Markets close on a high as talk turns to reopening the economy

President Donald Trump is expected to announce an economic panel of business leaders and other experts, a group he calls the "opening our country council."
Image: New York Stock Exchange
While New York remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the number of fatalities in his state appear to be slowing.Johannes Eisele / AFP - Getty Images

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By Lucy Bayly

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a gain of 500 points on Tuesday, as investors digested optimistic news about coronavirus testing and renewed hope that the economy will reopen sooner rather than later.

The S&P 500 saw gains of 2.6 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was up by around 3.6 percent, boosted by Amazon shares hitting an all-time high.

While New York remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the number of fatalities in his state appear to be slowing.

"Thank God we can control the spread,” he said during a press conference. "If you look at the past few days of the number of lives lost, it’s basically flat — at a devastating level of pain and grief.”

President Donald Trump, who has been pushing for an early reopening of the economy, is set to formally announce later on Tuesday an economic panel of business leaders and other experts, a group he calls the "opening our country council."

Three states on the West Coast and seven on the East Coast also announced they would formulate their own plan to reopen their economies, prompting Trump to comment during a coronavirus task force briefing on Monday that he would try to reopen states whether or not the state governors were in agreement.

That would create "a constitutional crisis like you haven't seen in decades" and could result in a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases, said Cuomo, who is leading the East Coast effort.

“If he thinks he's going to force this state, or any state for that matter, to do something that is reckless or irresponsible, that could endanger human life, literally, because we don't reopen correctly, you will see those virus numbers go up again, and more people will die,” Cuomo said.

Tuesday also marked the first day of earnings season, with JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo offering the first look into how the coronavirus pandemic has affected America's largest banks.

Social distancing measures have kept millions of working Americans at home and led to more than 16 million filing for first-time unemployment benefits. That has meant affected companies and individuals have all reached out to their financial institutions to extend credit lines.

JPMorgan Chase, the world's biggest bank by revenue, posted a 69 percent drop in first quarter profit. Wells Fargo reported earnings per share of just one cent.

Adding to the overall economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday it expects the global economy to shrink by 3 percent this year and forecasts the downturn as being the "worst recession since the Great Depression."

“This crisis is like no other,” Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, wrote in the report, citing “severe uncertainty about the duration and intensity of the shock” to the global economy.