Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Worldwide stock rally accelerates on hopes for virus peak

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are jumping after some of the world’s hardest-hit areas offered sparks of hope that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak may be on the horizon.

The Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were all up around 5.5% in afternoon trading.

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European and Asian markets had gains nearly as big.

In another sign that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy’s path, the 10-year Treasury yield was headed for its first gain in four days.

Oil fell further after a meeting between big producers about possibly cutting back on production was postponed a few days. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BUSINESS FALLOUT

Nations flood economies with aid; airlines retreat from NYC

UNDATED (AP)— Central banks and governments continue to buy time, flooding their economies with trillions in aid.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh AH’-bay) is preparing to announce a $1 trillion economic package as early as tomorrow, while Germany is trying to ease the flow of financial aid to small and medium-size companies. Germany’s finance minister says companies that were in good health last year can apply for loans totaling as much as three months of revenue.

The White House is considering coronavirus “war bonds” to fund the federal response to the pandemic. National economic council director Larry Kudlow says the federal government, like most Americans, should make the most of low interest rates.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ANTIVIRAL DRUG

Coronavirus patients rush to join studies of Gilead drug

UNDATED (AP) — Coronavirus patients around the world are rushing to join studies of an experimental drug that showed promise against some similar viruses in the past.

Interest in the drug remdesivir has been so great that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is boosting the size of its study, which has nearly reached its initial goal just a few weeks after starting.

Drugmaker Gilead Sciences is quickly enrolling patients in its own studies, too.

The drug is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.

Results from the first tests of it in China are expected later this month.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VACCINE STUDY

US company poised to start COVID-19 vaccine safety test

UNDATED (AP) — A second U.S. company is poised to begin a small safety test of a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals says it has Food and Drug Administration permission for the study in 40 healthy volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri.

Last month, another vaccine candidate became the first to begin safety studies in people in Seattle.

The study is a first step to see if the vaccine appears safe enough for larger tests needed to prove whether it will protect. Even if the research goes well, it is expected to take over a year before any vaccine could be widely available.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ANTI-MALARIAL

Trump adviser promotes use of drug for virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s trade adviser says he had a heated debate with the nation’s top infectious disease expert over the use of an anti-malaria drug that has not yet officially been approved for fighting COVID-19.

Peter Navarro is emphatically promoting use of the drug hydroxychloroquine even though scientists say more testing is needed before it’s clear it’s safe and effective against the virus. Navarro is on the White House coronavirus task force.

Small, preliminary studies have suggested hydroxychloroquine might help prevent coronavirus from entering cells and possibly help patients clear the virus sooner. Dr. Anthony Fauci (FOW’-chee), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says current studies provide only anecdotal findings that the drug works.

The drug is officially approved for treating malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, but not COVID-19. Still, doctors can already prescribe the hydroxychloroquine to patients with COVID-19, a practice known as off-label prescribing.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EUROPE’S ECONOMY

Cracks in Europe’s shared currency reappear in virus crisis

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The virus outbreak is exposing longstanding cracks in the euro, Europe’s two-decade old project to share a currency.  

Italy, France and other countries are pushing for shared bonds where everyone would carry the cost of borrowing together. The governments need the money because of the deep recession caused by the virus outbreak.  

Collective borrowing would mean that no one country could fall so easily into another debt crisis — like the one that plagued the euro currency union a decade ago.

Yet there’s no agreement ahead of a key meeting Tuesday of finance officials. Member governments appear ready to take action worth a half-trillion euros. The question is, will that be enough, and will countries be left with heavy debts in years to come. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EXIT STRATEGY

Austrian, Czech officials plan to ease some virus measures

BERLIN (AP) — Austria and the Czech Republic are planning to relax some restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus starting after Easter.

The Austrian government said it aims to allow small shops, DIY stores and garden centers to reopen on April 14. The number of people permitted inside will be limited, and all will have to wear face masks.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz cautioned that authorities could activate an “emergency brake” if infections accelerate again.

In the Czech Republic, the health minister says the government will discuss this week whether to let more small stores reopen. The country’s interior minister also is proposing to scrap a ban on Czechs traveling abroad starting a week from Tuesday. 

THEME PARKS-CHANGES

SeaWorld CEO resigns five months into job, cites board

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — SeaWorld Entertainment’s chief executive has resigned only five months into his job.

A Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Sergio Rivera cited his disagreement with the board’s involvement in decision-making at the company. His predecessor, Gustavo “Gus” Antorcha, cited a similar reason for his leaving last September.

Rivera becomes the third leader of the theme park company to depart in just over two years.

The spreading novel coronavirus has paralyzed the theme park industry and SeaWorld has furloughed 90% of its workers.

DEAN FOODS BANKRUPTCY

Court approves Dean Foods asset sale

NEW YORK (AP) — A bankruptcy court has approved the asset sale of one of the U.S.’s biggest dairy companies, Dean Foods.

Dean Foods Co. got the go-ahead to sell $433 million worth of properties and interests to the Dairy Farmers of America. Dean filed for bankruptcy protection in November of last year.

Another major milk producer, Borden Dairy Co., filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

The dairy industry has been struggling for decades as consumers increasingly shun milk for juice, soda and an array of non-dairy milk substitutes made from soy, almonds or oats. Since 1975, the amount of liquid milk consumed per capita in the U.S. has tumbled more than 40%.

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