Payments processor PayPal gave investors solid motivation along with a surprise jump in Chinese imports as hopes of a faster economic recovery pushed the stock market higher, plus more in today’s Closing Bell on Money & Markets.

The Top Story

PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) gained 14%, providing the S&P 500 with a huge boost as the company forecast a strong recovery in payments as more and more people shop online due to the coronavirus lockdown.

That helped push the technology index up 1.5%. In addition, PayPal competitor Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) rose by 2.2%.

“With expectations just set so low, any positive news is really being welcomed, and the continuing negative news, to some extent, is being pushed to the side,” Cherry Lane Investments partner Rick Meckler said.

Wall Street’s fear gauge eased to levels it was trading at in early March before volatility leapt to 12-year highs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the S&P 500 is still about 15% below its Feb. 19 record-high close.

The latest data showed 3.17 million Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week (see more below), but the number marked the fifth straight weekly decline in applications. The more comprehensive nonfarm payroll report is due on Friday.

Energy stocks rose 2.5%, the most among 11 major sectors, on optimism around future oil demand after China’s overseas shipments in April rose for the first time this year as factories raced to make up for lost sales.

The Dow Jones was up 1%. The S&P 500 was 1.2% higher and the Nasdaq jumped 1.4%.

Stock Market Update: Closing Bell*

S&P 500: 2,881 (+1.1%)
DOW: 23,875 (+0.9%)
NASDAQ: 8,979 (+1.4%)
GOLD: $1,727.20 (+2.3%)
BITCOIN: $9,886.21 (+7.1%)
U.S. 10-YEAR YIELD: 0.63% (-0.083)

*- as of 4:15 p.m.

A Big Win

In this morning’s Opening Bell, we told you about Peloton Interactive Inc. (Nasdaq: PTON). The exercise equipment company said it expects sales to only go up over the course of the year. Shares of Peloton rose 16%.

We also told you to be on the lookout for Twilio Inc. (NYSE: TWLO). The cloud communication platform blew the doors off analyst expectations for revenue, and the company said it will only get better. Twilio shares rose more than 39.6% in afternoon trading.

Golden Nuggets

Precious metals enjoyed a surge along with equities as the U.S. dollar index showed signs of weakening.

Gold futures jumped 2.3% to trade at $1,727.20 an ounce. Silver futures climbed 3.9% to $15.60 an ounce.

Platinum moved 1.9% higher to $779.90 an ounce, while palladium pushed up 3.7% to trade at $1,824 an ounce.

Cannabis Corner

High Times Holding Corp. is on its third chief executive officer in a year as the cannabis magazine publisher works to get an initial public offering off the ground.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, Stormy Simon stepped down from the company after only four months. She is being replaced by former American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) executive Peter Horvath.

Millions More Americans File for Unemployment Benefits

The U.S. Department of Labor said another 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims, which is the fewest since the week ending March 14, before the coronavirus pandemic caused claims to spike.

It still leaves around 33.5 million Americans out of work since authorities ordered businesses to close to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Florida accounted for about 40% of the decline in claims last week, which some economists attributed to difficulties processing applications. There were also big drops in filings in California, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey.

While the number of claims are going down, it’s likely to push April’s unemployment rate — due tomorrow — to levels not seen since 1948.

Today’s Big Winners:

Fortinet Inc. (Nasdaq: FTNT) +21.2%

PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) +14%

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) +5.6%

Today’s Big Losers:

Welltower Inc. (NYSE: WELL) -7.5%

Biomarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (Nasdaq: BMRN) -3.2%

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) -4%

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