U.S. stock futures were lower on Thursday night as investors continued to weigh the prospects of a potential coronavirus treatment.
The major averages were taken for a wild ride during the regular session after The Financial Times reported — citing documents accidentally published by the World Health Organization — that Gilead Sciences’ drug remdesivir did not improve coronavirus patients’ condition. The documents cited by the FT referred to a Chinese clinical trial.
Gilead noted that study was “terminated early due to low enrollment,” leaving it “underpowered to enable statistically meaningful conclusions. As such, the study results are inconclusive.”
To be sure, CNBC’s Jim Cramer raised doubt over the trial conducted in China, advising investors to wait for results from U.S. studies before disregarding the treatment.
“I say wait until the American studies come out,” Cramer said in a tweet. “University of Chicago study is a lot more rigorous. I would stick with that. You don’t have to believe it..But this is the third time the Chinese have said the drug doesn’t work.”
The coronavirus outbreak has dominated market sentiment for most of 2020 as investors grapple with the its economic consequences.
More than 2.6 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., over 800,000 cases have been confirmed. However, a decline in new daily cases has boosted equities from their lows reached on March 23.
The major averages have rallied more than 25% since late March, with the S&P 500 retracing about half of its downside move from the all-time high set Feb. 19.
The news on remdesivir knocked the major averages from their session highs, but another sharp rebound in oil prices capped the decline in equities.
U.S. crude futures for June delivery surged 19.7% to settle at $16.50 per barrel amid increasing bets for a U.S. production cut. Thursday’s gains brought oil’s two-day gains to more than 40%.
Still, West Texas Intermediate remains down more than 70% for the year despite the strong back-to-back gains.
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