Wall Street’s Rally Fades

%%Wall Street’s Rally Fades%%

The Treasury is trying to expand the small-business loans program.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he has asked lawmakers for another $250 billion to supplement a new program created to help small businesses secure loans from banks, in response to an overwhelming demand for assistance through the program.Mr. Mnuchin, in a Twitter post-Tuesday afternoon, said that he had reached out to top Democrats and Republicans “at the direction” of President Trump to try and secure additional funds. Mr. Mnuchin said he had spoken with Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Kevin McCarthy.Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer were negotiating the possibility of approving the additional funding during a procedural session on Thursday, without the full chamber present.“It is quickly becoming clear that Congress will need to provide more funding or this crucial program may run dry,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement Tuesday. “That cannot happen. Nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in just the last two weeks. This is already a record-shattering tragedy, and every day counts.”“Congress needs to act with speed and total focus to provide more money for this uncontroversial bipartisan program,” he added.A spokesman for Mr. Schumer said that Mr. McConnell had not reached out to discuss the possibility of approving the additional funds.Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, said Tuesday morning that the program had so far funded 178,000 loans at a value of $50 billion.Congress has allocated $349 billion to the effort, known as the paycheck protection program, which was created as part of the $2 trillion economic stabilization package signed into law last month.Economists who pushed for the creation of the program in the economic rescue package have consistently warned that small businesses will need three times as much money as Congress initially authorized — or more — to avoid a wave of bankruptcies.Wall Street’s rally fizzles.U.S. stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday after an early rally faded late in the day.The S&P 500 fell 0.2 percent at the close of trading. Earlier, stocks had been more than 3 percent higher as investors took heart in continued signs that the coronavirus outbreak may be peaking in a number of hard-hit places.The decline came as benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 9.4 percent on Tuesday, after having climbed earlier in the day, trimming gains in shares of major oil producers. Oil prices have plunged by more than half since most state governments to ordered people to stay home.Stocks have been on a fairly strong, even if disjointed, run over the past two weeks. Initially fueled by Washington’s $2 trillion effort to counter the economic effect of the pandemic, the rally took on a more hopeful tone on Monday — reflecting glimmers of progress in the fight against the virus’s spread in the United States and Europe.Through Tuesday, the S&P 500 is up nearly 19 percent from its March 23 low. (It’s still more than 21 percent below its high, reached on Feb. 19.)In New York, the center of the global outbreak, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered some signs that the city was beginning to make progress in controlling the crisis. And China reported its first day since January with no deaths.Still, the global economy still faces daunting challenges before it can get back on track, and many companies continue to announce furloughs of employees and sustained shutdown of operations in the wake of an uncertain path forward. For example, the homebuilder D.R. Horton said Tuesday that it had withdrawn its previous financial forecasts for 2020.Major European markets rose about 2 percent Tuesday after Asian markets picked up steam later in their trading day.Jack Dorsey promises $1 billion to virus relief efforts.Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter and Square, said on Tuesday that he planned to donate $1 billion, or just under a third of his total wealth, to relief programs related to the coronavirus pandemic.Mr. Dorsey said he would put 28 percent of his wealth, in the form of shares in his mobile payments company Square, into a limited liability company that he had created, called Start Small. Start Small would make grants to beneficiaries, he said, with the expenditures to be recorded in a publicly accessible Google document.Mr. Dorsey, 43, joins a growing list of celebrities, world leaders and technologists who are earmarking some portion of their wealth to fighting the spread of the coronavirus and its effects.Oprah Winfrey has donated more than $10 million of her wealth to relief efforts, while other Hollywood personalities — including Justin Timberlake, Dolly Parton and Rihanna — have also made contributions. Last week, the Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said he would donate $100 million to American food banks through a nonprofit organization, Feeding America. And Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, has organized relief campaigns through Facebook and his own philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.President Trump’s pick for the pandemic inspector general is raising concerns.President Trump’s new nominee to oversee a $500 billion Treasury bailout fund, Brian D. Miller, has taken a dim view of congressional oversight and has suggested that lawmakers are increasingly trying to use inspectors general as pawns by calling for politically motivated investigations and demanding accountability.And he has warned that making inspectors general accountable to Congress poses a “danger” to their independence and creates separation of powers problems.“If you’re reporting to the Congress in that fashion, your independence is jeopardized,” Mr. Miller said in an interview last year.The fact that he has been working in the office of the White House counsel for the last year is raising concerns among Democratic lawmakers and ethics officials who say an independent watchdog needs to be an advocate for taxpayers, not the White House or Congress. The coronavirus economic relief legislation requires the inspector general to issue reports to Congress and alert lawmakers if his requests for information are stymied.“If he is appointed special inspector general, he’s going to be, in his mind, accountable to the executive,” said Virginia Canter, a former senior ethics counsel at the Treasury Department. “I don’t think he’s going to be accountable to Congress.”“I think it’s very troubling and it’s a red flag to me,” she said.Salve for a stressful time: Hamburger Helper.As the coronavirus shutdowns continue across the United States, two growing trends involving how people eat — the rising amount of money spent on meals outside the home and the increased purchase of fresh or organic foods in grocery stores — have been reversed. Many restaurants have closed, and shoppers are reaching for frozen pizza and boxes of cereal instead of organic greens and whole grains.That’s good news for big food companies like Kraft Heinz and J.M. Smucker, which have struggled in recent years to adapt as Americans shied away in great numbers from highly processed foods.Many large food businesses like the Campbell Soup Company, which had seen steady declines in soup sales the last two years, are now ramping up production and temporarily increasing wages for hourly employees to meet the higher demand. In the last month, sales of Campbell’s soup soared 59 percent from a year earlier. Prego pasta sauce increased 52 percent.Kraft Heinz, whose products had fallen out of favor with consumers, told investors last week that some of its factories were working three shifts to meet high demand for products like its macaroni and cheese.Just a few months ago, Sue Smith considered herself a healthy eater. She ate salads with kale and quinoa. She eliminated processed sugar from her diet. She avoided dairy products.During a recent trip to the grocery store, she threw two large boxes of Goldfish crackers into her shopping cart. She went all in on dairy.“We stocked up on the entire Chef Boyardee line. Chef Boyardee Ravioli. Chef Boyardee Beefaroni,” Ms. Smith said. “I hadn’t had that stuff in 20 years.”What will tomorrow’s workplace bring? More elbow room, for starters.Many Americans are weeks, if not months, from returning to their offices and regaining a semblance of a normal workday. Given the recent layoff and furlough announcements, many are wondering whether they will even have a job after the dust settles.But developers and building owners have begun to anticipate the time when the shelter-in-place orders are lifted and workers start heading back to the office. Those in the midst of planning suggest that the post-pandemic office might look radically different.Returning workers can expect stepped-up cleaning and a reinforcement of social distancing. Hand sanitizer stands will probably be positioned in lobbies. Maintenance staff will swab door handles. There may be limits on the number of people allowed in an elevator.Workplaces may have significant changes in the long run, including new seating arrangements and the addition of building materials that discourage the spread of germs. New technology could provide access to rooms and elevators without employees having to touch a handle or press a button.And the ability to work from home at least a few days a week may be here to stay.Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, expects more than 25 percent of employees to continue working from home multiple days a week, up from fewer than 4 percent who did so before the pandemic.“I don’t think that genie is going back into the bottle,” she said.Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus relief for small business.The federal stimulus bills enacted in March, including a $2 trillion economic relief plan, offer help for the millions of American small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.Cash grants. Low-interest loans. Payments to offset some payroll costs for businesses that keep or rehire workers. There are also enhancements to unemployment insurance and paid leave.Here are the answers to common questions about these programs. And we will update this article as we learn more about the details.Hundreds of airline workers test positive for coronavirus.Hundreds of flight attendants and pilots at U.S. airlines have been infected by the coronavirus, according to labor unions that represent them.The Association of Flight Attendants has counted about 200 cases among the workers it represents at nearly two dozen airlines, the union said on Tuesday. About half of those people work for United Airlines, the union’s largest member airline.Another 100 flight attendants at American Airlines had tested positive as of Sunday, according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents more than 27,000 of the company’s workers.Delta’s flight attendants are not unionized but its pilots are. According to that union, the Delta Master Executive Council, at least 51 pilots at the airline have tested positive for the disease, more than half of whom work in the New York area. At least 15 more are sick and awaiting test results.Representatives for American, Delta and United separately said that the airlines were in touch with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and were following the agency’s guidance, including notifying those who have come in close contact with employees who test positive for the disease.The virus is altering how Americans use the internet.Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with movie theaters closed and no restaurants to dine in, Americans have been spending more of their lives online. A New York Times analysis of internet usage reveals that our viewing and browsing habits have shifted, sometimes starkly, as the virus spread and pushed us to our devices for work, play and connecting.The new data suggests we are hungry for news (especially local news) and seeking out new ways to connect (most of all through video) at a time when we are not allowed to see each other in person.We are, of course, also seeking out streaming entertainment, but we are turning away from our phones and remembering the joys of using an old-fashioned computer instead of a tiny smartphone screen. The changes in behavior give an indication of some of the more subtle ways the current crisis is changing the way we live.Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.Honda and Nissan said on Tuesday that they intended to keep their U.S. plants closed at least until the end of April, and would stop paying idled factory workers who had been receiving all or part of their wages since production was halted last month. The companies said their workers would be able to claim state and federal unemployment insurance benefits.The restaurant company Darden, which owns Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, said on Tuesday that same-store sales had declined 39.1 percent so far in its fourth quarter. It also announced it was furloughing some employees and slashing executive pay by 50 percent.Japan said on Tuesday that it would move forward with a nearly trillion dollar stimulus package. Direct spending will come to 39.5 trillion yen ($362 billion), as the country makes cash payments to families and small businesses and invests in its ability to battle the virus. The balance will come from other measures such as tax breaks and interest free loans. Exxon Mobil said Tuesday it would reduce its 2020 capital spending by 30 percent, to $23 billion from $33 billion, as the company responds to the steep drop in oil prices. The oil giant said it would also lower cash operating expenses by 15 percent. WhatsApp , the Facebook -owned messaging app, announced a new limit on message forwarding on Tuesday in an attempt to slow the dissemination of misinformation. Users will be allowed to send a frequently forwarded message to only one chat at a time, instead of five.Reporting was contributed by Neal Boudette, Mike Isaac, Niraj Chokshi, Jane Margolies, Jack Ewing, Alan Rappeport, Emily Cochrane, Jim Tankersley, David Yaffe-Bellany, Ella Koeze, Nathaniel Popper, Jeanna Smialek, Ben Dooley, Ivan Penn, Aaron E. Carroll, Geneva Abdul, Carlos Tejada, Daniel Victor, Jason Karaian, Kevin Granville and Austin Ramzy.

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