Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks rally despite huge job losses

NEW YORK AP) — Wall Street is rallying again. The major stock indexes are up more than 1% in afternoon trading after the government said employers cut 20.5 million jobs last month. That’s a record, but it’s slightly less than markets had braced for. Investors are also increasingly betting they won’t see another report that bad again because the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits has been slowly declining the last five weeks.

Stocks around the world were already heading higher before the U.S. jobs report came out, in part on hopes that U.S. and China won’t restart their trade war. Gains accelerated following the report.

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ECONOMY-JOBS-REPORT

Jobless rate spikes to 14.7%, highest since Great Depression

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7% in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression, as 20.5 million jobs vanished in the worst monthly loss on record. The figures are stark evidence of the damage the coronavirus has done to a now-shattered economy. The losses reflect what has become a severe recession caused by sudden business shutdowns in nearly every industry. Almost all the job growth achieved during the 11-year recovery from the Great Recession has now been lost in one month.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONGRESS-LOCAL FUNDING

Dems eye money for smaller cities, towns in next virus bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Democrats are promising that smaller cities and towns won’t be left behind in the next coronavirus relief bill. A top Democrat says the bill will contain money for each county in the U.S., along with an equal amount of funding for municipalities. The expansion of federal assistance could cost hundreds of billions of dollars. An earlier, smaller installment of money to local governments was limited to cities with populations greater than 500,000. Republicans also broadly support the effort to disperse more federal aid across the country.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VULNERABLE WORKERS

Meet 8 people around the world hustling to survive pandemic

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — From India to Argentina, in refugee camps and capital cities, millions struggling to get by on the economic margins of societies have had their lives made even harder by pandemic lockdowns, layoffs and the loss of a chance to earn from a hard day’s work. The International Labor Organizations says that more than four out of five people in the global labor force of 3.3 billion have been affected by full or partial workplace closures. Moreover, about 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed.” 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HOME TESTS

US approves at home saliva-based virus test

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators approved the first saliva-based coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home. The new at-home option is expected to expand use of the test developed by Rutgers University, which the Food and Drug Administration first authorized last month. People can use the plastic tube at home to provide a saliva sample and ship it to a laboratory for processing. The test will be available through a New Jersey network of hospitals and testing sites affiliated with Rutgers. Wide-scale testing is considered essential to containing the spread of COVID-19 and safely reopening businesses and schools. But many states are still struggling to reach the testing levels recommended by health experts.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FAULTY MASKS

US pulls permission for Chinese masks found defective

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials have revoked permission for masks made by more than 60 Chinese manufacturers that failed to meet U.S. standards. The Food and Drug Administration warned this week that the faulty masks could endanger health care workers treating patients with COVID-19. Due to shortages of masks the FDA authorized imports based on testing data from the manufacturers. But U.S. officials reported Thursday that new testing in the U.S. showed dozens of the Chinese masks failed to filter particles at the level needed to adequately protect workers. The agency said only 14 masks met U.S. standards.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CUSTOMER TENSIONS

Store workers become enforcers of social distancing rules

NEW YORK (AP) — Store workers across the country are suddenly being asked to enforce the rules that govern shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. That means customer service employees often must confront shoppers who aren’t wearing masks, enforce social distancing measures like one-way aisles and limit the number of people allowed inside a store. It’s a tension-filled role for which most of them have received little or no training. The efforts sometimes provoke testy customers. The burden is sure to become greater as more businesses start to reopen in nearly a dozen states.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SWITZERLAND

Swiss plan to ask diners for contacts dropped over privacy

GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss government has backed down from plans to require restaurants and bars to take the names and phone numbers of their patrons as a way to fight the coronavirus, after the plan fell foul of privacy concerns. Restaurateurs across the country had been facing the requirement, starting Monday, to take down the names and numbers of their patrons as part of efforts to track contacts of coronavirus victims. But after privacy advocates, restaurant owners and legal experts all cried foul, government officials backed down on their plans, acknowledging that a legal basis didn’t exist for such a requirement. They now say leaving the information is optional but is recommended.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASIA

South Korea advises clubs to close, may delay schools

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea is advising nightclubs to close for a month and may delay the reopening of schools after linking more than a dozen new coronavirus infections to a club patron in the capital. Schools were supposed to begin reopening next week, but 25 new cases were reported Friday, South Korea’s first jump above 10 in five days. Health officials say investigations into the new cases would determine the next steps and urged vigilance to maintain hard-won gains against the virus. A man who visited three nightclubs on Saturday and 14 people he contacted have tested positive since Wednesday. The three clubs had more than 1,500 visitors combined on Saturday.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ANIMAL ORIGINS

UN: Live animal markets shouldn’t be closed despite virus

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization said that although a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan selling live animals likely played a significant role in the emergence of the new coronavirus, it does not recommend that such live markets be shut down globally. The U.N. health agency said investigations into the pandemic’s animal origins are continuing in China and that it could take considerable time before the species is identified. To date, China has not yet invited WHO or other external experts to be part of that investigation. WHO said having other experts involved can often help discussions, but that it isn’t always necessary.

CHINA-US-TRADE

US, China trade envoys promise ‘favorable conditions’

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese state news agency says U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators promised to create “favorable conditions” for carrying out a truce in their governments’ tariff war during a phone call. The call followed a threat by President Donald Trump to pull out of the agreement if Beijing fails to buy more American goods and services in exchange for Washington suspending planned tariff hikes. The coronavirus pandemic has depressed Chinese demand for imports.

The official Xinhua (shihn-wah) News Agency said the chief Chinese envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised to “create a favorable atmosphere and conditions” for implementing the “phase one” agreement signed in January.

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