Wall Street set for gains at the end of blistering week

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[March 20, 2020]  By Medha Singh

(Reuters) - Wall Street looked set to round off another torrid week with modest gains on Friday, as dramatic intervention by the Federal Reserve halted the worst monthly selloff in U.S. equities in three decades.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Boeing Co <BA.N> gained 10.2% in premarket trading after four days of battering in the face of a complete collapse in the aerospace sector as the coronavirus pandemic brings global travel to a halt.

Fears of the severity of the outbreak have spooked investors over the past month, with the S&P 500 losing nearly 30% - or more than $8 trillion - in value since hitting a record high last month.

A raft of additional monetary measures by the U.S. central bank propped up the three main stock indexes on Thursday, and investors are counting on further policy easing in the next few days as the Senate mulls a $1 trillion package that would include direct financial help for Americans.

United Airlines Holdings <UAL.O>, Delta Air Lines Inc <DAL.N> and MGM Resorts <MGM.N> rose between 14% and 17%, leading the charge among battered airlines, hotels and cruise line operators.

Exxon Mobil Corp <XOM.N> and Chevron Corp <CVX.N> rose more than 7% as oil prices rebounded after President Donald Trump hinted that he might intervene in the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. [O/R]

At 06:31 a.m. EDT, Dow e-minis <1YMcv1> were up 737 points, or 3.68%, S&P 500 e-minis <EScv1> were up 77.5 points, or 3.24% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQcv1> were up 333.75 points, or 4.59%.

SPDR S&P 500 ETFs <SPY.P> were up 2.63%.

Still, these gains would be marginal compared with the steep losses for Wall Street in the past four weeks as the rapid spread of COVID-19 shuts down large cities and upends business activity.

California became the latest state to issue an unprecedented statewide "stay at home" order as the number of U.S. coronavirus deaths hit 200.

A Reuters poll of economists showed the global economy was already in a recession, with official data showing coronavirus-related layoffs pushed weekly jobless claims to a 2-1/2 year high last week.

Markets are also likely to become volatile during Friday's session due to "quadruple witching," where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before their expiration.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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