What happened

Shares of Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) popped nearly 15% on Wednesday, following news of progress toward an effective COVID-19 treatment.

So what

Biotechnology giant Gilead Science (NASDAQ:GILD) announced positive results from its clinical trials for its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, which suggests that it could potentially help those infected with the disease recover faster. Health officials say Gilead's drug will now become the new standard of care for COVID-19 patients. 

The news sparked a rally in the financial markets, as investors grew hopeful that an effective treatment for COVID-19 could help the economy recover sooner than expected. Discover and other financial stocks were some of the biggest gainers.

A rising stock chart.

Shares of Discover Financial Services rose sharply on Wednesday. Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Discover's stock has been hit hard during the coronavirus crisis. Investors are concerned that with so many people unable to work, many will be forced to fall behind on their bills. A large number of loan defaults could crush Discover's profits.

If Gilead's new drug proves to be safe and effective, it could help to stave off a deep and prolonged recession. That would be great for Discover -- and for the global economy.