Stocks bounced back and forth and ultimately ended with nice gains as oil staged a huge rally, but a record jump in jobless claims added concerns, plus more in today’s Closing Bell on Money & Markets.

The Top Story

Equities were boosted after President Donald Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia and Russia to stop their oil price war and cut output.

Stocks gave away a 500-point gain later in the day only to surge again late to finish with nice gains despite a shocking report showing 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims last week.

On Thursday morning, Trump said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, urging them to cut oil production by at least 10 million barrels in an attempt to boost oil prices. Oil surged 24% on news of the discussions.

The S&P energy index, down by half this year, climbed 10%, with big gains for majors Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) powering a near 2% rise for both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones.

“The surge in crude is helping the mood, so we’re seeing some relief in markets that have been hammered,” Richard Steinberg, chief market strategist at Colony Group, said.

The Dow Jones index rose 2.2%. The S&P 500 moved 2.3% higher while the Nasdaq Composite moved up 1.7%.

Stock Market Update: Closing Bell*

S&P 500: 2,526 (+2.3%)
DOW: 21,413 (+2.2%)
NASDAQ: 7,487 (+1.7%)
GOLD: $1,636.80 (+2.8%)
BITCOIN: $6,752.06 (+8.6%)
U.S. 10-YEAR YIELD: 0.62%

*- as of 4:12 p.m.

A Big Win

This morning, in the Opening Bell, we told you to watch for Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) after the company launched its Disney+ streaming service in the Middle East. The stock rose 2% despite a downgrade from Guggenheim.

Diffusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: DFFN) got a morning bounce after it reported evaluating its acute respiratory distress syndrome drug on a patient with COVID-19. But the bubble burst on the stock as it fell more than 19.6%.

Despite a strong earnings report, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA) suffered a sell-off due to increased coronavirus fears. Shares of Walgreens fell 6.3%.

Golden Nuggets

The massive jump in U.S. jobless claims proved to be good news for precious metals.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported an increase of 6.6 million in jobless claims last week.

Gold futures jumped 3% to trade at $1,639.20 an ounce. Silver futures moved 4.8% higher to $14.66 an ounce.

Platinum was 1.81% higher at $730.80 an ounce while palladium dropped 0.2% to $2,135 an ounce.

Cannabis Corner

Illinois continues to enjoy a boom in recreational cannabis sales.

In March, the state reported sales of $35.9 million in pot products. That’s a slight increase from the $34.8 million in sales reported the month before.

Since the drug was fully legalized in January, Illinois pot shops have sold nearly $110 million in recreational marijuana products.

US Trade Deficit Hits 3 ½-Year Low on Sinking Chinese Imports

On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit in February 2020 fell close to its lowest level since September 2016.

The deficit fell 12.2% — the largest percentage decline since March 2018 — to $39.9 billion. The primary reason is the coronavirus pushing Chinese imports to their lowest levels since 2009.

The goods trade deficit with China dropped to $16 billion, the lowest since March 2009. Imports from China in February were the lowest since May 2009. Exports to China were the fewest since June 2010.

In February, goods imports fell by 2.4% to $198.4 billion. That was the lowest since October 2017 and reflected decreases in imports of capital goods, industrial supplies and materials, consumer goods.

Today’s Big Winners:

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) +18.7%

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) +10.9%

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) +7.6%

Today’s Big Losers:

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: NCLH) -12%

United Airlines Holding Inc. (Nasdaq: UAL) -8.7%

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA) -6.3%

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