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  • The Dow spiked 482 points on Friday after Merck announced successful data for its antiviral COVID-19 drug.
  • The drug cut hospitalizations and deaths in half for patients who tested positive for COVID.
  • The positive news from Merck offset new inflation data and Congress’ continued struggle to raise the US debt ceiling.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average spiked nearly 500 points on Friday, erasing early morning losses after Merck announced successful results for its antiviral drug in the treatment of COVID-19, renewing optimism around the recovery from the pandemic.

Merck ended its phase three trial of molnupiravir early after it said hospitalizations and deaths were cut in half for patients that took the drug after being infected with COVID-19. The pharmaceutical company said it will file for emergency use authorization as soon as possible and plans to have 10 million available doses by the end of the year.

Merck’s positive drug data helped offset the biggest jump in inflation in 30 years, with core inflation jumping 3.6% in August, and Congress struggling to raise the US debt ceiling before the US Treasury runs out of money on October 18.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Friday:

Shares of Merck jumped as much as 12% on Friday after it announced positive data for its antiviral COVID-19 treatment. While Merck soared, vaccine makers like Moderna, Novavax, and BioNTech plummeted as much as 16%.

Bitcoin jumped as much as 9%, helping the popular cryptocurrency reclaim technical resistance levels represented by its 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

The SEC again delayed its decision on approval of a bitcoin ETF, pushing the deadline back 45 days as it mulls approval for a first ever US crypto fund.

Lordstown Motors fell 18% on Friday after the company gave a production update and confirmed that iPhone manufacturer Foxconn would purchase its Ohio plant for $230 million.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped as much as 0.83%, to $75.65 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, jumped 0.98%, to $79.08 per barrel.

Gold rose as much as 0.10%, to $1,758.70 per ounce.