Stocks rose for the third time in four days after the Federal Reserve announced a $2.3 trillion program to help small businesses and municipalities, plus more in today’s Closing Bell on Money & Markets.

The Top Story

Investors weighed the news of a Federal Reserve plan bolster businesses and governments hit hard by the coronavirus more than it did news of 6.6 million new unemployment claims.

In what is likely to be its largest rescue effort ever, the Fed said it will work with banks to offer 4-year loans to companies of up to 10,000 employees, and directly buy bonds of states and more populous counties and cities.

“(The Fed’s move) should give some confidence to investors, that the risks this time around are maybe not the same as the risks in the financial crisis,” said Randy Watts, chief investment officer at O’Neil Global Advisors. “While this rally has been impressive, the market probably is a little bit of ahead of itself and we would not be surprised to see a pullback from here.”

Shortly before the Fed’s announcement, the Department of Labor said 6.6 million more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week — bringing the number of jobless claims to 16.8 million in the last three weeks.

But markets held firm on the Fed’s announcement as the S&P 500 was close to its best week since October 1974. The index has gained nearly 13% in the holiday-shortened week on early signs of the outbreak soon hitting a peak and aggressive global stimulus, but it remains about 17% below its record high as lockdown measures hamper business activity.

Stock markets are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday, so there will be no Opening or Closing Bell stories.

The Dow Jones rose 1.2%. The S&P 500 moved up 1.4%, capping off its best week since 1974, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.7%.

Stock Market Update: Closing Bell*

S&P 500: 2,789 (+1.45%)
DOW: 23,719 (+1.2%)
NASDAQ: 8,153 (+0.7%)
GOLD: $1,733 (+2.9%)
BITCOIN: $7,267.07 (-1.4%)
U.S. 10-YEAR YIELD: 0.72%

*- as of 4:22 p.m.

A Big Win

This morning, we told you to be on the lookout for Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) after the company reported a 12.1% sales increase in March. That was only half the increase Wall Street analysts projected for the retail chain. Costco shares were down 1.9% in afternoon trading.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) was hit particularly hard after Loop Capital downgraded the movie theater chain and said the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could push the company into potential bankruptcy. AMC shares fell 20%.

Golden Nuggets

Gold futures peaked at a 7 ½-year high in midday trading as safe-haven demand increased and the Federal Reserve announced its $2.3 trillion lending plan.

After reaching the high, gold retreated back but was still up 2.7% to trade at $1,730 an ounce. Silver futures moved 4.3% higher to $15.86 an ounce.

Platinum futures were up 2% to $748 an ounce while palladium fell 0.4% to $2,085 an ounce.

Cannabis Corner

Four key U.S. markets have seen recreational cannabis sales drop amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

Cannabis sales in Colorado and Nevada declined from March 2019 to March 2020, the first time those states reported monthly declines in sales.

Sales in Washington state and California rose, but much less than expected under normal business conditions.

Bill to Add to Small Business Loan Stimulus Blocked in the Senate

A proposal to add $250 billion into a loan program to help small businesses stalled in the U.S. Senate after an objection by a Democratic senator to approve the measure by unanimous consent.

The funding was an increase to the $2.2 trillion stimulus package Congress passed last month.

After the measure stalled, the Senate adjourned for the Easter weekend and won’t reconvene until Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will try to pass another round of stimulus measures Friday, but that effort could be thwarted by Republicans with most representatives out of Washington.

Today’s Big Winners:

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) +15.8%

United Airlines Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: UAL) +14.5%

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) +9%

Today’s Big Losers:

Diamondback Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: FANG) -7%

Micron Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) -4.4%

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) -3.1%

Check back for the most important news and numbers each day after the Closing Bell, only on Money & Markets.