Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks drift higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were drifting higher in midday trading on Wall Street after erasing earlier losses, as investors close out a brutal first quarter.

Despite a slight gain for Tuesday, the S&P 500 is still headed for a loss of more than 18% for the first three months of the year.

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The surge of coronavirus cases has sent markets tumbling since mid-February, halting what had been a good start to the year. Stocks have clawed back some of those losses with a rally the past week.

Massive aid for the economy and markets from the Federal Reserve and Capitol Hill have helped spur some buying.  

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

Confidence tumbled as virus impact was felt

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence tumbled in March to the lowest level in nearly three years as the impact of the coronavirus began to be felt.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its confidence index dropped to a reading of 120 in March from February’s 132.6. The steep decline reflected rising worries about the coronavirus during the survey period of March 1-18.

Economists say confidence is sure to fall further as the virus’ impact takes a bigger toll on the economy.

HOME PRICES

BALTIMORE (AP) — U.S. home price growth was showing signs of acceleration in January. It was a sign of the solid demand that existed before the coronavirus outbreak caused millions of job losses and tossed the U.S. economy into a likely recession. 

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 3.1% in January from a year ago, up from a 2.8% annual gain in December.

Phoenix posted the strongest annual price growth at 6.9%, followed by Seattle and Tampa at 5.1%.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AMAZON

Amazon fires worker who organized walkout

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has fired a worker who organized a walkout at a New York warehouse to demand greater protection against the new coronavirus.

The company says the employee himself flouted distancing rules and put others at risk.

The decision prompted a rebuke from New York’s attorney general, who called on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate. She said her office is also considering legal options, saying the right to organize is protected in New York.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AIRLINES

Treasury wants airlines to say how they’ll repay grants

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says airlines that want financial help during the coronavirus outbreak need to say how they will compensate the government for grants used to meet payroll.

The economic-relief bill passed last week gives the Treasury Secretary the power to take an equity stake in airlines that get taxpayer help. The measure includes $25 billion for grants and $25 billion in loans or loan guarantees for passenger airlines.

The Treasury Department posted rules Monday night and told airlines to apply for help by late Friday or face delays in processing their requests. American Airlines plans to seek $12 billion.

 

FEDERAL RESERVE-FOREIGN REPO

Fed steps in once again to try to smooth out lending markets

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is intervening once again to try to smooth out the world’s lending markets, this time by lending dollars to other central banks in exchange for Treasurys.

The Fed’s move marks its latest aggressive effort to keep borrowing rates down and ensure that financial markets can continue to function in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. The virus has caused a near-shutdown of economic activity in the United States and abroad and has made it harder for some banks and companies to borrow.

The Fed is trying to facilitate lending and boost confidence that it’s ready to do everything it can to support the global financial system.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-RECESSIONS IN HISTORY

Analysts say recessions may be worse than some nations have seen in our lifetimes

LONDON (AP) — The coronavirus-related recessions around the world are going to be bad. And for some of the world’s major industrial nations, according to analysts at Deutsche Bank, they will be the worst that anyone alive has experienced.

In a wide-ranging report using data that in parts goes back 800 years, Deutsche Bank analyst found that the downturns are in many cases set to be deeper than those endured in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis 12 years ago — and then some.

The say that the expected decline in the U.S. this year would be the 9th largest since 1900. For Germany, it would be the 10th worst since 1851.

TRUMP-MILEAGE ROLLBACK

Trump administration rolls back Obama-era mileage standards

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is rolling back tough Obama-era mileage standards and gutting one of the United States’ biggest efforts to slow climate change.

The administration released its relaxed mileage rules Tuesday. The Obama administration had set the tougher mileage standards to encourage production of electric cars and more efficient gas and diesel vehicles.

Tailpipe exhaust is a major contributor to climate changing emissions.

The Trump administration argues relaxing mileage standards will save automakers the cost of new emissions technology and make vehicles cheaper for Americans to buy. But opponents say Americans will spend far more on fuel than they save on purchase costs.

MARRIOTT DATA BREACH

Marriott sees another big data breach

UNDATED (AP) — Marriott says guests’ names, loyalty account information and other personal details may have been accessed in the second major data breach to hit the company in less than two years.

The world’s largest hotel company says approximately 5.2 million guests may have been affected. The information taken may have included names, addresses, birthdays, room preferences and loyalty information for linked companies like airlines.

Marriott says it’s still investigating, but it doesn’t believe credit card information, passport numbers or driver’s license information was accessed. The company says it is notifying impacted guests.

Marriott also discovered a massive data breach in late 2018.

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