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Dow closes with gain of more than 1,600 points

"This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives," Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned.
Image: New York Stock Exchange
Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

Wall Street surged Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up almost 1,600 points as a decline in death rates in Europe led to optimism that social distancing measures are having an impact.

All three major averages were up by around 7 percent Monday, their best performances in more than a week.

The British pound fell late Monday on news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms "worsened," according to a statement from his office. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, who has led emergency meetings in Johnson's place, has been officially deputized to fill in.

While death rates declined in Spain and Italy, two of the worst affected countries in Europe, White House officials have warned that the U.S. is entering what could be the worst week of the coronavirus crisis.

"This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Sunday in an interview with Fox News.

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Oil rallied overnight and into Monday following reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia were working to set aside their differences after a production agreement ended last month. With the price of crude oil recovering only slightly from a decline of almost 30 percent, OPEC has moved its virtual meeting from Monday to Thursday to discuss output cuts with Russia.

Gold, a traditional safe haven asset, also rose Monday as investors fled riskier markets, such as equities.

The declining rates in parts of Europe pushed up the Stoxx, an index of European stocks, by around 2.5 percent. However, the number of cases accelerated in parts of France.

New York state, the center of the coronavirus pandemic, had its first daily decline in coronavirus-related deaths Sunday. However, the death rate increased in such states as Michigan and Louisiana.

"We see light at the end of the tunnel," President Donald Trump said at a coronavirus task force news briefing Sunday, but he said the U.S. was still facing a "great hour of grief."

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In other market news, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned in his annual letter to shareholders that the U.S. should expect a "bad recession" that would be "similar to the global financial crisis of 2008."

Stocks closed out the first week of the second quarter on a low after new employment data underscored the pandemic's impact on the economy.

Monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that payrolls fell by 701,000 in March, and the nation's unemployment rate has soared to 4.4 percent after months at a half-century low.