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Stocks - Wall Street Higher on Fed Program, OPEC+ Eyed

Investing.com -- U.S. stock markets remained higher in morning trading Thursday after the Federal Reserve broadened its monetary safety net and investors awaited a decision from OPEC+ on production cuts.

Sentiment was also boosted by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin saying the U.S. economy could reopen in May and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell saying that if certain measure were taken the U.S. could see a "robust" recovery in the second half of the year.

By 11:30 AM ET (1530 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 364 points, or 1.6%. The S&P 500 was up 1.5% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.4%.

Investors are also keeping a close eye on OPEC+, which had started its virtual meeting. Oil prices swung sharply, with WTI futures jumping more than 10% on a report that Saudi Arabia and Russia had agreed to cuts of up to 20 million bpd, and then falling back down to be up just 3% after there was no cofirmation of such a deal.

The Fed's measures, which had been outlined before but not detailed, earmark another $2.3 trillion in support for the U.S. economy as the Covid-19 pandemic pushes more and more Americans into unemployment. The Labor Department said that another 6.61 million people filed initial claims for jobless benefits last week, more than the 5.25 million expected by economists beforehand, and only fractionally less than an upwardly revised record of 6.88 million the week before.

For the first time, the Fed also said it will buy high-yield corporate debt through exchange-traded funds, although it will still devote the bulk of the relevant program to buying investment-grade credit.  It will also buy the bonds of so-called 'fallen angels' - those recently downgraded to junk from investment grade, if they were downgraded after March 22.

As such, it will be able to depress the borrowing costs of companies like Ford Motor (NYSE:F), which lost its last investment grade credit rating on March 25. Ford stock rose 10%. 

Other stocks moving in early trading included Carnival  (NYSE:CCL), which is likewise under threat of being downgraded to junk despite its capital raising this month. Carnival stock rose 10%.

Elsewhere, Walt Disney  (NYSE:DIS) stock rose 4% after the company said its streaming service Disney+ had racked up 50 million paid subscribers worldwide, helped by rollouts in Europe and India. 

Gold Futures also surged on the Fed's news, rising 2.9% to $1,732.80 a troy ounce. 

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