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US financial markets rally
U.S. financial markets spiked sharply Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average soaring more than 700 points, or 3.4%.
The S&P 500 jumped 3.4% and the Nasdaq rose 2.6%.
Among the best performers for the Dow were Raytheon Technologies Corp and UnitedHealth Group, which both saw gains of approximately 8%.
UnitedHealth Group's large gains were likely boosted by news Wednesday that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who wanted to eliminate private health insurance and create a single-payer system, was dropping out of the race.
Investors are also welcoming some signs that the pandemic could be nearing its peak globally. China lifted the lockdown on Wuhan, the city where the first cases of the novel coronavirus emerged. Spain announced plans to gradually ease lockdown measures, with the country's finance minister, Maria Jesus Montero, saying at a press conference Tuesday night that "citizens will be able to get back to their normal life" starting April 26.
The U.S. remains among the worst affected countries, with over 400,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data compiled by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
Earlier in the week, authorities expressed hope that the rate of infections was possibly plateauing in some of the hardest-hit areas. In New York, the state most impacted by the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there was a "possible flattening of the curve" on Monday after the total number of hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and daily intubations were down.
Toyota extending production suspension through May 1 at all U.S. plants
Citing the "ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and decline in vehicle demand," Toyota said Wednesday it is extending its production suspension at all auto and components plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico through May 1.
But the company said it plans to resume production on May 4.
"Our service parts operations and finished vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate in order to meet the ongoing needs of our customers," the Japanese carmaker said. "We will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action in a timely manner."
It joins a growing list of automakers that have announced similar measures this week, including Nissan and Honda.
JetBlue to temporarily consolidate operations in major hubs
JetBlue announced Wednesday it is temporarily consolidating operations in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C., starting on April 15 for eight weeks.
This means the airline will temporarily suspend all services at major airports including LaGuardia Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and more.
JetBlue previously announced it is reducing its flying network by 80% per day during April as the airline industry takes a major hit from the COVID-19 outbreak.