Alphabet shares surge 9% after Trump praises Google for coronavirus website


Ambassador Debbie Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, displays the new testing protocols being deployed for coronavirus after U.S. President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) – Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) closed up more than 9% after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday the search giant would create a website to help determine whether individuals need a coronavirus test or not.

“I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website, it’s gonna be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location…,” Trump said.

“Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now, made tremendous progress.”

Vice President Mike Pence said the launch date of the website would be known by Sunday night.

Google did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

President Trump, in the past, has repeatedly accused Google of skewing its search results to portray him negatively. The company also attracted frustration from the Trump administration for not renewing a contract to provide its artificial intelligence technologies for a military drone program.

Google last year re-organized its healthcare-related initiatives, aiming to increase the quality of results when people search for information about symptoms, diseases and personal health issues. It has hired dozens of healthcare experts for the new efforts.

The company has typically relied on data from Mayo Clinic, but in the case of the coronavirus, it has highlighted information from the World Health Organization for search results.

Google shares also gained on an uptick in broader markets on hopes that the actions announced by Trump would help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Reporting by Chris Sanders, Makini Brice and Paresh Dave; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Arun Koyyur

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