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Congress Is Working On Another $1 Trillion Stimulus Package

Plus, the S&P may have just entered a new bull market, Darden Restaurants shares are up after it said to-go orders are surging, and Carnival shares are up after the Saudi sovereign wealth fund takes a big stake in the cruise operator.

Stocks rallied higher to start Tuesday with the Dow adding 340 points, or 1.5%, after rising more than 800 points earlier in the session. The S&P 500 gained 1.2%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.4% higher.

That was fast. Just 15 days ago, the S&P 500 was fully in bear market territory, down -34% from its mid-February record high. Today, the index technically rocketed into a new bull market, rising 20% above its March 23 low, which if the rally holds and closes above that threshold, it will have accomplished rising into a new bull just 48 days after the end of the last one, marking one of the shortest bear markets in history. The rally is being fueled by optimism around what appears to be the cresting of the COVID-19 outbreak in several hot spots around the world. However, Citi strategists say the rally is nothing more than an “aftershock,” given that it’s not underpinned by volume or any guarantees that we’re nearing the end of the outbreak. “I think we are just seeing an aftershock of people trying to manage risk, work out exactly the depths of this recession, and indeed whether the quantum of support is sufficient,” said Jimmy Conway, head of EMEA equity trading strategy strategy at Citigroup Global Markets, adding that there will likely be “some pretty horrific” cash flow numbers in the next way of corporate earnings that the market is not pricing in. “Is what is driving it certain and was there a lot of volume behind it to vindicate that move, i.e. to show that there is real conviction and real commitment to it? I don’t think we saw that and I don’t think we are seeing it,” Conway said.

U.S. coronavirus cases rose to at least 368,449 overnight as global cases rose to more than 1,359,300. Deaths from COVID-19 in New York state rose by 731 on Monday, the single-biggest daily jump in fatalities since the outbreak began, bringing the total deaths so far to 5,489, roughly half of all deaths from the virus in the U.S. However, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that the jump in fatalities comes as intensive care admissions starts to decline, giving the state some needed time to ramp up supplies and staff to handle an anticipated wave of cases over the next few weeks. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said this morning that Americans are “doing the right thing” by staying home and following other mitigation measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, while Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy of Infectious Diseases expressed optimism. “I don’t think anyone has ever mitigated the way I’ve seen people mitigate right now,” Fauci said. “It’s never happened in this country before. I am optimistic. Always cautiously optimistic.”

Congress’s next stimulus bill to support the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus crisis is likely to be at least another $1 trillion, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. According to Pelosi, the next relief bill will include further direct payments to Americans, extended unemployment insurance, more resources for food stamps, and more loans for small businesses. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to approve more funding for the small business loan program this week. “I will work with Secretary Mnuchin and Leader Schumer and hope to approve further funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent or voice vote during the next scheduled Senate session on Thursday,” McConnell said in a statement. 

Darden Restaurants shares are up more than 14% at the time of writing after the company said that it is furloughing some restaurant support center employees and slashing executive pay as same-store sales plummet 39% so far in its fiscal Q4. While same-store sales have fallen at Darden chains Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, both chains have seen significant spikes in to-go sales per restaurants, with Olive Garden’s to-go sales having jumped 141.6%, while LongHorn Steakhouse’s have more than tripled. “The challenges of this unprecedented situation are far from over,” said Darden CEO Gene Lee in a statement. “However, I remain confident that the strength of our portfolio, the power of our competitive advantages and the resiliency of our people will enable us to successfully navigate our way through it.”

And Carnival shares surged more than 21% this morning following Monday’s 20% gain after the Saudi sovereign wealth fund disclosed a new 8.2% stake in the cruise line. The stake represents 43.5 million shares. When Carnival reported its quarterly earnings last week, the cruise operator didn’t give 2020 guidance but said that it will be able to remain in compliance with its debt obligations for at least 12 months amid an unprecedented time for the industry. “We cannot assure you that our assumptions used to estimate our liquidity requirements will be correct because we have never previously experienced a complete cessation of our cruising operations, and as a consequence, our ability to be predictive is uncertain,” the company said in the earnings release. “In addition, the magnitude, duration and speed of the global pandemic is uncertain.”

Stocks We’re Watching

Wayfair Inc (NYSE: W): Wayfair shares jumped as much as 51% yesterday after the e-commerce home retailer said its business skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic. The retailer said it has seen strong demand across most categories in both its U.S. and international segments, with March gross revenue growing at just under 20% year-over-year and its rate of growth more than doubling at the end of March and into April. “We are encouraged by our increasing sales momentum, yet (we) remain highly focused on our plan to rapidly reach profitability and positive free cash flow,” said Wayfair CEO, Co-Founder, and Co-Chairman, Niraj Shah. “The additional capital we are raising, although not strictly necessary, should only enhance our ability to successfully navigate through any market backdrop.”

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