Wall Street turns higher as Trump promises cures, cash

(Reuters) – Wall Street pushed into positive territory on Thursday as policymakers pulled out all the stops to try and stave off a deep and lasting coronavirus-driven recession and its damaging fallout on corporate America.

President Trump, in a now regular update for Americans hunkered down in their homes, said there were therapies that he believed could be rolled out quickly, and sounded upbeat on the chances of agreeing hundreds of billions of dollars of aid with Congress.

In its latest move to stabilize panicked markets, the U.S. Federal Reserve also opened swap lines with central banks in nine new countries to ensure the world’s dollar-dependent financial system continued to function.

That was the latest in a host of emergency actions taken by the U.S. central bank over the last two weeks, including cutting borrowing costs to near zero and providing billions more for cheap credit.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) was the latest major U.S. corporation to bolster its cash reserves to ride out the virus impact, drawing down more than $15 billion from existing credit lines.

“We have had some pretty bold moves by the Fed in the last week or two and most of them have had a very short-lived impact on the market so hopefully this one will help,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“It speaks also to the fact that when they cut rates to zero a lot of people had commented that they thought maybe the Fed is out of bullets if you will, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. It sounds like they have lots of tools still available to them and this is just another one of them.”

The gains remained small compared to the almost one third collapse in the value of the S&P in the past month. The Nasdaq, led by gains for Microsoft (MSFT.O), Amazon.com (AMZN.O) and Facebook (FB.O) rose 3.5%.

The S&P airlines index, down roughly 60% this year, inched up 0.4% .SPCOMAIR. Hotel operator Marriott International Inc (MAR.O) pulled its 2020 financial outlook, but its shares rose more than 8%.

Accenture Plc (ACN.N) cut its full-year revenue and earnings outlook, citing an impact from the coronavirus outbreak. However, its shares also rose 8%.

Wall Street’s worst selloff since the 2008 sub-prime crisis has deepened this week and the Dow erased the last of its gains under Donald Trump’s presidency on Wednesday.

Official data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged to 2-1/2-year high last week as companies in the services sector laid off workers because of the coronavirus pandemic that has fractured economic activity.

New York Stock Exchange-owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE.N) said the market would temporarily close its trading floors and move fully to electronic trading starting next week.

At 11:55 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 399.59 points, or 2.01%, at 20,298.51, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 48.42 points, or 2.02%, at 2,446.52. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 247.43 points, or 3.54%, at 7,237.27.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.37-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.28-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 3 new 52-week highs and 85 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and 477 new lows.

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