Stocks Cut Gains, Despite Oil Rebound, After Gilead Trial Disappoints

TOPLINE

In yet another volatile session on Thursday, stocks pared back gains despite a rebound in oil prices, after reports that a Gilead Sciences clinical trial for its remdesivir drug was not effective in treating coronavirus—though the company quickly disputed that it was an inconclusive trial.

KEY FACTS

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2%, just 40 points, on Thursday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both ended slightly negative.

Stocks rose earlier in the day, with the Dow up to 400 points higher, thanks to a rebound in oil prices: WTI crude oil futures have stabilized since their unprecedented drop earlier this week, rising over 40% in the last two days alone.

The market abruptly slashed its gains and briefly turned negative, however, after a report from The Financial Times—citing documents accidentally published by the WHO—said that a potential coronavirus treatment from Gilead Sciences had flopped in a recent clinical trial.

According to the report, Gilead’s highly-anticipated antiviral drug remdesivir had yielded disappointing results during its first clinical trial in China. Gilead’s stock was briefly halted for volatility as the market fell.

But Gilead was quick to respond and take issue with the report, saying that “because this study was terminated early due to low enrollment,” it did not “enable statistically meaningful conclusions.”

“As such, the study results are inconclusive,” Gilead said, though the company also highlighted that “trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, especially among patients treated early in disease.” 

Stocks rebounded after the company’s response, ending the day largely flat. Gilead’s stock finished down 4.3%.

Tangent

Zoom shares jumped 12.5% after the company announced Thursday that its daily user base had grown 50% in the past month alone. Zoom now has more than 300 million people using its software, up from about 10 million in December.

Key background

Stocks rose for a second day in a row, recouping some of their losses from Monday and Tuesday. In the latest sign of just how badly the coronavirus has hit the U.S. economy, another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week, down from 5.2 million the week prior, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday morning. The total number of workers who have filed for unemployment since late March has surpassed 26 million—wiping out all of the job gains since the 2008 financial crisis. Despite the sobering data, stocks were largely able to brush off the weekly jobless numbers: Unemployment claims due to the coronavirus are declining from record highs earlier this month and may have already peaked, according to experts. “Data continues to improve, which reconfirms the momentum that we’ve seen in markets off the bottom in March,” Peter Essele, head of portfolio management for Commonwealth Financial Network, told Forbes.

Further reading

Another 4.4 Million Americans Filed For Unemployment, But The Worst May Be Over, Experts Say (Forbes)

Stocks Rally, Dow Up More Than 400 Points As Oil Prices Rebound (Forbes)

Stocks Plunge, Dow Falls 600 Points As Historic Oil Rout Continues And Congress Passes More Small Business Stimulus (Forbes)

Leon Cooperman: The Coronavirus Will ‘Likely’ Change Capitalism Forever (Forbes)

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