Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks mixed after big Monday gain

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mixed on Wall Street Tuesday, a day after the market had its biggest jump in more than five weeks.

Technology stocks rose, offsetting losses in health care companies, banks and elsewhere in the market. Bond yields were mostly headed lower.

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Earnings reports from major retailers showed how differently those companies are faring during the coronavirus pandemic. Walmart rose after reporting a surge in sales as people stocked up on crucial supplies as they sheltered in place. But Kohl’s, whose stores are closed, swung to a $541 million loss as its revenue fell more than 40%.

HOME CONSTRUCTION

Home building plunges in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home building plunged again in April, taken down by economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that ground breakings plummeted 30.2% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000. Construction of single-family homes dropped 25.4% to an annual rate of 650,000.

The lockdowns and travel restrictions designed to contain the pandemic have brought economic life to a near standstill. The unemployment rate is 14.7%, highest since the Great Depression.

The construction slump is likely to continue. Building permits for new housing dropped 20.8% to an annual rate of 1.07 million.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-US-CANADA BORDER

US-Canada border to remain closed

TORONTO (AP) — Canada and the United States have extended their agreement to keep the border closed to non-essential travel to June 21 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the border is a source of vulnerability so the agreement will be extended by another 30 days. The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April.

Trudeau says Canada’s provincial leaders clearly wanted to continue the measures. Many Canadians fear a reopening. The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world, though its per-capita numbers are well below many other nations.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FED

Powell says lending programs will be up and running soon

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the central bank’s lending programs for medium-sized businesses and state and local governments will be operational by the end of this month.

Powell also said that the Fed is seeing a “good deal of interest” in those programs, but if not enough companies or state and local governments try to borrow, the Fed will tweak its efforts.

Powell’s comments came before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which held an oversight hearing regarding the $2 trillion federal relief package approved in late March. 

VENEZUELA-AT&T

AT&T quits Venezuela as US sanctions force it to defy Maduro

MIAMI (AP) — AT&T has decided to immediately abandon Venezuela’s pay TV market as U.S. sanctions prohibit its DirecTV platform from broadcasting channels that it is required to carry by the socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro.

The Dallas-based company said Tuesday its decision is effective immediately.

AT&T is the largest player in Venezuela’s pay TV market and was one of the last major American companies still operating in the crisis-wracked country. But it has come under pressure for abiding by Maduro regulators’ orders to remove some 10 channels such as CNN en Español that have broadcast anti-government protests and critical coverage of the country amid the past year’s turmoil.

BRITAIN-UNEMPLOYMENT

UK jobless claims surge by record amount

LONDON (AP) — Unemployment claims in Britain jumped by a record amount in April to their highest level since the 1990s.

The new data released Tuesday underscores the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the economy despite programs being put into place to keep workers on payrolls.

Jobless claims surged by 856,000 in April to 2.1 million, the highest since 1996 and an increase of 69% from the month before.

As bad as it was, economists suggest it could have been much worse. The government created a job retention program to prevent millions of people from being laid off by effectively putting them on the government payroll.

FRANCE-AMAZON

France: Amazon back in business after virus deal with unions

PARIS (AP) — Amazon is gradually reopening its warehouses in France after consulting with unions on new virus safety measures.

Weeks of legal troubles that had sharply curtailed Amazon’s French business. In a big victory for labor unions, French courts ruled last month that Amazon hadn’t done enough to protect its workers from the coronavirus. The company shut its French warehouses as a result – just as demand soared because stores were shuttered by virus restrictions.

After protracted negotiations, Amazon started a three-week reopening process Tuesday. Amazon is starting by holding training sessions for staff on the virus protection measures.

EARNS-WALMART

Walmart sales surged

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart became a lifeline to millions of people as the coronavirus spread. Its profit and sales surged during the fiscal first quarter, topping expectations.

Online sales jumped 74%, fueled by a rush on canned foods, paper towels and other supplies as people sheltered in place.

The company said Tuesday that same-store sales at its U.S. namesake stores surged, but so did costs.

Walmart spent $900 million in additional compensation for workers who manned checkout lines and kept goods flowing at warehouses.

The company pulled its guidance for the year, citing the chaos of the pandemic. 

HOME DEPOT-RESULTS

Virus drags on profits for Home Depot

ATLANTA (AP) — The cost of the spreading coronavirus pandemic dragged on profits early in the year at Home Depot.

The world’s biggest home improvement chain upped compensation for employees, extended dependent care benefits and waived related co-pays. That set Home Depot back by $850 million in pre-tax expenses, or about 60 cents per share.

The cost of sales rose 7.3% in the quarter, which surged 7.1% as homeowners rushed to pick up essential supplies.

But on Tuesday, Home Depot pulled its financial guidance for the year with so much still unknown about the spread and duration of the virus, or its impact on spending. 

GOOGLE-OIL EXTRACTION

Google won’t build AI tools for oil and gas

UNDATED (AP) — Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, separating itself from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon.

The announcement followed a Greenpeace report Tuesday that documents how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies find and access oil and gas deposits in the U.S. and around the world.

The environmentalist group says Amazon, Microsoft and Google have been undermining their own climate change pledges by partnering with major oil companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil that have looked for new technology to get more oil and gas out of the ground. But the group applauded Google on Tuesday for taking a step away from those deals. 

BRITAIN-EASYJET HACK

EasyJet says hackers accessed travel details of millions

LONDON (AP) — U.K.-based budget airline easyJet says that “highly sophisticated” hackers have accessed the email address and travel details of approximately 9 million customers. It also said Tuesday that its “forensic” investigation found that the credit card details of 2,208 people were accessed.

It added that all affected customers will be contacted in the next few days and that there was “no evidence that any personal information of any nature has been misused.”

Chief Executive Johan Lundgren apologized to those customers affected said every business must continue to “stay agile to stay ahead of the threat.” He said that owing to COVID-19 there is heightened concern about personal data being used for online scams.”

SOCIAL DISTANCING TABLES

‘Bumper tables’ designed to help socially-distant diners

OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) — Diners in a Maryland beach town are bouncing back into eating out with a little help from inflatable inner tubes on wheels.

The Baltimore-based company Revolution Event Design & Production rolled out “bumper tables” that allow people to keep 6 feet from each other while eating and talking in social settings amid the coronavirus pandemic. News outlets report the inflated tube tables debuted at Fish Tales in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday.

The devices feature a hole in the middle for participants and wheels attached to the bottom for moving around. The company’s CEO says the tables are a fun way to maintain distance and still enjoy social settings.

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