S&P 500 set to recoup $1 trillion in value as virus deaths slow


(Reuters) – The S&P 500 was on track to recoup about $1 trillion in market value in a frantic rally on Monday after New York, the biggest U.S. coronavirus hot spot, reported a fall in daily deaths, raising hopes that the pandemic could level-off soon.

All three main stock indexes jumped more than 4%, with gains led by the defensive utilities .SPLRCU sector. Consumer staples .SPLRCS and real estate .SPLRCR stocks – also considered safe bets during times of volatility – rose between 2.7% and 6.1%.

The S&P 500 banking index .SPXBK jumped 5.2% and was set for its best day in more than a week. Bank of America (BAC.N), Citigroup (C.N), Wells Fargo (WFC.N) and JP Morgan (JPM.N) advanced between 4% and 6.4%, tracking Treasury yields.

“Seeing signs of stabilization in New York City is probably the most important thing given the amount of capital that’s controlled through managers that live in the area,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

“It’s a tremendous relief for the market (but it’s) not to say that we’re through the woods yet, because we’re going to have a tough week or two ahead.”

U.S. officials have girded the country for a “peak death week” from the pandemic, with the death toll now at more than 9,600.

Wall Street’s fear gauge fell to its lowest in two weeks, but analysts cautioned against calling a bottom. During the financial crisis of 2007-08, the S&P 500 took months to establish a bottom even after the volatility index plummeted.

Despite Monday’s bounce, the S&P 500 .SPX remains nearly 20% – or $6 trillion in market value – below its all-time high in mid-February, as the novel coronavirus brought business activity to a virtual halt and sparked mass layoffs.

“It’s a big stretch to try to extrapolate a reduction in the number of cases into when we’re going to be able to get back to work,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

“People are still going to be very hesitant to go into restaurants and bars.”

S&P 500 companies are expected to enter an earnings recession in 2020, with declines in profit in the first and second quarters, according to IBES data from Refinitiv, as demand evaporates across sectors including airlines, luxury goods and industrials.

At 12:18 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 1,159.52 points, or 5.51%, at 22,212.05, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 136.22 points, or 5.47%, at 2,624.87 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 392.35 points, or 5.32%, at 7,765.44.

Versace owner Capri Holdings (CPRI.N) surged nearly 20% after saying it would furlough all its 7,000 employees in North America amid the coronavirus pandemic, as it expects to open its stores only after June 1.

Video conferencing app Zoom (ZM.O) fell more than 8% on concerns over its data privacy practices and increased competition from deep-pocketed rivals.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners nearly 10-to-1 on the NYSE and 7-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded six new highs and 22 new lows.

Reporting by Uday Sampath, Shreyashi Sanyal and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Sriraj Kalluvila