Stocks erase losses as Nasdaq leads rebound

U.S. equity markets staged a late-day rebound with all three of the major market averages closing higher.

The Nasdaq Composite led the turnaround rising 1.23 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.42 percent while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a modest 26 points erasing losses of more than 300 points.

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At least 15 U.S. states are easing stay-at-home restrictions, including Florida, which will allow indoor retail establishments to open at 25 percent capacity, except in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. In a late-day briefing, California Governor Newsom discussed the possibility of some retailers opening as early as Friday with pick-up restrictions.

Separately, the U.S. Senate was back at work discussing more ways to increase economic aid to combat the fallout from the coronavirus.

Looking at stocks, airlines were sharply lower after Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway has dumped all $7 billion to $8 billion of its holdings in American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

“The world has changed for the airlines,” Buffett said during a virtual address to shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting. He added that the industry will "borrow billions and have to pay that back," taking away from the upside.

Berkshire lost nearly $50 billion during the first quarter as the stock-market rout that ensued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic erased $54.5 billion of value from the conglomerate’s investment portfolio.

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Gilead Sciences received emergency Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug remdesivir to be used as a treatment for COVID-19.

On the earnings front, meat producer Tyson Foods missed on earnings and sales and warned lower levels of productivity and higher costs of production are likely to persist “until the effects of COVID-19 diminish.” Shake Shack, Avis Budget Group and Texas Roadhouse are among the companies reporting after the closing bell.

Elsewhere, Constellation Brands exercised warrants to raise its stake in cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corporation to 38.6 percent.

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Commodities gained with West Texas Intermediate crude oil up 3 percent at $20.39 a barrel and gold higher by 0.7 percent at $1,706.90 per ounce.

U.S. Treasurys were little changed with the yield on the 10-year note near 0.636 percent.

European markets were lower across the board with Germany's DAX and France’s CAC down 3.21 percent and 3.79 percent, respectively, as traders returned to work from the May Day holiday. Britain’s FTSE, which was open on Friday, was lower by 0.19 percent.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 4.18 percent after government data showed the economy shrank by 8.9 percent in the first quarter, the most on record. China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei were closed for holiday.

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