Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Wall Street up as recovery hopes overshadow virus worries

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is sharply higher as hopes for economic recovery overshadow worries over the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 jumped to a nearly 3-month high, recovering much of its post-pandemic losses. Investors are shifting their focus to how various nations are adapting to getting back to business, while striving to keep new COVID-19 cases in check.

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Reassuring comments by the head of China’s central bank also helped spur buying.

Benchmarks in Paris, London and Tokyo also gained.

NYSE-FLOOR REOPENS

Bell rings but trading floor chaos subdued as NYSE reopens

NEW YORK (AP) — The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange is reopening for the first time in two months, but it doesn’t look — or sound — the same.

The floor, known for the chaotic proximity of traders shouting orders over one another, has been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Fewer traders will be on the floor in order to support six-feet social distancing requirements. They also must wear masks, so no “verbal interest” orders will be allowed

. Anyone entering the Exchange is also being asked to avoid public transportation and will have their temperature taken before entry.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

Consumer confidence up slightly but remains near 6-year low

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence inched up this month, showing signs of stabilizing, but remains near a six-year low in the face of the widespread business shutdowns that have sent the economy into recession.

The Conference Board says its confidence index ticked up to a reading of 86.6 in May from 85.7 in April. The index, which reflects consumers’ assessment of present conditions and expectations about the future, had plummeted during the previous two months.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses across the country to close, stifling consumer spending, which drives about 70% of all economic activity in the United States.

NEW HOME SALES

US new-home sales post slight gain in April

BALTIMORE (AP) — U.S. new home sales ticked up 0.6% in April, a surprising gain amid the coronavirus outbreak that hints at the relative health of many consumers.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that sales of new single-family homes rose slightly to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 623,000 last month. This followed a decline of 13.7% in March.

Over the past 12 months, sales are down 6.2%. 

HOME PRICES

US home price gains quickened in March as sales plunged

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices accelerated in March even though sales plummeted, as those Americans still buying bid for a sharply diminished supply of homes.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 3.9% in March, the largest gain in more than a year, up from 3.5% in February.

Home sales fell 8.5% in March before plummeting 17.8% in April, according to the National Association of Realtors, as the viral outbreak and business shutdowns caused a flood of layoffs and restricted economic activity. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FRANCE-AUTO INDUSTRY

France deploys $8.8 billion to rescue ailing car industry

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a plan to save the country’s car industry from huge losses wrought by virus lockdowns, including a big boost for electric vehicles.

The plan is worth $8.8 billion. It includes government subsidies for car buyers and longer-term investment in innovative technology, especially in battery-powered cars.

Macron said that the country “country wouldn’t be the same without its great brands – Renault, Peugeot, Citroen.” He announced a goal of making France the leading producer of “clean” cars in Europe.

The package does not include a government loan guarantee under discussion for struggling Renault.

ENERGY LEASES-SAGE GROUSE

Judge strikes down US energy leasing rules in bird habitat

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has dealt a setback to the Trump administration’s efforts to increase domestic oil and gas exploration.

Judge Brian Morris said administration officials failed to protect habitat for a declining bird species when it issued leases on hundreds of thousands of acres. The case involves greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that’s seen its numbers drop dramatically in recent decades.

In his ruling late Friday, Morris struck down administration policies that have allowed more drilling in sage grouse habitat. The judge also canceled leases on more than 300,000 acres in Montana and Wyoming and required officials to return the sales proceeds to companies.

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