Stocks up about 2% across the board as reopening plans develop
The major averages are moving higher as an easing of lockdowns underpins optimism that the worst may be behind. Today's strength in the Nasdaq has pushed the tech-heavy index back to within striking distance of moving into the green for the year, underscoring the way in which some of the biggest names in tech - like Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) - are helping to support the broader market.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In U.S. data, the trade deficit widened 11.6% to $44.4B in March. Exports and imports both fell by slightly more than expected in the month, but the gap was exactly as estimated.
Markit's services index was bumped down to 26.7 in the final April print. This is down from the 27.0 flash reading and down 13.1 points from March's 39.8 figure. The ISM-nonmanufacturing composite index slumped 10.7 points to 41.8 in April.
TOP NEWS: Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) announced that the first participants have been dosed in the U.S. in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19. This U.S. trial is part of a global development program, and the dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed last week, the companies noted.
L Brands (LB) announced a mutual agreement with Sycamore Partners to terminate their previously announced transaction that would have created a joint-venture used to spin Victoria's Secret and other assets into a separate, standalone company. As part of the announcement, L Brands said it remains committed to establishing Bath & Body Works as a pure-play public company and is taking the necessary steps to prepare the Victoria's Secret Lingerie, Victoria's Secret Beauty and PINK businesses to operate separately.
Shares of Wayfair (W) have jumped 24% after the company reported better than expected revenue in the first quarter, telling investors that "millions of new shoppers have discovered Wayfair while they shelter in place at home, and we are seeing strong acceleration in new and repeat customer orders across almost all classes of goods and across all regions."
Shares of Hertz (HTZ) are down 14% after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company had tapped another restructuring adviser for its planned bankruptcy.
In M&A news, Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) announced an agreement to acquire Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLA) at a price of $18 per share in cash. Alexion said that the deal "will add near-term diversification to Alexion's commercial portfolio and provides the opportunity to apply the company's demonstrated global commercial excellence to create long-term value for patients and shareholders."
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Akebia (AKBA), which surged 36% after it reported positive results from its INNO2VATE Phase 3 program and reported quarterly results.
Also higher after reporting quarterly results were Chegg (CHGG) and Trex (TREX), which gained a respective 36% and 9%.
Among the notable losers was Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), which dropped 20% after it announced a series of fundraising transactions and offerings.
Also lower were Itron (ITRI) and Unum Group (UNM), which fell 17% and 7%, respectively, after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 404.51, or 1.70%, to 24,154.27, the Nasdaq was up 180.23, or 2.07%, to 8,890.94, and the S&P 500 was up 54.27, or 1.91%, to 2,897.01.