Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares fall back on weak oil prices, Japan trade data

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares trended lower in Asia today as oil prices fell back and Japan’s trade data for March was weaker than expected.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong lost 0.1% while the Shanghai Composite index added 0.4% The Sensex, in India, was flat.

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Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gave up 1.2% while the S&P/ASX 200 declined 2.5%. Shares also fell in Taiwan, Singapore and Jakarta but rose in Bangkok.

Friday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 added 75 points to 2,874.56, while the Dow Jones Industrials average advanced 3% to 24,242.49. The Nasdaq composite index gained 1.4% to 8,650.14.

Wall Street is set for a lower opening this morning, with S&P and Dow futures both down 0.5%.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-WASHINGTON

Trump, Congress near deal on small business, hospital aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration and Congress expect an agreement today on a coronavirus aid package of up to $450 billion.

It would boost a small-business loan program that has run out of money and add funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.

President Donald Trump said Sunday the administration is “very close to a deal.” The Senate is scheduled for a pro forma session today, but no vote has been set.

The House announced it could meet as soon as Wednesday for a vote.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is hopeful of a deal that could pass Congress quickly and get the small business payroll program back up by midweek. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LA CITY WORKERS

Thousands of LA city workers must take 26 furlough days.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thousands of Los Angeles city workers must take 26 furlough days — the equivalent of a 10% pay cut — over the course of the next fiscal year as the nation’s second-largest city deals with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.

Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement Sunday in his emotional State of the City address as he warned of an economic blow far worse than the 2008 recession, when city leaders laid off hundreds of workers and eliminated thousands of jobs.

Garcetti said, “Our city is under attack. Our daily life is unrecognizable.”  

JAPAN-TRADE

Japan’s exports sink in March as pandemic hits major markets

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s exports sank 11.7% in March as the coronavirus pandemic slammed auto shipments to the U.S.

The Finance Ministry says that exports to the U.S. fell 16.5% in March from a year earlier, while those to China declined 8.7%.

The outlook is grim, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting the world economy is heading into its worst slowdown since the 1930s’ Great Depression.

Japan’s overall imports in March also suffered, sinking 5.0%, according to the provisional figures that aren’t seasonally adjusted.

The economy of China, Japan’s major trading partner, is undergoing its worst contraction, at least since the 1960s, according to Beijing.

A chief economist for SMBC Nikko Securities, lowered his projections for the Japanese economy, saying it contracted at a 21% annual pace in the first quarter. An earlier forecast called for a 14% contraction.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SHAKE SHACK

Shake Shack gets funding, to return paycheck protection loan

UNDATED (AP) — The burger chain Shake Shack says it has obtained new funding and will return a small-business loan it got to help weather the coronavirus crisis.

CEO Randy Garutti and founder Danny Meyer say in a statement that Shake Shack has laid off or furloughed hundreds of its employees and needed the assistance.

But the company was able to get extra funding late last week through an “equity transaction” and decided to “immediately return” the $10 million paycheck protection loan it obtained through the CARES Act.

Garutti and Meyer say, “we’re fortunate to now have access to capital that others do not. Until every restaurant that needs it has had the same opportunity to receive assistance, we’re returning ours.”

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NURSING HOMES

New guidelines for nursing homes

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has announced new guidelines requiring nursing homes nationwide to report to patients, their families and the federal government when they have cases of coronavirus.

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said during a Sunday evening White House press briefing that the new rules will mandate that nursing homes report cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said the moves are aimed at increasing transparency about the spread of the virus at facilities where populations can be especially vulnerable to its effects.

According to an Associated press tally, there have been 7,121 deaths at long-term care facilities nationwide.

Verma also discussed plans to allow elective surgeries to resume after being placed on hold during the pandemic.

That move is coming as part of larger Trump administration guidelines to reopen the economy and Verma said lifting restrictions would be gradual — not like flipping on a light switch, but “more like a sunrise.”

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOS ANGELES-FURLOUGH

Mayor announces furlough days for city workers

LOS ANGELES — Thousands of Los Angeles city workers must take 26 furlough days — the equivalent of a 10% pay cut — over the course of the next fiscal year as the nation’s second-largest city deals with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.

Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement Sunday in his emotional State of the City address as he warned of an economic blow far worse than the 2008 recession, when city leaders laid off hundreds of workers and eliminated thousands of jobs.

The news provided a glimpse of what cities across California can expect as the state copes with the loss of 100,000 jobs last month because the coronavirus outbreak shuttered nonessential businesses. The figure barely begins to account for damage done to the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Garcetti says tax revenues will come in far short of projections because of a major decline in hotel reservations and airport passenger traffic. The city has already tapped $70 million from its special funds and reserve fund to cover the costs of responding to the pandemic.

AUSTRALIA-MEDIA

Australia to make Google and Facebook pay for news content

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government says global digital platforms Google and Facebook will be forced to pay for news content in Australia. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will release draft rules in late July for the platforms to pay fair compensation for the journalistic content siphoned from news media. The ACCC had tried to negotiate a voluntary code but the parties couldn’t agree on payment. Google and Facebook said they’d been working hard on the voluntary code.

Australia’s decision comes as the coronavirus pandemic causes advertising revenue to collapse. Frydenberg said Google was netting 47% of online advertising spending excluding classified ads in Australia, and Facebook was claiming 24%.

Media companies have stopped printing dozens of newspaper mastheads across Australia because the pandemic shutdown has caused advertisers to stop spending.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MARIJUANA HOLIDAY

4/20 fizzle: Pot industry tested as virus slams economy

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The unofficial holiday saluting all things cannabis arrives at a challenging time for the nation’s legal marijuana industry.

Today is April 20, or 4/20. That’s the code for marijuana’s high holiday, which is usually marked with outdoor festivals and communal smoking sessions. But this year, stay-at-home orders have moved the party online as the marijuana market braces for an economic blow from the coronavirus crisis.

In a relatively new legal industry, there’s no template for how consumers will react during an expected economic downturn.

Sales soared at the start of lockdowns in March, but business generally has flattened or tapered off since then.  

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