Retailers Shut Stores Amid U.S. Protests: Live Business Updates

Live Stock Market News During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Live Stock Market News During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Live Stock Market News During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Stocks on Wall Street followed global markets higher on Friday, at the end of a turbulent week in which concerns about the growing number of coronavirus infections around the world led to renewed talk about efforts to prop up economies.

The S&P 500 was up about 1 percent. European markets rose about 1 percent. Friday’s gains put the index on track for a gain of more than 3 percent for the week and the month of June.

All week long, investors have weighed data showing that the worst of the economic damage from the pandemic might be over against a cascade of news about new and widening outbreaks.

On Friday, the focus was clearly on recovery: Retailers and airlines were among the best performers on the S&P 500, reflecting bets on a return to normal and a degree of economic optimism. Energy stocks also climbed as crude oil futures crossed above $40 a barrel.

The push and pull this week has come amid mixed reports on the economy. A Labor Department report Thursday showed that another 1.5 million U.S. workers had filed for state unemployment benefits. The pace of layoffs has slowed in recent weeks but remains elevated. On Tuesday the Commerce Department said that U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in May, as stores reopened and governments lifted some restrictions. But there is growing uncertainty about the economic picture going forward.

Concerns about another wave of infections put a stop to a market rally from late March to early June, during which the S&P 500 climbed some 45 percent. Many economists expect governments will now make new plans to bolster business in the face of rising coronavirus cases.

Boston Fed’s president points to a ‘steady stream of interest’ in the Main Street lending program.

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Eric Rosengren, said that the Fed has registered 200 banks, large and small, for its emergency credit program that will offer loans to small and midsize businesses.

The Fed’s so-called Main Street lending program, which is meant to offer companies access to cheap loans through banks, opened for lender registrations on Monday. The program offers loans with a five-year term, with no principal due for the first two years and interest deferred in the first year. The Fed will buy 95 percent of the lending from bank balance sheets, allowing the lenders to make origination fees while retaining only a slice of the risk.

“These are still early days in the program, and we are seeing a steady stream of interest,” Mr. Rosengren said in a speech released Friday. The regional Fed branch he leads is charged with administering the program.

There have been questions about how effective the program will be at stoking lending and borrowing, and the Fed has revised its terms to make it more attractive based on feedback. Still, there have been reports that awareness of the program is lagging.

In the same set of remarks, he warned about the outlook for the economy as some states reopen before the coronavirus is under control.

Because of the continued spread of the disease “and the acceleration of new cases in many states, I expect the economic rebound in the second half of the year to be less than was hoped for at the outset of the pandemic,” Mr. Rosengren said. “With low inflation and high unemployment through this year and next, I believe additional policy stimulus is necessary.”

In its new war on the coronavirus, China is going easier on the restrictions.

As China tries to stifle a new outbreak in Beijing, it is applying something often alien to the instincts of the country’s rulers: restraint.

The brunt of the government’s measures has been borne by food traders at markets that were sealed off after cases were found, and by the residents of more than four dozen apartment complexes placed under lockdown. But in many other Beijing neighborhoods, the shops, restaurants and even hair salons are still operating. Traffic is a little lighter than usual, but plenty of cars are still on the road. City sidewalks remain busy.

Beijing’s leaders are trying to stamp out the latest outbreak, now at 183 infections after 25 more were announced Friday morning. But they are not crushing the entire city, and its nascent economic revival, with heavy-handed restrictions.

The approach contrasts with China’s earlier efforts to contain the virus in the central province of Hubei and its capital city, Wuhan, where the epidemic broke out late last year. For over two months, the city of 11 million was under a tight lockdown that required support from tens of thousands of doctors, party officials and security personnel. The lockdown helped control the outbreak but also stalled the economy.

If successful, the new approach being taken in Beijing could be a bellwether for how China may handle future outbreaks, which many experts say are almost certain.

“You cannot expect people to accept the pain for too long,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations who has closely followed China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Because then you have unemployment problems and even emotional stresses that could all have huge implications for social and political stability.”

Consider Patti Hanks, 62, who recently had ovarian cancer treatment. With her immunity low, she was nervous about returning to her workplace, a store where she would be drawing up financing plans and taking cash payments from customers. The cancer makes her particularly susceptible to severe complications should she contract the virus.

But Ms. Hanks was even more worried about losing her health coverage if she didn’t go back. Finding a job with health benefits that allowed her to work from home felt like a pipe dream given the economic downturn.

So despite her reservations, she returned to work. She wears a mask and makes sure customers sit a good distance away at an L-shaped desk.

Pre-existing conditions may motivate other workers like Ms. Hanks to return to work especially fast. Those people need coverage to treat the conditions that make them vulnerable in the first place. In the United States, 61 percent of working-age adults get health insurance through work.

“It is one of the many ways the U.S. health care system has made us so much more vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic than other countries,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “In other countries, you don’t hear about people losing health insurance when they lose their jobs.”

It’s official: Hertz, the bankrupt car-rental company, has canceled its plan to sell $500 million in new stock.

The offering seemed like a good idea only a week ago. Some investors seemed keen to pour money into Hertz’s stock even after the company’s bankruptcy filing last month, so why not offer them more shares to buy? Hertz submitted a plan to a bankruptcy judge, who approved it on Friday. On Monday morning, the company said it was moving forward. But then it hit a snag.

The Securities and Exchange Commission told Hertz that it was reviewing the plan. “When you let a company know that the S.E.C. has comments on their disclosure, they do not go forward until those comments are resolved,” the commission’s chairman, Jay Clayton, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Trading in the company’s shares was halted midday on Wednesday, and Hertz said in a filing that it had suspended the sale “pending further understanding of the nature and timing” of the S.E.C.’s review. On Thursday afternoon, Hertz said its board had decided that it was “in the best interests of the company” to scrap the sale altogether.

That decision might end up protecting the very investors who would have bought the shares. After all, when Hertz announced the offering this week, it acknowledged that the new shares could become “worthless” — a common outcome in bankruptcies.

Adam Aron, chief executive of AMC Entertainment Holdings, has prompted a backlash on social media by saying that moviegoers would not be required to wear masks at the company’s theaters when they reopen next month.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” Mr. Aron said in an interview published on Thursday by Variety magazine. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.”

Mr. Aron also said that AMC Theaters, the largest theater operator in the United States, would not perform temperature checks on patrons, a practice some businesses have adopted to screen for fever related to the virus.

The company had already announced this month that patrons might be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks but that face coverings would be mandatory for all employees, a point that Mr. Aron reiterated in the interview.

But his comments prompted a swift backlash anyway.

“How is public health ‘political?’” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Then I’m out!” appeared on another Twitter account. “You should be protecting your customers. Follow the science.”

A spokesman for AMC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • The British government said Friday that the national debt, at 1.95 trillion pounds ($2.4 trillion), now exceeded the country’s gross domestic product, the first time this has happened in 57 years. The ratio of debt to G.D.P., which reached 100.9 percent at the end of May, has risen sharply as the government has borrowed heavily to finance programs to support the economy during the pandemic, and as the economy has contracted because of lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.

  • McDonald’s said it was expecting to hire about 260,000 restaurant employees this summer as states reopen their economies and the company welcomes customers back to its dining rooms. To protect workers and customers, the company said that it put into place nearly 50 new safety procedures, including temperature checks for employees, protective barriers for ordering and social-distancing stickers on the floor.

Reporting was contributed by Jeanna Smialek, Keith Bradsher, Chris Buckley, Sarah Kliff, Mohammed Hadi, Niraj Chokshi, Jenny Gross, Mike Ives, Brooks Barnes, Gregory Schmidt and Kevin Granville.

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