U.S. stocks open sharply higher after worst day since 1987
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), March 12, 2020. /VCG

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), March 12, 2020. /VCG

Wall Street stocks surged in opening trading Friday, winning back some of the ground lost in Thursday's rout as Washington policymakers reported progress on stimulus to address the economic hit from the coronavirus. 

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 3.3 percent to 21,891,86, a gain of nearly 700 points. The broad-based S&P 500 climbed by 3.9 percent to 2,576.52, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced by 3.7 percent to 7,548.62. 

The gains came a day after the Dow suffered its worst session since 1987 and the longest bull market ever ended as the S&P 500 officially went into a "bear market," after falling by 20 percent from its peak level. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump's administration and congressional leaders were "very close" to an agreement on a stimulus package that reportedly will include paid sick leave and small business tax relief.

Uncertainty over the stimulus package and sharp partisan rhetoric was an exacerbating factor in Thursday's session, where selling was also spurred by Trump's shock travel ban on Europe and a series of cancellation announcements from professional sports leagues, entertainment companies and others that deepened recession fears.

But market watchers said sentiment remained brittle. "Investors should enjoy today's open, but should also remain watchful to see if it turns into an opportunistic opening for trapped longs, and nervous investors in general, to sell at higher prices," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare. 

Source(s): AFP