Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher on recovery hopes
BEIJING (AP) —Asian stock markets and U.S. futures rose today as investors looked past dismal American jobs and other data toward hopes for a global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Today Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 1% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 1.4%. Shanghai was off 0.1% and the Kospi in Seoul was off 0.4% while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 1.4%. India’s Sensex opened up 0.7% and New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta also advanced.
On Friday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 Index rose 1.7% to 2,929.80 for its fourth gain in five days. The Dow added 1.9% to 24,331.32. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.6% to 9,121.32.
Trump advisers cite need to stop ‘permanent’ economic toll
WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers are stressing the importance of states getting more businesses and offices to open during the pandemic. Their pitch comes as the coronavirus makes its way to the White House complex, where at least three members of the administration’s task force are now in self-quarantine.
The president and governors are facing competing pressure points. More economic activity and travel will likely lead to more people contracting COVID-19. But tight restrictions on which businesses can operate are causing millions of people to join the ranks of the unemployed.
Another 3.2 million U.S. workers applied for jobless benefits last week, bringing the total over the last seven weeks to 33.5 million. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) said the jobless numbers “are probably going to get worse before they get better,” but he expected the economic numbers to improve in the second half of 2020 and that next year would be a “great year.”
Becoming ‘King of Ventilators’ may result in unexpected glut
WASHINGTON (AP) — In late March, President Trump pledged 100,000 new ventilators in 100 days to address a shortage during the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, his administration has spent nearly $3 billion to spur U.S. manufacturers to crank them out at an unprecedented pace. An Associated Press analysis shows that the federal government is expected to take delivery of nearly 200,000 new ventilators by the end of 2020.
But over the past month, demand for ventilators has decreased even as the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus has surged past 80,000. After observing unusually high death rates for coronavirus victims who were put on ventilators, many doctors are using them only as a last resort.
That’s raising the unexpected prospect that the United States could soon be awash in surplus ventilators, so much so the White House is now planning to ship thousands overseas to help boost the virus response of other nations.
Semiconductor companies consider new plants in the U.S.
NEW YORK (AP0 — Intel and a Taiwanese company are talking to the Trump administration about building new semiconductor plants in the United States amid concern about relying on suppliers in Asia for chips used in a wide variety of electronics.
Intel CEO Bob Swan says strengthening U.S. chip production is more important than ever, given the uncertainty created by the current geopolitical environment. The discussions were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which said TSMC is also talking with Apple Inc., one of its biggest customers, about building a plant in the U.S.
The U.S. gets many semiconductors from factories in Taiwan, South Korea and China.
The Pentagon and the Government Accountability Office issued reports on the matter last year. The GAO said in a report last September that when U.S. companies shift operations overseas it can mean lower prices for components and technology used in weapons systems. However, having global sources can also make it harder for the Pentagon to get what it needs if, for example, other countries cut off U.S. access to critical supplies.
CHINA INVESTMENT IN US
Chinese investment in US drops to lowest level since 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — China’s direct investments in the United States fell last year to the lowest level since the Great Recession — even before the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of global commerce.
The drop reflects tensions between the world’s two biggest economies and Chinese government restrictions on overseas investment.
A report out today found that China’s direct investment in the United States dropped from $5.4 billion in 2018 to $5 billion last year, the lowest level since the recession year of 2009.
U.S. investment in China blipped up last year — to $14 billion from $13 billion in 2018.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND
Shanghai Disneyland reopens
SHANGHAI (AP) — Visitors wearing face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland today as China’s most prominent theme park reopened in a new step toward rolling back anti-coronavirus controls that shut down its economy.
The park, which closed Jan. 25, will limit visitors and is keeping some attractions closed in line with social distancing guidelines. Disney guests, many wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and children dressed as movie characters, were checked for fevers at the gate, and decals were used to designate a safe distance between visitors.
China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first economy to shut down and the first to reopen in early March. Factories and shops have reopened but cinemas, karaoke parlors, gyms and other businesses remain closed.
BOGATA, Colombia (AP) — One of Latin America’s largest airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated its business. Avianca Holdings said in a statement that the move is aimed at continuing operations and preserving jobs when they can resume normal operations following a global health emergency that has grounded 90% of global air traffic.
Avianca said its own consolidated revenues had been slashed by 80% as it faces the most challenging crisis of their 100-year history as a company. The airline said it is in conversations about assistance with governments in countries where it operates, particularly Colombia, its home base.
The airline says it carries 30 million passengers a year and is directly or indirectly responsible for 21,000 jobs in Latin America, including 14,000 in Colombia.
Saudi Arabia triples taxes, cuts $26B in costs amid pandemic
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia has tripled taxes on basic goods, raising them to 15%, and has announced spending cuts of around $26 billion as it grapples with blows from the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices on its economy.
Saudi citizens will also lose a bonus cost-of-living allowance as part of the cuts. That’s according to the country’s finance minister who made the announcement today.
Despite efforts to diversify the economy, the kingdom still heavily relies on oil for revenue, which plunged in price this year as Brent crude now hovers around $30 a barrel.
TOKYO SOUVENIRS-NO CUSTOMERS
Long wait for Tokyo 2020 Olympic souvenir market to pick up
TOKYO (AP) — Official Tokyo Olympic souvenir shops are drawing few customers these days.
The pandemic and the fact the Olympics have been postponed for a year has wiped out almost all business. It’s a worrying situation for local organizers who hope to generate $100 million from the sale of official products.
The uncertainty of the postponed games actually taking place in a year has also dampened sales. Even if the Olympics take place, it may be without fans.
There are about 90 stores open across Japan selling 5,500 products. They sell the usual merchandise like t-shirts and caps that carry the Olympic logo.
There are also Olympic chopsticks for sale. Merchandise is also sold online.