Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Markets drop in Asia on rising China-US tensions over virus

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares skidded in Asia today as investors eyed rising tensions between the Trump administration and China over the origins and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Asian trading today, the Kospi in South Korea dropped 2.6%. Shares also fell by more than 2% in Singapore, Taiwan and Jakarta. The Hang Seng also was down.

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The outlier was Australia, where the S&P ASX/200 gained 1.4%, rebounding from early losses on gains in miners and banks.

On Wall Street, S&P futures are down 0.6% and Dow futures are down lost 0.7%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 0.61%, well below its 1.90% level at the start of the year.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-TRUMP TOWN HALL

President Trump says vaccine by end of year

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says a vaccine for COVID-19 will be available by the end of the year.

Trump also says the U.S. government is putting its “full power and might” behind remdesivir (rehm-DEHZ’-ih-veer), a drug that has shown early promise as a treatment for the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Trump commented Sunday night during a televised town hall sponsored by Fox News Channel.

Trump sat inside the Lincoln Memorial and fielded questions from two Fox hosts, as well as from people who submitted questions over Fox’s social media platforms.

Trump responded to a Nebraska man who recovered from COVID-19 by saying: “We think we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this year.”

He also said his administration was pushing hard for remdesivir.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NURSING HOME OUTBREAK

Faced with 20,000 dead, care homes seek shield from lawsuits

NEW YORK (AP) — Faced with 20,000 coronavirus deaths, the nation’s nursing homes are pushing to get states to grant them emergency protection from lawsuits alleging inadequate care.

At least 15 states have enacted laws or governors’ orders that explicitly or apparently provide nursing homes and long-term care facilities some protection from lawsuits arising from the crisis. In New York, which leads the nation in deaths in such facilities, a lobbying group wrote the first draft of a measure that apparently makes it the only state with specific protection from both civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

Now the industry is forging ahead with a campaign to get other states on board with a simple argument: This was an unprecedented crisis and nursing homes should not be liable for events beyond their control, such as shortages of protective equipment and testing, shifting directives from authorities, and sicknesses that have decimated staffs.

Watchdogs and patient advocates argue that lawsuits are the only safety net to keep facilities accountable. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASIA

Asia Today: No new cases in N Zealand; Malaysia reopens some

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand reported no new cases of the coronavirus, marking a significant moment that indicated the country’s bold strategy of trying to eliminate the virus was working. It was the first time since the outbreak took hold in mid-March that the country has reported zero new cases. While the figures were clearly encouraging, it won’t be known until later this week if new cases continue to pop up in the community. New Zealand closed its borders and imposed a strict monthlong lockdown after the outbreak began. In other developments, many business sectors reopened in parts of Malaysia but there are worries about a second wave of infections.

In Malaysia, many business sectors reopened in parts of the country as the government sought to balance between curbing the virus and reviving the hard-hit economy. But the move has split public opinion amid fears that the sudden reopening of economic activities could spark a new wave of infection. Nine of the country’s 13 states, including the richest state Selangor, either refused to reopen or restricted the list of businesses that can operate. Mass gatherings and interstate travel remain banned. Virus cases have dropped sharply in recent weeks but a slight rise of 227 infections was reported over the weekend. Malaysia has confirmed 6,298 cases, with 105 deaths.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-RELIEF PAYMENTS

Millions will have to wait for relief checks

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of dollars in federal relief payments are flowing into taxpayers’ bank accounts via direct deposit. But Americans without bank accounts will have to wait weeks more to receive paper checks. Many of them are among the nation’s poorest families. Advocates for the poor say this is an opportunity to get so-called unbanked Americans into the formal financial system. Advocates are also concerned that when the checks do come there will be long lines at check-cashing businesses. Those lines could pose a risk to public health during the coronavirus pandemic.

To help smooth the delivery of the payments, the government launched an online portal for people to provide their banking information for direct deposit. But that system offered nothing to people without savings or checking accounts.

A House Ways and Means Committee memo obtained by The Associated Press estimates that about 5 million paper checks will be issued each week, meaning those most in need could wait many weeks for their payments.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AIR FRANCE

European Union approves 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) in loans and guarantees that French state is providing to Air France.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has approved 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) in loans and guarantees that the French state is providing to its airline Air France to weather the financial storm unleashed by the coronavirus.

EU Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager says the guarantees and loans “will provide Air France with the liquidity that it urgently needs to withstand the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.”

It was part of a deal by the French and Dutch governments announced April 24 of at least 9 billion euros ($9.7 billion) in bailout money to rescue both Air France and KLM, which are fighting for survival as most of their planes are grounded by virus lockdowns around the world.

Air France will get 3 billion euros in direct loans from the French state and a 4 billion euro bank loan guaranteed by the state, the airline said in a statement.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HAWAII ISOLATION

Hawaii, other islands tamp down virus

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii has some of the lowest coronavirus infection and mortality rates in the U.S.

As cases rose in March, the governor did something no other state can — effectively seal the borders. People who do come face a two-week quarantine.

That has cut off the flow of tens of thousands of tourists a day. But it has walloped an economy that relies on tourism, and officials say travel restrictions will be among the last to end.

Of the few places in the world with no confirmed infections, nearly all are islands in the Pacific.

The U.S. territory of American Samoa is the nation’s only jurisdiction with no cases to date.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HAWAII TOURISM

Isolated by oceans: Hawaii, other islands tamp down virus

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii has some of the lowest coronavirus infection and mortality rates in the U.S.

As cases rose in March, the governor did something no other state can — effectively seal the borders. People who do come face a two-week quarantine. That has cut off the flow of tens of thousands of tourists a day.

But it has walloped an economy that relies on tourism, and officials say travel restrictions will be among the last to end.

Of the few places in the world with no confirmed infections, nearly all are islands in the Pacific. The U.S. territory of American Samoa is the nation’s only jurisdiction with no cases to date.

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