What happened

Bank stocks rose on Friday, as positive COVID-19 treatment news helped calm investors' fears that surging coronavirus case counts could derail an economic recovery. Megabanks JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup (NYSE:C), and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) climbed 5.4%, 5.5%, 6.5%, and 6%, respectively. 

So what 

COVID-19 cases are increasing at a frightening pace in many parts of the U.S. Meanwhile, countries such as India and China are reinstituting lockdowns and closing schools in a desperate attempt to slow the spread of the dangerous disease. This is sparking concerns that government officials may need to slow and even reverse economic reopening plans in the U.S.

A person in a business suit is pointing to a digital chart that rises, then falls, then rises again.

Bank stocks rallied on Friday. Image source: Getty Images.

However, on Friday, biotechnology leader Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) said a recent analysis showed its experimental drug remdesivir reduced the risk of mortality in severe COVID-19 patients by 62%, compared with standard of care. Though these results still need to be confirmed by clinical trials, it was welcome news for investors. 

Now what 

If Gilead's remdesivir and other antiviral treatments can substantially reduce the risk of death from COVID-19, it could help more people safely return to work. That, in turn, could help the economy recover faster, which would be a boon for JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and other bank stocks.