5.8% lower at $18.70 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 3.1% to $28.68.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 1.5% to $1,705.20/oz, while EUR/USD traded at $1.0844, up 0.1%.

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