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Stocks Are Higher Even As U.S. Surgeon General Says This Week “Is Going To Be Our 9/11” Moment Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic

Plus, JPMorgan’s Jaime Dimon said the coronavirus crisis will produce a “bad recession,” oil is lower as the OPEC+ meeting to discuss a production cut is delayed, and Apple said it will deliver 1 million face shields per week starting this week.

Stocks were higher to start Monday with the Dow adding 1,100 points, or around 5%. The S&P 500 gained 4.9%, and the Nasdaq traded 4.8% higher.

Monday’s bullish sentiment was driven by optimism that the spread of the coronavirus may be peaking in the U.S., even as cases rise that least 337,600 and the death toll nears 10,000. While the Trump administration acknowledged that this week could be among the toughest for hot sports like New York, the administration struck a more optimistic tone in a press conference on Sunday, noting signs that there’s stabilization in terms of hospitalization rates and other factors. According to U.S. Health and Human Services assistant secretary Dr. Brett Giroir, New York, New Jersey, and Detroit could see peaks in hospitalizations and deaths this week, while peaks in other hot spots in the U.S. will happen over the coming weeks. Giroir, however, noted that “We may be seeing the worst upon us right now in terms of outcomes,” echoing other experts. “The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment,” said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. “It’s going to be our 9/11 moment. It’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives.”

JPMorgan’s Jaime Dimon said this morning that he expects the coronavirus crisis to produce a “bad recession” with elements of financial strain that will be similar to the 2008 financial crisis. “We don’t know exactly what the future will hold – but at a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008,” Dimon wrote in his annual shareholders letter. “Our bank cannot be immune to the effects of this kind of stress.” Dimon said that JPMorgan’s earnings will be “down meaningfully” this year, though it is “unlikely” the bank will cut its dividend and would only do so out of “extreme prudence.” After the crisis, “we should use the opportunity to closely review the economic response and determine whether any additional regulatory changes are warranted to improve our financial and economic system,” Dimon wrote. “There will be a time and place for that – but not now.”

Oil is lower this morning after Reuters reported that the OPEC+ meeting to discuss a production cut is likely to be postponed until April 8 or 9 to allow more time for negotiations. Brent crude is down -3.55% to $32.90 per barrel at the time of writing, while West Texas Intermediate crude is down -5% to $26.91. Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev, however, struck a positive tone, saying that Russian and Saudi Arabia are “very, very close” to a deal on oil production cuts. “I think the whole market understands that this deal is important and it will bring lots of stability, so much important stability to the market, and we are very close,” Dmitriev said. “Russia is definitely very interested in stabilizing oil prices and… there’s the political will.”

Apple said that it will ship at least 1 million face shields for health care workers beginning this week. “We’ve launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations and packaging teams, and our suppliers to design, product and ship face shields for health workers,” CEO Tim Cook said in a video released on Twitter yesterday. “Our first shipment was delivered to Kaiser hospital facilities in the Santa Clara Valley this past week and the feed back from doctors was very positive.” Cook added that Apple’s face shield design can be packed 100 to a box, and assembled in two minutes. Elsewhere, Tesla engineers showed footage of a prototype ventilator made with auto parts the company is working on amid the shortage of the machines for coronavirus patients. According to the video on Tesla’s YouTube channel, the design uses the reliable computer and control systems from a Model 3 electric car.

And Vir Biotechnology shares are up more than 18% this morning after the company said that it is collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline to develop an antibody drug to treat COVID-19, with human testing in Phase 2 clinical trials within three to five months. “Vir’s unique antibody platform has precedented success in identifying and developing antibodies as treatments for multiple pathogens, and it is highly complementary with our R&D approach to focus on the science of immunology,” GlaxoSmithKline’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Hal Barron, said in a statement.

Stocks We’re Watching

SIGA Technologies Inc (NASDAQ: SIGA): SIGA Technologies shares are up more than 7% today following the company’s announcement that the Canadian Department of National Defense has awarded a contract to Meridian Medical Technologies Inc to purchase up to 15,325 courses of SIGA’s oral TPOXX (tecovirimat) treatment over four years for a total value of $14.3 million. “The current COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all that preparedness with medical countermeasures is critical for responding effectively to any infectious disease outbreak,” said Dr. Phil Gomez, CEO of SIGA Technologies. “Smallpox remains a key threat, and TPOXX is an important component of any smallpox response plan. This procurement by the Canadian military is an important first step, and we look forward to continuing to work with Meridian to support potential future procurements with both the CDND and Health Canada to protect Canada’s military and civilian population.”

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