Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares rise on hopes for drug to treat coronavirus

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares advanced today, riding a wave of optimism about a possible treatment for the coronavirus that set off a rally on Wall Street powerful enough to override data showing the U.S. economy had logged its worst quarterly performance since 2009.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 2.1% today, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 2.4% higher. The Shanghai Composite added 1.3%. Markets in South Korea and Hong Kong were closed for holidays.

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India’s Sensex gained 3%. Markets in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also advanced.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 vaulted 2.7% higher, extending a rally that’s brought the U.S. stock market to the brink of its best month in 45 years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.2% to 24,633.86, and the Nasdaq climbed 3.6% to 8,914.71.

CHINA MANUFACTURING

China’s manufacturing weaker in April as virus hurts exports

BEIJING (AP) — Two surveys show that China’s manufacturing activity weakened in April as the coronavirus pandemic clobbered global consumer demand, hampering Beijing’s efforts to revive the world’s second-largest economy.

China became the first major economy to reopen factories in March after the ruling Communist Party declared victory over the outbreak. But the United States, Europe and other major markets have yet to lift controls that are keeping consumers from spending.

A monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by business magazine Caixin slipped to 49.4 from March’s 50.1 on a 100-point scale on which scores below 50 indicate activity is contracting. A separate survey by the Chinese statistics bureau and an official industry group sank to 50.8 from the previous month’s 52.

The official survey’s sub-index for export orders plunged by 12.9 points to 33.5.

Both surveys show employment weakening.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-INDIA-MALARIA DRUG

Plan to use malaria drug in Mumbai slums temporarily shelved

NEW DELHI (AP) — Officials say a plan to give the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to thousands of people in Mumbai’s crowded slums to prevent coronavirus infections has temporarily been shelved.

Health officials in Mumbai say that a test to prove the efficacy of the much touted but largely untested drug is still in the cards, but that for now they would follow federal Indian guidelines.

India, which reached the grim milestone of more than 1,000 deaths from the virus today, is one of the few countries that has pushed for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a precautionary measure among high-risk groups such as health care workers or people who have come in close contact with COVID-19 patients.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-JAPAN

Many Japanese defy appeals to stay home to curb virus

TOKYO (AP) — Under Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency, people have been asked to stay home. Many are not. Some still commute to their jobs despite risks of infection, while others are dining out, picnicking in parks and crowding into grocery stores with scant regard for social distancing.

Nobody is breaking the law, and business almost as usual is the message they are getting from the government. The main message has been economy first, safety second.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has insisted Japan will not adopt European-style hard lockdowns that would paralyze the economy. His economy minister heads the government’s coronavirus task force meetings.

The government has rolled out an unprecedentedly huge economic package of 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) that includes loans for small businesses and other coronavirus measures.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EUROPE JOBLESS

Europe’s employment aid keeps jobs from vanishing — for now

PARIS (AP) — Thousands of European businesses are on life support due to coronavirus shutdowns.

But many are able to keep their employees on staff as they hope for things to pick up as the continent reopens. That’s because governments are paying them to keep their workers on board under temporary support programs.

France pays up to 84% of lost income for workers put on short hours or no hours. In Germany, it’s 60%.

The catch is, the business can’t fire the workers. The bosses benefit from flexibility and the chance to keep their trained staff.

For now it’s helping companies and the economy stay on their feet. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FUNERAL HOME

Police called after NYC funeral home puts bodies in trucks

NEW YORK (AP) — No criminal charges have been brought against a New York City funeral home that resorted to storing dozens of bodies on ice in rented trucks.

Police were called to the Brooklyn neighborhood Wednesday, after a passerby complained about the smell.

A law enforcement official says investigators found that the home had rented four trucks to hold about 50 corpses.

The Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home was cited for failing to control the odors and an official says the funeral home was able to obtain a larger, refrigerated truck later in the day.

With the death toll from the coronavirus, New York City funeral homes have been struggling since late March.

GOVERNOR’S-COMPANIES-LAWSUIT

W. Virginia gov’s coal companies to appeal lawsuit rulings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An appeal is planned in rulings against coal companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in a lawsuit that accused them of defaulting on a mining contract.

Attorney Richard Getty says the appeal on behalf of James C. Justice Cos. Inc. and subsidiary Kentucky Fuel Corp. will be filed with a federal appeals court in Cincinnati.

In September, a federal judge in Kentucky ordered the companies to pay $35 million to New London Tobacco Market and Five Mile Energy. The lawsuit accused the Justice companies of failing to pay mining royalty payments and retainer fees.

Last week, Justice’s companies also were ordered to pay more than $1 million in legal fees and expenses along with $10,000 in sanctions.  

SOUTH KOREA-FIRE

South Korea investigating cause of fire after 38 workers die

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean authorities are investigating what caused a fire that killed 38 construction workers in one of the country’s deadliest fires in years.

An explosion swept through a warehouse under construction just south of Seoul. A fire official says oil mist may have ignited and the sudden blast may have made it impossible for workers to escape.

A team of fire, police and other officials have entered the warehouse to examine exactly what triggered the blaze.

Police are separately investigating if the construction involved any violation of local building law.

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