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Stocks Surge as Virus Slows in Some Areas

Stocks rallied on Monday as investors seized on signals that the coronavirus outbreak may be peaking in some of the world’s worst-hit places.

The number of new confirmed deaths and infections is slowing in parts of Europe, and the number of deaths in New York has been steady for two days. In Italy and Spain, the total number of patients continues to climb, but the rate of new infections is no longer rising.

Wall Street analysts have been closely tracking the growth path of infections, with some spotlighting recent news as an indication that the outbreak could be near a peak in the United States. Analysts highlighted the tentative deceleration of infections in New York as a good sign for other virus hot spots in the country, as well as for stock market sentiment.

“This does not mean that the all clear is immediate, nor does it mean that the U.S. American Business News economy will quickly recover. But the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to emerge,” Dan Clifton, a partner at Strategas Research Partners, a financial and economic consulting firm, wrote in a note.

The optimism drove shares sharply higher. The S&P 500 rose 7 percent, its biggest gain since March 24, when it climbed more than 9 percent.

Some areas of the market that have been hit hardest by shutdowns of economic activity soared. The hotel chain Marriott and the casino company Wynn Resorts, for example, each rose more than 15 percent. Credit card companies also rallied, after being hammered by soaring unemployment in recent weeks, which makes people less likely to pay their bills. Capital One and Discover Financial both jumped more than 15 percent.

Shares of cruise operator Carnival jumped by more than 20 percent after Saudi Arabia’s state investment fund said it has acquired an 8 percent stake in the company.

Still, there was a strong defensive tilt to trading. The utilities sector — typically an area dominated by risk-averse investors — was one of the best performing in the S&P 500, with a gain of almost 8 percent.

That suggests investors still see plenty of reason to be cautious.

The slow of the spread of the disease is a good first step in reducing the impact on hospitals, Press Release Distribution Service but it still could take some time to open the economy more broadly. On Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York cautioned that the state was still facing an emergency.

A more widespread approach to testing that gives companies and consumers confidence that life is returning to some semblance of normal will be crucial, Scott Clemons, the chief investment strategist for private banking at Brown Brothers Harriman, wrote in an email.

“Progress on that front, or the lack thereof, is a potential source of future market volatility,” Mr. Clemons wrote. “I don’t think we’re out of the woods quite yet.”

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