Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks gain after France, Spain unveil reopening plans

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets gained today after France and Spain joined governments that plan to ease anti-virus controls and allow businesses to reopen.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.1% The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.8%. The ASX-S&P 200 in Sydney gained 1.1% while India’s Sensex opened up 1.1%. Singapore was 0.3% higher and Jakarta gained 0.4%. New Zealand shed 0.9%.

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Yesterday on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 Index lost 0.5% to 2,863.39. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1% to 24,101.55. The Nasdaq, which is dominated by big tech stocks, fell 1.4% to 8,607.73.

ECONOMY-GDP

GDP report to show a damaged economy sliding into recession

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy began 2020 riding the crest of a record-long expansion with every expectation that its 11th year of growth would not be its last.

Then the economy screeched to a sudden halt. And now it’s in free-fall.

Today, the government will offer a glimpse of how dark the picture has grown and how much worse it could get as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts ruinous damage.

The Commerce Department is expected to estimate that the gross domestic product sank at an annual rate of 5% or more in the January-March quarter. And yet forecasters say that will be only a precursor of a far grimmer GDP report to come on the current quarter. 

FEDERAL RESERVE

Federal Reserve likely to pledge support for ailing economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the U.S. economy gripped by its worst crisis since the 1930s, Federal Reserve policymakers are expected to offer sweeping assurances today that they will act as needed to help prevent the damage from growing even worse.

Yet the Fed is unlikely to unveil any new emergency programs.

Fed officials have already taken a range of extraordinary actions that have propelled them into new corners of the economy and elevated their bond-buying to new heights.

Chairman Jerome Powell will hold his usual news conference — this time virtually, rather than on site — after the Fed issues its latest policy statement.

ALPHBET-RESULTS

Google’s growth slows as pandemic infests advertising market

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Google reported its weakest revenue growth in nearly five years as the pandemic-driven recession began to shrivel its advertising sales in the first quarter.

The results provide the first window into how the digital ad market has fared amid widespread orders requiring consumers to stay at home. Those restrictions have given most advertisers little incentive to market their products and services.

First-quarter revenue at Google’s corporate parent rose 13% from the same time last year to $41.2 billion. That is the company’s smallest gain since the summer of 2015. It’s an incomplete picture because ad demand wasn’t hit hard until late February and early March.

RESULTS-FORD

Ford burns up billions of dollars in 1Q, posts $2B net loss

DETROIT (AP) — Ford posted a $2 billion net loss in the first quarter that it blames largely on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The automaker says its revenue from January through March fell nearly 15% to $34.3 billion as most of its factories were shut down for the final week of the quarter.

Excluding one-time items, the company lost 23 cents per share.

RESULTS-STARBUCKS

Starbucks sales tumble as global shutdowns hit its stores

SEATTLE (AP) — Starbucks says its global sales plunged in the first three months of the year as coronavirus-related shutdowns crippled its global operations.

The Seattle-based coffee giant says 98% of its stores in China have reopened, but many are operating with reduced hours and seating. In the U.S., the company has temporarily closed half of its 8,000 company-owned stores.

The company says sales at its established stores fell 10% in the January-March period.

It expects conditions to worsen in its fiscal third quarter before moderating later this year. It says it is withdrawing most 2020 financial guidance as a result.

OIL PRICES

With rock-bottom prices, will the oil industry recover?

NEW YORK (AP) — With a barrel of crude oil costing less than a New York pizza, many U.S. shale producers are being pushed to the brink of bankruptcy and experts are wondering when, and if, the oil industry will recover.

The price of benchmark U.S. crude oil closed at $12.34 a barrel Tuesday.

As the downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak wears on, oil producers are dramatically curtailing their plans to drill for new oil and some are shutting in wells that were already producing. Experts say smaller producers will likely be bought by larger companies that are better equipped to weather the storm.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-TRUMP-MEAT

Trump orders meat processing plants to remain open

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has ordered meat processing plants to remain open amid concerns over growing coronavirus cases and the impact on the nation’s food supply.

An executive order signed Tuesday by the president uses the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure to keep plants open and prevent a shortage of chicken, pork and other meat on supermarket shelves.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union says 20 food-processing and meatpacking union workers in the U.S. have died of the virus. And they say the country can’t have a secure food supply unless workers are kept safe.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-SMALL-BUSINESS-RELIEF-DELAYS

Gov’t OKs $50B in small biz loans, banks complain of snags

NEW YORK (AP) — The government says it has approved an additional $50 billion in loans to small businesses, although banks are complaining that a bottleneck at the Small Business Administration is severely slowing the process.

Banking industry groups say the SBA’s loan processing system is still unable to handle the volume of loan applications from business owners trying to get aid under the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the government’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid program.

In a memo, the SBA said it intentionally slowed down the process to make it more reliable. But some banks said they were not able to get any applications into the system.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-WASHINGTON

Trump says US closer to testing international air travelers

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says his administration is considering requiring travelers on certain international flights to undergo temperature and virus checks.

Trump says it hasn’t been determined yet whether the federal governor or the airlines would conduct the testing, and “Maybe it’s a combination of both.”

Trump’s comments Tuesday came during a White House event touting the Paycheck Program, a loan program designed to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump said the Small Business Administration has processed more loans in 14 days than it has in the previous 14 years.

US-CORONAVIRUS-RELIEF-IMMIGRANTS

Lawsuit: US citizens with immigrant spouses should get help

PHOENIX (AP) — The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is suing the federal government over its denial of federal coronavirus relief payments to U.S. citizens who are married to immigrants without social security numbers.

The lawsuit was filed in Maryland on Tuesday on behalf of six American citizens who were denied coronavirus relief checks because they filed and paid taxes with a spouse who has what’s known as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or a way for immigrants without legal status to still pay federal taxes, which millions do.

Americans married to immigrants say they’ve been unfairly targeted.

US-TRIBES-CORONAVIRUS-RELIEF-FUNDING

Tribes urge Treasury to disburse coronavirus relief funding

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribal nations are urging the federal government to quickly disburse coronavirus relief funding after a judge handed them an early victory in a legal battle involving the money.

At least 18 tribes sued the federal government seeking to keep any portion of the $8 billion in funding allocated to tribes out of the hands of Alaska Native corporations.

A judge in Washington D.C. issued a ruling late Monday to temporarily halt any payments to the corporations while he settles the larger question of eligibility.

The decision clears the U.S. Treasury Department to begin distributing money to 574 federally recognized tribes. An attorney for the agency declined comment.

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