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Stock Market News for Mar 31, 2020

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Benchmarks gained on Monday, boosted by healthcare companies that are trying their best to bring the pandemic to a halt. Investors were hopeful as they considered the efforts of governments and healthcare companies worldwide to slow the virus’ spread. To be specific, orders of extended lockdown by President Donald Trump on Mar 29 appeared to have a positive impact on investors’ sentiment.  

The three major indices— the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite — closed in the green on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 22,327.48 after gaining3.2%, the broader S&P 500 reached 2,626.65 after increasing3.4% and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite hit 7,774.15 after adding 3.8%.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined1.1% to close at 56.48 on Mar 30. Finally, advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.56-to-1 ratio.

Major Development in Healthcare Boosted Sector

The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV) rallied as much as 4.7% on Mar 30, mostly driven by gains in shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) and Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Free Report) which banked in 8% and 6.4%, respectively.

Shares of the former rose after it revealed a $1 billion deal with the United States government to create enough manufacturing capacity for its coronavirus vaccine (more than 1 billion doses).The company said that it could start testing on humans by September and get the vaccine ready for emergency use in early 2021.

Shares of the latter increased after the company announced that the FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization to launch the company’s test that can detect coronavirus within 5 minutes.

Both Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratoriescarry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Trump Extends Lockdown till Apr 30

The President on Sunday night extended social-distancing measures till the end of April, after public-health experts warned Trump that the death toll in the country could hit as high as 100,000 if enough steps weren’t taken to fight the pandemic.

The initial lockdown period of 15 days was expected to conclude on Mar 30. The announcement was a surprising moveby Trump, since he hoped to reopen the United States by Easter Sunday (Apr 12).

Pending Home Sales Rise

Pending home sales increased for the second consecutive month in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) grew 2.4% to hit 111.5 last month. Contract signings increased 9.4% on a year-over-year basis.

Last month’s pending home sales figures indicate toward a healthy housing market (before the coronavirus-led lockdown period began), according to NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun.

Stocks That Made Headlines

PBF Energy Rallies 20.1% on Capex Cut & $530M Divestments

PBF Energy Inc (PBF - Free Report) recently announced a reduction of 35% or $240 million in capital expenditures from its original 2020 guidance. (Read more)

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Johnson Johnson (JNJ) - free report >>

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) - free report >>

PBF Energy Inc. (PBF) - free report >>