Stocks rally as traders seek signs of optimism

Stocks rose Monday morning as traders clung to small signs of optimism amid the deepening coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 870 points as the market opened, rising more than 4 percent after a week of heavy losses. The S&P 500 rose 3.9 percent and the Nasdaq composite rose 3.8 percent.

Monday’s rally comes as Wall Street seeks a silver lining amid rising COVID-19 cases and deaths as well as growing concern about the pandemic's medical and economic toll on the U.S. As of Monday morning, there were 330,000 confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, resulting in at least 9,600 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday.

“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized; it’s going to be happening all over the country,” Adams added on “Fox News Sunday."

Even so, stocks rallied on Monday after slivers of good news helped calm traders eager to escape a pandemic-driven financial market crunch.

Markets appeared to rise on President Trump's assertion in a Sunday evening press conference that the U.S. can see "the light at the end of the tunnel" despite the dire warnings of some administration officials.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) also said Sunday that the daily death toll of the pandemic in his state dropped from 630 deaths on Saturday to 594 deaths Sunday. It was the first drop in daily COVID-19 death in New York, the state hit hardest by the pandemic, since the disease began spreading.

While Cuomo said that the data could indicate "a slight plateauing" of COVID-19 cases in New York, he added that “You can’t do this day to day. You have to look at three or four days to see a pattern.”

Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist at investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, said in a Monday research note that the rally on Wall Street could be premature.

"A one-day drop in deaths for one day seems to be extrapolating too much as it relates to a peak," Cecchini wrote.

"We’ve also read commentary that suggests the spike in volatility is over, and perhaps more importantly that it is a sign that all is clear and equity markets have made a bottom," he added. "Nonsense. History says otherwise."

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