US stock futures and Asian markets jump following Gilead drug trial report, Boeing plans to resume production

Japan’s Nikkei (N225) and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) spiked more than 2.5% each, while China’s Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) rose 0.8%. South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) jumped 3.4%.
Stocks in Asia started the day strong, and barely seemed to acknowledge China’s disappointing first-quarter GDP figures. The economy contracted 6.8% compared to a year earlier, according to government statistics released Friday. The plunge is the worst for a single quarter that China has recorded since it started publishing such figures in 1992. It’s also the first time China has reported a contraction since 1976.
US stock futures, meanwhile, soared as Boeing announced plans to resume commercial airline production. Dow (INDU) futures were last up 827 points, or 3.5%. Dow component Boeing surged 8.8% after hours.
S&P 500 (SPX) futures increased about 3.2%, and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) futures were up about 2.1%.

Boeing’s stock lifted futures after the company announced a plan to resume production of commercial aircraft at its Puget Sound facility. The first employees will return to the plant on April 20, the company said Thursday.

Pharmaceutical company Gilead (GILD), which has been testing its one of its drugs as a potential treatment for coronavirus, popped more than 16% in after-hours trading following a report about early success in one of the drug trials.
Covid-19 patients who are getting the drug, called remdesivir, have been recovering quickly, with most going home in days, STAT News reported Thursday after it obtained a video of a conversation about the trial.

The 125 patients in a clinical trial of the drug all had severe respiratory symptoms and fever, but many were able to leave the hospital after less than a week of treatment, STAT quoted the doctor leading the trial as saying. However, the trial does not include what’s known as a control group, so it will be difficult to say whether the drug is truly helping patients recover better.

“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” Dr. Kathleen Mullane, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago who is leading the clinical trial, said in the video.

Mullane did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN. The university said it would comment once the official results of the trial were ready.

Gilead said it expected results from the trial by the end of the month, adding that “the totality of the data need to be analyzed in order to draw any conclusions from the trial.”

“Anecdotal reports, while encouraging, do not provide the statistical power necessary to determine the safety and efficacy profile of remdesivir as a treatment for Covid-19,” Gilead said.

US stocks closed higher on Thursday, clinging to gains despite a string of weak economic reports. The Dow closed up 33 points, or 0.1%. The S&P 500 finished 0.6% higher and the Nasdaq jumped 1.7%.

Thursday’s report on US weekly unemployment showed 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended April 11. So far, roughly 22 million Americans, or 13.5% of the US labor force have filed first-time unemployment claims since mid-March. Other economic data released on Thursday reported negative declines for the housing industry. US home construction dropped 22% from February.

–CNN’s Maggie Fox, Clare Duffy and Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.

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