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Stock Market Today: Gilead Gives Stocks a Booster Shot

Stocks rallied out of negative territory Friday after Gilead announced that remdesivir helped reduce COVID-19 mortality risk in a clinical trial.

Gilead Sciences (GILD, +2.2%) once again helped inject a little life into stocks Friday with the help of its coronavirus treatment remdesivir.

The major indices appeared poised for losses in early trading amid another record surge in U.S. COVID-19 cases, as well as yesterday's comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicating that the White House wants to cap unemployment benefits in the next round of coronavirus stimulus.

However, Gilead announced that an analysis of previously released clinical trial data revealed an "important finding": namely, a 62% reduction in mortality risk in coronavirus patients compared to the current standard of care. 

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The news was music to Wall Street's ears; financial stocks including JPMorgan Chase (JPM, +5.5%) and Goldman Sachs (GS, +4.5%) contributed to a 1.4% jump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to 26,075. The S&P 500 finished 1.1% higher to 3,185, while the small-cap Russell 2000 jumped 1.7% to 1,422.

The Nasdaq Composite gained a more modest 0.6%, but that marked a third straight close at record highs.

Get Ready for Earnings Season

Do some stretches over the weekend, because we're all about to engage in some serious rubbernecking next week.

That's when the second-quarter earnings season kicks off in earnest (you can check out the upcoming calendar here), and Wall Street's analysts are predicting nothing short of a bottom-line bloodbath.

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FactSet's John Butters reports that the S&P 500's collective Q2 earnings are expected to decline by a whopping 44.6% year-over-year -- the index's worst performance since the final quarter of 2008.

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"It should be noted that in the previous quarter, the actual earnings decline (-15.0%) was much larger than the estimated earnings decline at the end of the quarter (-6.9%), as analysts made unusually large cuts to EPS estimates after the end of the quarter and fewer companies reported positive EPS surprises than average," Butters writes. "The last time the actual earnings growth rate was lower than the estimated earnings growth rate at the end of the quarter was Q4 2010."

That's just the average, of course; analysts are actually expecting big things out of a few industries. E-commerce stocks bear watching to see if "at-home" trends really did drive the business many expected it to, and the same goes for many artificial intelligence companies.

Also worth a peek this earnings season are the fates of some of the most popular stocks on Robinhood – the trading app with a large Millennial following that has been the source of sudden wealth-creation stories in the market upturn, as well as its share of controversy.

We've recently examined seven of the platform's most widely held stocks – including a couple of dominant blue chips as well as some hopeful recovery plays – to see whether Wall Street's experts are as enthusiastic about their prospects.

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