U.S. stocks on Wednesday shot higher as investors appeared to react positively to early signs of efforts to address the outbreak of COVID-19, the infectious disease that reportedly originated in Wuhan, China in December and has claimed more than 3,100 lives. Some of the gains also were attributed to a victories by former Vice President Joe Biden in Super Tuesday election contests to help determine the Democratic nominee who will face off against incumbent President Donald Trump. The advance for markets also come a day after the Federal Reserve cut benchmark interest rates by a half a percentage point to a range of 1%-1.25%, marking the first such emergency cut since the 2008 financial crisis.Fed Chairman Powell said the cut was to preemptively combat the negative impact of the viral outbreak but markets reacted negatively to them. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,171 points, or 4.5%, to end around 27,090. The blue-chip index fell nearly 800 points in the previous session. The gain marks the second gain of at least one thousand points for the 124-year-old equity index. The S&P 500 gained 4.2%, driven higher by the health-care sector. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed rose 3.9%. Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) led the day's gains in the Dow, up almost 11%, with analysts attributing the health-care company's gains to Biden gaining traction over Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. The Vermont Sen. had been perceived as less friendly to the health-care industry. U.S. lawmakers were reached an agreement on funding a roughly $8 billion response to the coronavirus, the Wall Street Journal reported. Law makers are expected to approve more than $3 billion for developing treatments for COVID-19 and $2.2 billion for containment.
-Mark DeCambre; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 04, 2020 16:08 ET (21:08 GMT)
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