Stocks gain as governments around the world pledge to prop up the global economy

Alex Wilhelm, Kirsten Korosec and Jonathan Shieber

In a volatile trading session that saw the White House signal intentions to release the largest stimulus package since the great recession of 2008, American stocks made up for yesterday's losses with major indices rising sharply.

The return to gains was welcome after stocks posted huge losses to begin the week, tripping the market's circuit breakers for the third time in the current period of trading tied to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The response to the White House's plan to stem economic fallout from the virus is receiving -- today at least -- good marks.

Part of the plan includes providing American's with direct financial aid in the form of cash. Other governmental action will provide emergency paid medical leave pay, though America will still lag sharply behind the rest of the world when it comes to worker care. How a few weeks of paid leave will hold up against a patchwork, but increasingly broad, national quarantine isn't clear at this time. One of the country's leading political parties was opposed to a more permanent fix.

The U.S. government is not alone in its stimulus plans. The U.K. announced a nearly $400 billion package today, for example. Many other governments have executed other packages, and central banks are doing their bit as well.

Today at the bell the scorecard read as follows:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: climbed 4.93%, or 994.50, to close at 21,183.02
  • S&P 500: rose nearly 6%, or 142.67 points to close at 2,528.80
  • Nasdaq Composite: was up 430.19 points, or 6.23%, to close at 7,334.78

Each index remains far below its recent highs, and all three are still in bear-market territory.

Individual Performance

Shares of Slack, the popular workplace app that got hit after its guidance was a bit light, rallied today. Uber and Lyft, hit hard in recent weeks as the world has slowly ground to a halt, fell today.

SaaS shares rallied as a group, but failed to make up much ground compared to their recent highs; they remain sharply depressed from prior levels. Cryptos have rallied some in the last 24 hours as well, but, like with most assets, remain far under preceding highs and other local maxima.

In short, while today's trading was more than welcome, it was just lukewarm comfort after Monday's epic sell-off. And with the U.S. COVID-19 tallies rising, it isn't clear if tomorrow is going to follow Tuesday's direction. After all, this rally came after a meltdown.

Automakers

The Big 3 U.S. automakers — GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — saw shares push lower early in the day. Ford closed flat with a share price of $5.01, while GM and FCA saw shares close 3.24% and 3.12%, respectively.

Automakers globally are facing a downward slide in sales and supply constraints as economies deal with the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, VW and Daimler were just a few of the automakers to suspend production at factories across Europe.

Tesla saw shares close 3.34% lower to end the day at $430.20. Tesla shares have continued their volatile run, kicking off the year at around the $430 mark, eventually trading as $917.42 on February 19 and then falling to today's closing price of $430.20.

Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers called on GM, Ford and FCA to shut down factories in the U.S. for two weeks over concerns about the spread of COVID-19.