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* Boeing surges as MAX 737 test flight starts
* Pending home sales jump in May
* Gilead announces remdesivir pricing (Updates to market close)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) – Wall Street stocks closed higher on Monday and the S&P 500 was poised to clinch its biggest quarterly percentage gain since 1998 as investors hoped for a stimulus-backed economic rebound, while a surge in Boeing shares helped boost the blue-chip Dow.
The planemaker’s shares jumped more than 13% after a 737 MAX took off on Monday from a Seattle-area airport on the first day of certification flight testing with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and company test pilots, a crucial moment in Boeing’s worst-ever crisis.
A spike in virus infections in Southern and Western states last week sent the S&P 500 down nearly 3%, but the threat of a deeper-than-feared recession has led investors to expect more stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve or Congress.
But the sting of rising infections was blunted by the pricing of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has been shown to alter the course of COVID-19, by Gilead Sciences. The company also agreed to send nearly all of its supply of the drug to the United States over the next three months.
While the S&P 500 is up more than 17% for the quarter, the index is down slightly for the month, as stocks have been buffeted by signs of progress in battling the coronavirus and a recent resurgence in cases.
“For all the up, for all the down, volatility isn’t going anywhere,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird in Milwaukee. “Maybe that is the lesson of June, these one-day moves seem impressive but you string 20 of them together and you’ve got nothing.”
Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 579.5 points, or 2.32%, to 25,595.05, the S&P 500 gained 44.26 points, or 1.47%, to 3,053.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 116.93 points, or 1.2%, to 9,874.15.
Each of the 11 major S&P sectors was in positive territory, led by industrial stocks.
The benchmark S&P 500 has rebounded about 36% from its March 23 closing low. Monday’s gains pushed the index above its 200-day moving average, a technical support level it had fallen through with last week’s decline.
Data on Monday showed contracts to buy previously owned homes rebounded by the most on record in May, suggesting the housing market was starting to turn around. Later this week, investors will focus on employment and consumer confidence data.
Still, Wall Street was looking for more stimulus measures to buttress the economy. Analysts at Morgan Stanley said a further injection of cash was critical to the bank’s thesis for a “V”-shaped U.S. economic recovery.
The BlackRock Investment Institute downgraded U.S. equities to “neutral,” citing risks of fading fiscal stimulus, an extended epidemic as well as renewed U.S.-China trade tensions.
Although a $3 trillion aid bill was passed by the House of Representatives in May, the Republican-controlled Senate has not taken up the package and lawmakers are not expected to move toward another coronavirus bill until sometime in July.
Coty Inc jumped after the company said it would buy a 20% stake in Kim Kardashian West’s makeup brand for $200 million.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)