Investors are gearing up for another volatile week on Wall Street as President Donald Trump abandoned his ambition to open up the country by Easter amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.11%, or more than 240 points, at market open on Monday, while the S&P 500 improved 1.3%, or 33 points, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.4%, or 108 points. However, all three major benchmark indexes ended Friday more than 3% down after the United States overtook China as the country with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19. The U.S. now has over 143,000 infected persons and at least 2,500 deaths.
Over the weekend, Trump announced an extension of the government’s “social distancing” guidelines to April 30, adding 30 days to the initial recommendation. At a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, the president suggested that the death rate from the novel coronavirus could peak in about two weeks and predicted that the U.S. would be on its way to recovery by June.
“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won,” he said. “It’s very important that everybody strongly follow the guidelines.”
For days, Trump had been hoping to return American life back to normal by mid-April, announcing two weeks of restrictions on nonessential travel as well as sit-down dining and gatherings that exceeded 10 people. Many states and cities across the country have also instituted their own lockdowns, leading dozens of retailers to shutter their stores and corporate offices to employ work-from-home policies.
In an attempt to protect the coronavirus-damaged economy, Trump on Friday signed a massive stimulus bill aimed at aiding struggling Americans and businesses. The $2 trillion package, recognized as the largest fiscal stimulus package in modern U.S. history, will send direct payments and grant unemployment benefits to millions of people, as well as provide billions in financial aid to states and companies.
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