What happened

Stock markets continued "in the green" as Friday arrived to close out the week, and one of the bigger stocks reaping bigger gains right now is General Electric (GE 1.12%) -- up 5.8% as of 11:15 a.m. EDT.

So what

Why is GE up? Partially, for the same reason that everything is up:

The White House and Congress are preparing a massive $1 trillion economic stimulus plan that will reportedly:

  • Throw a $200 billion financial lifeline to industries suffering demand destruction in the wake of the novel coronavirus.
  • Make $300 billion available to businesses that have had to shut down for "social distancing" purposes, helping them to make payroll.
  • Send $1,000 coronavirus checks to every adult in America -- or $1,200, or even $2,000, depending on who's telling it -- to put cash in the pockets of consumers who may not be receiving a paycheck this month.

All of this has Wall Street feeling cautiously optimistic about stocks in general today. As for GE in particular, Thursday night after close of trading, GE announced that the FTC is ready to approve that company's sale of its GE BioPharma business to Danaher (DHR 1.08%) for about $21 billion.  

Man in suit handing over a wad of cash

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Now, the middle of a health crisis might seem a bad time for GE to be getting out of a healthcare business. To that extent, today's optimism about GE stock may not seem to make sense. On the other hand, though, GE is heading into this looming recession carrying a $94 billion debt load. The $20 billion in "net proceeds" GE will reap from its GE BioPharma sale will go a long way to making that debt load more manageable, and helping to tide GE through this present crisis.

And that, if you ask me, is the real reason GE stock is up so much today.