The S&P 500 was virtually flat, as of 11:05 a.m. Eastern time, after swinging between an earlier gain of 0.5% and loss of 0.4%. Most stocks in the index were down.
Consumer prices fall by most since ‘08
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices fell 0.8% in April, the biggest decline since the 2008 financial crisis, with the declines led by a huge drop in gasoline prices and in sectors most affected by the coronavirus shutdowns.
The Labor Department reported that core prices, which exclude food and energy, fell 0.4% last month, the largest monthly decline in core prices on records that go back to 1957. The 0.8% drop in overall prices followed a 0.4% drop in March.
Gasoline prices were down 20.6% in April and contributed the most to the downward pressure on inflation. Apparel prices, airline fares and hotel and motel room charges all fell sharply.
Pelosi unveils $3T coronavirus aid package for Friday vote
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has unveiled a more than $3 trillion new coronavirus aid package. It would provide nearly $1 trillion for states, cities and tribal governments to avert layoffs and another $200 billion in “hazard pay” for essential workers.
It would offer $1,200 in direct cash aid to individuals, up to $6,000 per household. There would be $75 billion more for virus testing.
A House vote is expected Friday.
But the Senate’s Republican leader is cautioning his colleagues not to go so fast. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there is no “urgency” to act immediately.
Fauci talks of vaccine prospects
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci says the government is working on several potential vaccines for COVID-19.
“We have many candidates and hope to have many winners,” he told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee. “In other words, it is many shots on goal.”
Despite the rapid pace of work on vaccines, Fauci was offering no guarantees. He says, “The big unknown is efficacy.”
Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is the government’s leading expert on the pandemic. He says he hopes to have a vaccine in advanced trials by late fall or early winter.
Elon Musk becomes champion of defying virus stay-home orders
UNDATED (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk has emerged as a champion of defying stay-home orders intended to stop the coronavirus from spreading, picking up support as well as critics on social media.
Among supporters was President Donald Trump, who on Tuesday tweeted that Tesla’s San Francisco Bay Area factory should be allowed to open despite health department orders to stay closed except for basic operations. Trump wrote that the plant can be reopened safely, joining many of Musk’s 34 million Twitter followers who back the defiance.
Tesla’s factory reopened Monday with Musk daring local authorities to arrest him. The plant apparently continued operations on Tuesday, and it wasn’t clear whether Tesla met a 5 p.m. PDT deadline to submit a plan to protect workers.
Trump: Fed retiree fund should ban Chinese investments
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has directed the U.S. federal employee retirement fund to scrap its plan to place more than $4 billion into Chinese investments.
The move comes as the president blames Beijing almost daily for not doing more to stop COVID-19 from spreading around the world.
National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow and the president’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien wrote a letter Monday to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia calling on the retirement fund’s board to keep money out of Chinese equities. The letter says such investments help China bolster its military and oppress religious minorities living in the country.
Seattle area health care system in big financial hole
SEATTLE (AP) — UW Medicine, the Seattle-area health care system which has played a leading role in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, is now facing a huge financial hole because of the fallout from COVID-19.
The Seattle Times reports UW Medicine’s losses could be more than $500 million by the end of summer. That’s according to an email Monday from UW Medicine CEO Dr. Paul Ramsey that was obtained by the newspaper. Ramsey wrote that staff cuts, furloughs, hiring restrictions and a pay cut for senior leadership could all be implemented.
UW Medicine’s total budget for fiscal year 2020 was $5.8 billion. In early March, UW Medicine was among the first in the state to set up drive-thru sites to test its employees and patients, as well as University of Washington students who were showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Researchers at UW Medicine are also working on a variety of potential treatments and vaccinations for the virus.
Ryanair plans to begin operating 1,000 daily flights
LONDON (AP) — Budget airline Ryanair will begin operating nearly 1,000 daily flights starting in July — assuming government restrictions on flights within Europe are lifted after the shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The carrier says it will restore 90% of its pre-COVID-19 route network, though with less frequency.
The airline has been operating with a skeleton schedule since mid-March, with some 30 flights daily between Ireland, the UK and Europe.
The strategy is not without risk. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned Tuesday that people were unlikely to be able to go on foreign holidays this summer. Asked whether “summer was cancelled,” Mr Hancock told ITV: “I think that’s likely to be the case.”
Brussels Airlines plans to cut a quarter of its staff
BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium’s Brussels Airlines wants to reduce its workforce of 4,000 people by a quarter to weather the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
The plan by the Lufthansa subsidiary has enraged politicians across the spectrum. Like most airlines, the company has suspended its flights as a result of the pandemic. The carrier also plans to reduce its fleet from 54 to 38 aircraft as part of the restructuring.
Some politicians criticized the airline for seeking rescue loans while also firing workers. Brussels Airlines does not expect a return to normal before 2023.
Boeing goes another month without an order
UNDATED (AP) — Boeing did not sell a single passenger airplane last month, as the virus pandemic undercuts air travel and demand for new jets.
What’s worse for Boeing is that customers canceled orders for 108 planes in April.
It was the second time in the first four months of 2020 that Boeing failed to sell a single airliner. Boeing delivered just six passenger planes to buyers in April, bringing its 2020 total to 56 deliveries.
The slow pace of deliveries hurts Boeing’s cash generation because airlines pay a chunk of the plane’s price upon delivery. Boeing CEO sees no swift recovery in travel.
China suspends penalties on more US goods in trade truce
BEIJING (AP) — China has suspended punitive tariffs on more U.S. goods including radar equipment for aviation amid pressure from President Donald Trump to buy more imports as part of a truce in their trade war.
The Ministry of Finance said tariff increases on 79 types of goods including radar sets, disinfectant and rare earths minerals would be suspended for one year starting May 19.
Washington agreed in January to cancel additional tariff hikes and Beijing committed to buy more American farm exports.
U.S. officials said China agreed to address complaints about its technology policies. Trump threatened May 3 to terminate the agreement if China fails to buy more American goods.