Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks rise worldwide, lifted by hopes for virus progress

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks around the world rose on Friday as investors latched onto strands of hope about progress in the fight against the coronavirus.

The gains came even as scary data piles up about the economic and human toll of the virus, which has killed more than 146,000 worldwide and forced the formerly high-flying Chinese economy to shrink 6.8% last quarter. A measure of U.S leading economic indicators plunged last month by the most in its 60-year history.

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Gilead Sciences jumped 8% following a report that one of its drugs was reducing fevers in patients at a single hospital. Its stock began jumping in after-hours trading Thursday following the report’s release.

In a sign of caution in the market, Treasury yields remain extremely low. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 0.60% from 0.61% late Thursday. Bond yields drop when their prices rise, and investors tend to buy Treasurys when they’re worried about the economy.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS

Spirit AeroSystems bringing back some furloughed workers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A major aircraft parts supplier in Kansas is expected to bring about 2,100 furloughed workers back to work next week as Boeing prepares to resume production of its commercial airplanes.

The Wichita Eagle reports that Spirit AeroSystems also is planning resume work for more than 1,700 other workers in Wichita over the next three weeks.

Boeing is Spirit AeroSystem’s biggest customer.

Boeing said late Thursday that it will resume production of passenger jets in Washington state next week. It suspended work late last month after workers tested positive for the coronavirus. Boeing employees for the 737, 747, 767 and 777 airplanes will return as early as Monday with most returning to work by Tuesday,

FORD-SUPPLIER PLANT DAMAGED

Damage from twister threatens to disrupt Ford supply line

DETROIT (AP) — A tornado strike at a critical Ford manufacturing plant threatens to disrupt the automaker’s supply chain.

Ford disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday that the BorgWarner factory in Seneca, South Carolina, which makes a key transmission part for many of Ford’s most profitable vehicles, was severely damaged Monday when a twister rolled through. Seneca produces transfer cases for F-Series pickup trucks, Ford Explorer and Expedition SUVs, Transit vans and the Lincoln Aviator and Navigator SUVs. Transfer cases shift power to a second drive shaft to run all-wheel-drive vehicles.

Neither Ford nor BorgWarner could say when production would be resumed. Ford closed all its U.S. factories about a month ago due to the coronavirus outbreak.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-GEORGIA

Company: 4 Georgia poultry workers dead from coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A major U.S. meat producer says four of its poultry workers in Georgia have died after becoming infected by the coronavirus. Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson confirmed Friday the deaths of four infected employees in the rural southwest Georgia city of Camilla. He said three of them worked in the company’s chicken processing plant there, while the fourth person was employed outside the plant at one of Tyson’s nearby support operations. Tyson’s senior vice president for human resources, Hector Gonzalez, said in a statement the company is requiring workers to wear face masks, installing dividers at work stations and giving employees more space in break rooms. Tyson has not said how many employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NURSING HOMES

Virus ravages NY nursing homes

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The despair wrought on nursing homes by the coronavirus was laid bare Friday in a state report identifying numerous New York facilities where multiple patients have died. Nineteen of the state’s nursing homes have had at least 20 deaths linked to the pandemic.

The report’s release came after days of news media reports about homes so stricken by the virus, bodies had to be stacked inside storage rooms.

Connecticut released a similar list Thursday, reporting that eight nursing homes had at least 10 residents die.

ALTRIA-CEO RETIRES

Recovering from COVID-19, Altria CEO Howard Willard retires

NEW YORK (AP) — Altria Group says that Chairman and CEO Howard Willard, who is recovering from COVID-19, has retired. Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, did not say if the 56-year-old Willard’s retirement was related to his illness. The company said Willard, whose career spanned 28 years at the company, decided to retire. Chief Financial Officer Billy Gifford will replace Willard as CEO effective immediately.

The board of directors credited Willard for guiding the company as it transitions away from traditional cigarettes into non-combustibles.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-THAILAND BILLIONAIRES

Thai leader asks billionaires for help solving virus crisis

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s prime minister says he will appeal directly to the country’s 20 wealthiest people for assistance in overcoming the coronavirus crisis. He said in a televised address Friday that the government alone cannot solve the health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic, so other sectors should join what he called “Team Thailand.” He said the country’s billionaires have a tremendous influence on its economy and are wealthy even by international standards, so they could play important roles in Team Thailand.

A business council advising his government warned this week that as many as 10 million Thais could lose their jobs in the next few months if the crisis doesn’t ease.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-REMOTE TOURISM

Look left, turn right… jump! Islands offer remote tourism

LONDON (AP) — Wish you could travel to a faraway island during the lockdown? The Faroe Islands are offering remote tourism, where web users can control a real-life tour guide to trek around the remote archipelago’s quaint towns and volcanic islands. The innovation is meant to sustain global interest in the North Atlantic islands, which have recently come to rely more on revenue from tourism. And it might help locked-down people around the world broaden their horizons beyond their apartment walls.

Wearing helmet cameras, local guides provide commentary to web audiences remotely, guiding them across the Danish semiautonomous territory, which has had fewer than 200 confirmed COVID-19 cases and no deaths.

Tours started Wednesday and will run until at least April 25. They are webcast on a tourist board website and on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

LAND O’LAKES-NATIVE AMERICAN

Native American woman removed from Land O’Lakes packaging

ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (AP) — The Native American woman who has graced the packaging of Land O’Lakes butter, cheese and other products since the late 1920s has quietly disappeared.

Known as Mia, the woman was shown sitting in a serene landscape of lakes and woods. That landscape remains on the Minnesota cooperative’s packaging, but Mia is nowhere to be found. On some packaging she is replaced by photos of Land O’Lakes member farmers.

President and CEO Beth Ford said that as the cooperative, founded in 1921, looks toward its 100th anniversary it needed packaging that reflects the foundation and heart of the company’s culture.

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