Friday morning brought a bull run on Wall Street, sending major market benchmarks higher. Investors reacted favorably to the thought that businesses might reopen their doors within a known time frame, and leaders appear to be getting onto the same page with respect to what the eventual reboot of the U.S. economy might look like. As of 11 a.m. EDT today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 306 points to 23,843. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) rose 34 points to 2,833, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) picked up 37 points to 8,569.
Companies fighting the coronavirus pandemic have seen mixed success, but good news in their efforts has generally resulted in big moves higher for their stocks. That was the case today for Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), and some see further gains ahead if these biotechs can make good on their promises to produce solutions in treating COVID-19.
Remdesivir hopes lift Gilead
Shares of Gilead Sciences were up 8% Friday morning as investors evaluated the prospects for a key treatment candidate. Although it's still early, anecdotal evidence about current clinical trials have a lot of people excited about the drug's possibilities.
Gilead has been evaluating its antiviral treatment remdesivir in phase 3 clinical trials at the University of Chicago's medical center. News reports revealed promising comments by researchers about the way that the Gilead drug has helped those suffering from COVID-19, including signs that some patients have recovered quickly after taking remdesivir.
Researchers were quick to walk back the comments, noting that they weren't part of official releases of full clinical trial data and therefore weren't appropriate for drawing conclusions. Gilead made similar comments while still looking forward to seeing complete data as it becomes available.
Many have seen Gilead's treatment as one of the most promising directions for fighting the disease. The more good results that come from clinical trials, the more attention Gilead will get from those hoping to put the coronavirus behind them once and for all.
The federal government just showed Moderna the money
Shares of Moderna jumped 12% as the company got a key sign of support from the federal government. With substantial funding, the biotech player expects to move forward aggressively with its plans for a possible COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna found out late Thursday that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, had awarded it a contract. The $483 million deal gives Moderna the go-ahead to hasten trials and development efforts for its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate. Current early stage trials through the National Institutes of Health are proceeding.
Investors shouldn't expect results overnight. Moderna said that it's hoping for a fall 2019 timeline for moving mRNA-1273 into late-stage trials. That suggests that even if successful, we could be well into 2021 before an approved version of a vaccine could become available.
Nevertheless, hope for an eventual solution to the challenges of coronavirus detection and treatment has shareholders excited about Moderna's prospects. Investors can expect both Moderna and Gilead to remain in the spotlight within the biotech stock world in the months to come.