From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.
MARKETS RALLY: U.S. equity markets rallied for the second consecutive week, helped by signs of optimism that parts of the American economy would soon start reopening. President Trump told states they could begin a phased-in reopening as early as this weekend, provided their coronavirus cases are in control. He did not name those states, but said 29 of 50 appeared to be in "extremely good shape." The president made that announcement as U.S. coronavirus deaths surged to a new record with, more than 4,500 people dying on Thursday. The market gains came amid more catastrophic economic data, from the historic plunge in March retail sales to another grim week of jobless claims (more on that below), as well as the official word from China that its economy shrank by nearly 7 percent in Q1, its first contraction in decades. U.S. stocks have now cut their losses of last month in half, though the major indexes are still more than 10 percent off those highs in February ー which might as well have been a lifetime ago.
GILEAD SOARS: The rally accelerated on Friday after news leaked about encouraging signs from clinical trials using Gilead Science's antiviral Ebola drug remdesivir. Stat reported that a hospital in Chicago has seen rapid recoveries among a group of severely ill COVID-19 patients and that nearly all patients participating in the clinical trial there have been released from the hospital. It's still a small sample size, and the trial does not include a control arm, but signs that Gilead may have the closest thing to a virus therapy already in production was enough to send shares of the biotech firm up as much as 12 percent to end the week.
EMPLOYMENT DISASTER: Another 5.2 million Americans joined the ranks of the unemployed last week, bringing the number of new jobless claims to more than 22 million in the last four weeks. For perspective, the U.S. created 22 million jobs since the Great Recession, meaning a decade's worth of job creation was just wiped out in a month. Enhanced unemployment benefits are now going out in 29 states, according to the Labor Dept. The others are facing delays, reportedly because they are using decades-old computer equipment.
PPP TAPPED OUT: Less than two weeks after it launched, the Small Business Administration says the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is out of money. PPP is the $349 billion pot set aside for loans to help small businesses stay afloat and not lay off employees. More than 1.6 million applicants have been approved, though only a small amount of the actual funds have gone out the door yet. Congress is currently arguing over how to replenish the pot; Republicans want a “clean” increase, while Democrats are trying to get new provisions added.
PEACOCK STRUTS ITS STUFF: It is either the best or worst time ever to launch a new streaming service, and NBC will soon find out. NBCUniversal soft-launched its newest product, Peacock, to Comcast subscribers this week as a "sneak peek" before it goes wide this summer, although the media giant is reportedly thinking about bumping up that roll out since so many people are home now looking for new shows to watch. Peacock will house 15,000 hours of content, NBC says, and the service will be free for Comcast's Xfinity customers. The rest of us will have to shell out $5 per month for a full, but ad-supported version, or $10 to go ad-free. Peacock follows the launch of Quibi earlier this month, which reported 1.7 million app downloads in its first week (for comparison, Disney+ had 10 million signups on its launch day last fall).