What happened

Shares of tech stocks large and small got a last-minute (or more precisely, a last hour) boost in Friday trading. After President Trump went on television at 3 p.m. EDT and declared the coronavirus to be a "national emergency" in America, he sparked a stock rally that continued unabated all the way to the closing bell at 4 p.m. EDT.

In the cases of fiber-optic glassmaker Corning (NYSE:GLW) and communications laser-maker II-VI (NASDAQ:IIVI), the news transformed what had been a "down" day into positive profits of 11.4%, and 17.4%, respectively. In the case of semiconductor giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), it took an opening price that was already up nearly 5% over Thursday's close -- and quadrupled it. Intel closed the day up a staggering 19.5%.

Three colorful arrows racing straight up on a black background

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

It's not often that words like "national emergency" are greeted with such joy. So what was in the President's announcement that got tech investors so excited? Among other actions, the federal government is: 

  • Making "up to $50 billion" available to "states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease."
  • Waiving federal licensing rules to permit doctors to practice "telehealth" across state lines.
  • Partnering with private companies such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics "to vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test for the Coronavirus."
  • Accelerating Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new coronavirus tests from Roche and Thermo Fisher.
  • Facilitating "drive-through tests" for COVID-19 at "pharmacies and retailers."
  • Partnering with Alphabet's Google to "develop a website ... to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location." 
  • Waiving payments on "all student loans held by the federal government agencies ... until further notice."
  • Propping up oil prices with increased purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Now what

Although there's little in all of the above that seems directly applicable to the tech industry, investors appear to be hoping that the sum total of the efforts to accelerate testing for and treatment of COVID-19 will limit the damage the disease ends up doing to the U.S. economy -- which would be good news for tech companies and non-tech companies alike. This hope, combined with the infusion of federal dollars into the healthcare and oil industries, sparked joy among investors of all stripes, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq Composite, and the S&P 500 stock indices all up about 9.3% by the close of Friday trading.

The news may not have been tech-stock related -- but tech stocks still went along for the ride and enjoyed all 60 minutes of it.