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Wall Street started the week with a big rally.
Stocks rallied on Monday as investors seized on signals that the coronavirus outbreak may be peaking in some of the world’s worst-hit places.
The number of new confirmed deaths and infections is slowing in parts of Europe, and the number of deaths in New York has been steady for two days. In Italy and Spain, the total number of patients continues to climb, but the rate of new infections is no longer rising.
Wall Street analysts have been closely tracking the growth path of infections, with some spotlighting recent news as an indication that the outbreak could be near a peak in the United States. Analysts highlighted the tentative deceleration of infections in New York as a good sign for other virus hot spots in the country, as well as for stock market sentiment.
“This does not mean that the all clear is immediate, nor does it mean that the U.S. economy will quickly recover. But the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to emerge,” Dan Clifton, a partner at Strategas Research Partners, a financial and economic consulting firm, wrote in a note.
The optimism drove shares sharply higher. The S&P 500 rose 7 percent, its biggest gain since March 24, when it climbed more than 9 percent.
Some areas of the market that have been hit hardest by shutdowns of economic activity soared. The hotel chain Marriott and the casino company Wynn Resorts, for example, each rose more than 15 percent. Credit card companies also rallied, after being hammered by soaring unemployment in recent weeks, which makes people less likely to pay their bills. Capital One and Discover Financial both jumped more than 15 percent.
Still, there was a strong defensive tilt to trading. The utilities sector — typically an area dominated by risk-averse investors — was one of the best performing in the S&P 500, with a gain of almost 8 percent.
That suggests investors still see plenty of reason to be cautious.
The slow of the spread of the disease is a good first step in reducing the impact on hospitals, but it still could take some time to open the economy more broadly. On Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York cautioned that the state was still facing an emergency.
A more widespread approach to testing that gives companies and consumers confidence that life is returning to some semblance of normal will be crucial, Scott Clemons, the chief investment strategist for private banking at Brown Brothers Harriman, wrote in an email.
“Progress on that front, or the lack thereof, is a potential source of future market volatility,” Mr. Clemons wrote. “I don’t think we’re out of the woods quite yet.”
A technical breakdown leads to a ‘logjam’ in small-business relief program.
A system at the center of the Small Business Administration’s $349 billion small-business lending plan experienced significant technical difficulties on Monday, locking out some lenders just days into the program.
Some banks were not able to use E-Tran, a database that acts as a link between lenders applying for loans and the S.B.A., as the platform slowed down on Monday, several people said.
“None of our lenders are able to submit loans right now,” said Blake Brock, the chief executive of Lendio, a marketplace for small-business loans. “We have billions in applications that are completely logjammed.”
The system had already experienced a slowdown on Friday, the first day of the program, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and the chairman of the small-business committee, said in a tweet this weekend. According to one Washington bank lobbyist, one large bank reported that it took 72 minutes on Sunday night to enter one loan application and the E-Tran system crashed 13 times during the process.
But the outage may not have affected every lender. Frank Sorrentino, the chief executive of ConnectOne Bank, said his bank had been processing applications all day. He said if E-Tran had gone down, he had not heard about it, but his bank had experienced some slowness on the portal that they attributed to the volume of submissions.
ConnectOne has received more than 2,000 applications so far and has processed a “significant” portion of them, Mr. Sorrentino said.
The small-business agency is being closely watched for its ability to distribute the loans, which are meant to help businesses make payroll as the nation’s consumers are locked down to avoid being infected with the coronavirus.
An S.B.A. spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Second U.S. company announces early trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that it would begin a small safety test of a potential coronavirus vaccine in adults in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo.
Up to 40 healthy adult volunteers will get the Inovio vaccine as part of the first trial. Each volunteer will receive two doses of the vaccine — each dose four weeks apart — and the company expects to have initial results from the study by late summer.
Its product is the second vaccine candidate to start early human trials in the United States. Researchers began testing a vaccine candidate developed by the biotech company Moderna in Seattle in mid-March.
Inovio’s candidate packages a piece of the coronavirus genetic code inside synthetic DNA. This approach has the advantage of being faster to produce and tends to be more stable than traditional vaccines, which require the production of a weakened version of the actual virus or viral proteins to induce an immune response.
There is no treatment or vaccine against the coronavirus, although several companies around the world have announced that they are developing vaccines. A final product that would be widely available is still probably as long as 18 months away.
Inovio’s stock price jumped by almost 8 percent on Monday when the company announced the start of human trials. Shares have more than doubled since it began working on a coronavirus vaccine in January.
The Fed will support banks that lend to small businesses.
The Federal Reserve said on Monday that it would provide a backstop to banks making loans to small businesses as part of the government’s coronavirus-tied lending program, an effort to get financing to vulnerable companies.
Congress has made loans available to small businesses as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package it passed in March. The Fed said Monday that it would establish a program giving banks an incentive to lend under the so-called Paycheck Protection Program, which is supposed to funnel some $350 billion in loans to strapped companies.
While the central bank released few particulars — saying only that additional details would be announced this week — the program could take several forms, either making outright purchases of those loans once banks have extended them, or providing funding to the banks to help them lend.
The G20 is expected to meet this week over the oil glut.
Representatives of Group of 20 countries are expected to meet “very soon — this week” to address the enormous oversupply of oil on the world markets, Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in an interview Monday.
Mr. Birol, whose organization serves as an energy watchdog for industrialized nations, said that the glut of oil building in the market is too big for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia, to resolve. This group, known as OPEC Plus, is expected to meet by teleconference on Thursday, in part to resolve a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Mr. Birol said that even if these oil officials agreed to reduce production by 10 million barrels a day — a staggering amount equivalent to about 10 percent of consumption in normal times — there would still be a surplus this quarter of 15 million barrels a day, according to his agency’s numbers.
Initially, “there would be an upbeat mood in the market, but after a while people would realize there is still a huge amount of supply overhang,” he said.
Mr. Birol also said that he was worried about the fate of the global oil industry, which he called “one of the pillars of the global economy,” and its tens of millions of employees.
JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon expects a ‘bad recession.’
Jamie Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders is widely read on Wall Street — he often uses it to discuss not just the bank’s performance, but regulation, the economy and America’s role in the world. In his latest letter, published today, the chief executive of JPMorgan, America’s largest bank, says he expects “a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008.”
Companies have recently drawn down more than $50 billion from their credit lines with the bank, which “dramatically exceeds” the amount borrowers tapped during the last recession, Mr. Dimon wrote. Still, JPMorgan had nearly $300 billion in undrawn commitments at the end of last month, he added.
Like other banks, JPMorgan has waived some fees and extended repayment periods for mortgages, auto loans and the like. “We are exposing ourselves to billions of dollars of additional credit losses as we help both consumer and business customers through these difficult times,” Mr. Dimon wrote.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
Eric Artz, the chief executive of the outdoor apparel retailer REI, said on Monday that the company would furlough the majority of its employees for 90 days beginning April 15, but it will continue to provide health care and other benefits. Mr. Artz will forgo his salary for six months and senior executives will take a 20 percent pay cut.
Abercrombie & Fitch said on Monday that it would furlough its store employees in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America on April 12. The affected workers will still receive benefits. The retailer also announced it would cut the pay and work hours of some of its corporate employees and that its executive salaries would be reduced 10 percent to 33 percent.
3M and the Trump administration announced a plan to import 166.5 million masks, primarily from its manufacturing facility in China, over the next three months for U.S. health care workers. The plan will enable 3M to continue sending masks made in the United States to Canada and Latin America.
Airbnb said on Monday that it had raised $1 billion in new funding as it grapples with devastation from the coronavirus pandemic. The private equity giant Silver Lake and the hedge fund Sixth Street Partners led the investment, which was a mixture of equity and debt.
Fiat Chrysler said on Monday it would resume production at its plants in the United States and Canada starting on May 4, not April 14 as it had earlier planned. The automaker said it is redesigning workstations and procedures to enable factory workers to maintain social distancing when they return to the assembly lines.
Ralph Lauren said employees at its stores where retail operations are suspended and corporate workers whose jobs “are not conducive” to remote work will be furloughed after Saturday. Ralph Lauren, the company’s executive chairman and chief creative officer, will forgo his salary in 2021 while Patrice Louvet, the chief executive, will cut his salary by 50 percent during the crisis. About 140 business leaders will also take pay cuts of 20 percent for the first quarter of this fiscal year.
BMW said on Monday that it was extending the suspension of production at its plant in Spartanburg, S.C., by three weeks to at least April 30.
Boeing has extended the closing of its production operations in the Seattle area “until further notice” and suspended all operations related to the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina. The company’s work force has been hit hard by the pandemic and its business hurt by the grounding of the travel industry. Airbus, a Boeing competitor, said on Monday that it was pausing production at a facility in Mobile, Ala.
Allstate said on Monday that it would return 15 percent of customers’ premiums for April and May to most of its auto insurance customers, while American Family Insurance said it would issue customers one-time payments of $50 per vehicle. Tom Wilson, Allstate’s chief executive, cited “an unprecedented decline in driving” as the reason for the refunds. “Less driving means fewer accidents.”
Reporting was contributed by Erin Griffith, Dave McCabe, Emily Flitter, Knvul Sheikh, Sapna Maheshwari, Karen Weise, Alan Rappeport, Ron Lieber, Kate Conger, Ben Dooley, Cade Metz, Jeanna Smialek, Stanley Reed, Niraj Chokshi, Nicole Sperling, Neal E. Boudette, Eduardo Porter, Jason Karaian, Jack Ewing, Mohammed Hadi, Katie Robertson, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor.