May 18, 2020 - Economy & Business

Stock market has its best day since early April

The outside of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The stock market closed up more than 3% on Monday — the biggest rally in over a month — amid news that Moderna's phase one coronavirus vaccine trial showed a positive first step.

Why it matters: The stock market has rebounded in recent weeks in the face of the coronavirus crisis, which has pushed the U.S. economy into the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Long-time investors have warned about stocks' high valuations based on optimism about a vaccine or cure, as well as the economy's ability to fully rebound.

The big picture: Congress passed coronavirus relief to support workers and small businesses during the economic lockdown. Another stimulus package passed the House, but faces opposition in the Senate.

  • The Federal Reserve has also taken unprecedented steps to launch lending facilities to shore up the economy — and more support could be coming.
  • "There's really no limit to what we can do with these lending programs that we have," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told 60 Minutes last night, an interview that some traders said helped optimism on Wall Street.

By the numbers:

  • The S&P 500 rose 3.1%.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 911 points (or 3.8%).
  • The Nasdaq Composite climbed 2.4%.

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Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

2 hours ago - Economy & Business