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David Becker

US stocks surged higher on Monday, as investors focused on a potential peak in New York coronavirus cases. All three major indices were up more than 6% on the day. The Russell 200 outperformed all the major averages climbing nearly 7%. The rally came as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that New York could be at a peak of coronavirus cases, which could remain at a plateau for a while. Investors took this as a positive sign. The focus has turned away from weak economic data. Recall, on Friday the Labor Department reported a decline of 700K jobs in March. This was well short of the actual March numbers which are probably closer to 10-million given the rise in jobless claims.

All sectors in the S&P 500 index were higher, led by a surge in cyclicals which climbed more than 12%. Consumer staples were the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 index. The VIX volatility index moved lower on Monday, falling to 44% for the first time since early March.

Gold prices surged helping to buoy metals and mining stocks. Even energy shares rallied despite a decline in oil prices. Natural gas prices rallied 7%, helping to buoy some of the energy producers. US yields moved higher, but the dollar was unchanged. The pound tumbled on Monday as UK PM Boris Johnson was moved to a critical care unit as he has been unable to rebound from the coronavirus. The US death toll from the coronavirus topped 10K on Monday.

Helping Small Businesses

The Federal Reserve announced that the central bank would create a new program to finance loans that banks and other lenders make through the government’s emergency small-business lending program. The move will free up financial firms to make more loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program, which is part of a $2.2 trillion economic relief package President Trump signed last month.

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