Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Wall Street drifts, Treasury yields fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is flipping between small gains and losses as rising coronavirus infection levels clash with hopes for a coming economic recovery. Treasury yields slipped in a sign of increased caution.

Losses were sharper across European markets and milder in Asia.

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Markets have slowed following a tremendous, nearly 40% rally for U.S. stocks that began in late March. Discouraging numbers on coronavirus infections have dented optimism that the economy can pull out of its recession quickly. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

1.5 million more laid-off workers seek unemployment benefits

WASHINGTON (AP) — About 1.5 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a historically high number, even as the economy increasingly reopens and employers bring some people back to work. The latest figure from the Labor Department marks the 11th straight weekly decline in applications since they peaked at nearly 7 million in March as the coronavirus shut down much of the economy and caused tens of millions of layoffs. The decline was much smaller than in recent weeks, falling just 58,000.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-DELTA AIRLINES

Delta says 40,000 employees agree to take unpaid leave

UNDATED (AP) — Delta Air Lines says more than 40,000 of its 91,000 employees have agreed to take unpaid leave of up to a year. Delta says the leaves, along with a “moderate” increase in ticket sales, will help the airline cut its cash burn rate to $30 million a day by the end of this month. That is $10 million a day less than Delta forecast a week ago. Delta has raised more than $14 billion in financing and expects to have $10 billion in available funds by year end. U.S. airlines face layoffs when federal payroll aid runs out in October unless air travel rebounds.

MORTGAGE RATES

US mortgage rates fall; 30-year at all-time low of 3.13%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year home loan reaching a new all-time low. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the key 30-year loan declined to 3.13% from 3.21% last week. It was the lowest level since Freddie began tracking average rates in 1971. A year ago, the rate stood at 3.84. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 2.58% from 2.62%.

SUPREME COURT-IMMIGRATION

Court rejects Trump bid to end young immigrants’ protections

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections for 650,000 young immigrants, a stunning rebuke to the president in the midst of his reelection campaign. For now, those immigrants retain their protection from deportation and their authorization to work in the United States. The outcome seems certain to elevate the issue in Trump’s campaign for reelection, given the anti-immigrant rhetoric of his first presidential run in 2016 and immigration restrictions his administration has imposed since then. It’s Trump’s second rebuke from the court in a week after Monday’s ruling that it’s illegal to fire people because they’re gay or transgender.

DRINKING WATER CONTAMINATION

EPA drops regulation for contaminant harming babies’ brains

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has ended an Obama-era drive to regulate a widespread contaminant in drinking water that’s been linked to brain damage in infants. The decision by Administrator Andrew Wheeler rejects warnings from pediatric groups and others that the move will mean significantly lower IQs for an unknown number of American babies. The contaminant is perchlorate. It’s a component in rocket fuel and ammunition. The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it intended to introduce federal regulation of percholate. Wheeler says no federal regulation is necessary. He says that’s partly because some states and public water systems have taken steps to deal with the contaminant.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ANTIBODY TESTS

Test maker targeted by FDA says it responded to US concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) — A company targeted by the Food and Drug Administration for selling unauthorized coronavirus antibody tests says it has responded to U.S. regulators’ concerns. The FDA announced Wednesday it sent warning letters to three companies selling at-home blood tests, none of which have been reviewed or authorized by the agency. Hong Kong-based Medakit Ltd. said it mostly operates in Europe and has no business presence in the U.S. The company said it took several steps to address FDA’s concerns, including blocking online purchases from the U.S. and adding a disclaimer that its products don’t have FDA approval or review.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FLORIDA

Florida has highest daily number of new cases

UNDATED (AP) — Florida has shattered its previous record for the number of coronavirus cases recorded in a day. The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported 85,926 coronavirus cases statewide, a daily jump of 3,207 cases, the largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic in March. The previous record — 2,783 cases — occurred Tuesday. The state has had at least 3,061 related deaths. At least some of the increase reflects expanded testing, especially among people who are younger and without symptoms. But the rate of positive tests also has been ticking upward in recent days, raising alarm.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW YORK

NYC restaurants can open with outdoor seating on Monday

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says restaurants will be allowed to open with outdoor seating on Monday as the city enters the second phase of easing coronavirus restrictions. De Blasio said Thursday that the outdoor seating plan will provide a lifeline for New York’s crucial restaurant industry. He said that for New Yorkers, restaurants are “part of our identity.”

The rest of New York state is farther along in the reopening process than New York City, which was the epicenter of the virus in the United States starting in March. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is able to reopen because New Yorkers followed the rules.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-RESTAURANTS EVOLVE

Restaurants find ways to evolve amid virus

UNDATED (AP) — The virus pandemic has decimated the restaurant industry, leaving millions unemployed and shuttering countless spots for good. Many dine-in restaurants have turned to delivery or takeout. Some have become food banks or trading posts.

Those restaurants that survived with takeout during the initial days of COVID-19 are now gradually opening their doors to welcome patrons to a very different dining experience. In California, the public health department mandates that bar areas be closed, menus be disposable and waiters not pour water tableside. Patrons must wear masks to the bathroom and salt and pepper shakers may not be left on the tables.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-GERMANY

Official: German slaughterhouse virus outbreak untenable

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s agriculture minister says that conditions at a slaughterhouse where hundreds of workers tested positive for COVID-19 were untenable and backed an official investigation into the outbreak. Authorities in the western region of Guetersloh said Wednesday that at least 657 people at an abattoir had tested positive for the virus. The NGG union that represents workers in the food and drinks industry said workers employed by sub-contractors face “catastrophic working and living conditions.” The agriculture minister said Thursday: “Hundreds of infections in one plant. These conditions aren’t tenable.”

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CANADA-TRACING

Canada to introduce virus tracing app in July

TORONTO (AP) — Canada is introducing a contact tracing smartphone app that will notify Canadians of exposure to the new coronavirus. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the app will be voluntary and that if someone tests positive, other users who have the app and have been in proximity will then be alerted they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive.  Trudeau says privacy will be respected. Governments around the world have been turning to smartphone technology to help battle fresh virus flare-ups as they ease lockdown restrictions. But technical problems and privacy concerns have dogged the development of virus tracing apps.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BRITAIN-TRACING APP

Britain scraps virus tracing app for Google-Apple system

LONDON (AP) — Britain is scrapping plans to launch its own coronavirus contact tracing smartphone app because of technical problems and will now work on building one using technology supplied by Apple and Google. The government’s app had been undergoing trials on the Isle of Wight, and was expected to be rolled out to the rest of the country later. But officials overseeing the app’s development said they couldn’t overcome a number of technical challenges they found during field tests with the app. Governments around the world have been turning to smartphone technology to help battle fresh virus flare-ups as they ease lockdown restrictions.

AMERICA PROTESTS-AUTOMAKERS

Automakers to mark Juneteenth, Floyd’s death

UNDATED (AP) — Assembly lines at factories run by Detroit automakers will come to a halt Friday to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. and to support protests after the death of George Floyd.

Work will halt at Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler factories for nearly nine minutes at 8:46 a.m. and p.m. in demonstrations organized by the United Auto Workers union. Floyd, who is black, died May 25 pleading for air as a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck for nearly eight minutes.

AMERICA PROTESTS-SEATTLE

Seattle police union expelled from large labor group

SEATTLE (AP) — The largest labor group in the Seattle area has expelled the city’s police union, saying the guild representing officers failed to address racism within its ranks. The vote Wednesday night by the King County Labor Council to exclude the Seattle Police Officers Guild comes after weeks of protests in the city over police brutality and racism following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It’s also significant as the labor council is politically influential. Local elected leaders are reluctant to go against the umbrella group of more than 150 unions and 100,00 workers.

BRANDS-REEVALUATING RACE

Cream of Wheat, Mrs. Butterworth confront race in packaging

UNDATED (AP) — Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth are the latest brands reckoning with racially charged logos. New Jersey-based B&G Foods Inc., which makes Cream of Wheat hot cereal, said it’s reviewing its packaging, that includes an image of a smiling black chef holding a bowl of cereal. Chicago-based Conagra Brands, which makes Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, said its female-shaped bottles are intended to evoke a “loving grandmother.” But the company said it can understand that the packaging could be misinterpreted. Critics have long claimed the bottle’s design is rooted in the “mammy” stereotype of black women. The soul-searching comes in the wake of PepsiCo’s announcement that it’s renaming its Aunt Jemima syrup brand. Mars Inc. is also reviewing its Uncle Ben’s rice brand.  

JEEP RECALL

Jeep SUVs recalled to fix problem that can cause power loss

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler is recalling almost 95,000 Jeep Cherokees worldwide because a transmission problem can cause the small SUVs to lose power unexpectedly. Also, when drivers shift into park, the transmissions may not go there, increasing the risk of a rollaway crash.

The recall covers certain Cherokees from the 2014 through 2017 model years and includes about 2,700 replacement parts. Gear teeth in a device that automatically changes from all-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive can wear off and cut power to the front wheels. Dealers will reprogram software to send power to the rear wheels if the teeth wear out. The software also will turn on the parking brake if a driver shifts into park.

Owners will get notices around July 31. 

WORLD VIDEO GAME HALL OF FAME

Bejeweled, Minecraft among games inducted into hall of fame

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — The World Video Game Hall of Fame has inducted its Class of 2020. The hall at The Strong museum in Rochester Thursday honored Bejeweled, Centipede, King’s Quest and Minecraft in a virtual ceremony that recognized the games’ influence on the industry and the gamers who’ve spent billions of hours playing them. The honorees were chosen from a field of 12 finalists that also included Frogger, Goldeneye 007, Guitar Hero, NBA Jam, Nokia Snake, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Uncharted 2, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Anyone can nominate a game. The final selections are made on the advice of experts.

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