Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher on bank news

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher today after U.S. regulators removed some limits on banks’ ability to make investments.

Benchmarks in Tokyo, Sydney and Southeast Asia advanced while Hong Kong declined. Chinese markets were closed for a holiday.

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Yesterday on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 1.1% to 3,083.76 after falling 0.9% at one point. The benchmark index is on pace for its best quarter since 1998.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2% to 25,745.60. The Nasdaq, which hit an all-time high earlier this week, gained 1.1%, to 10,017.

BANKS-STRESS TEST

Fed stops big banks from buying back stock, paying dividends

NEW YORK (AP) — A worst-case scenario for the U.S. economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic would cause nation’s 34 largest banks to collectively lose roughly $700 billion according to the Federal Reserve.

To bolster the banks ahead such a potentially damaging recession, the Fed ordered the banks to suspend buybacks of their own stock and halt dividend payouts until Sept. 30. The move comes as the central bank unveiled its latest “stress tests,” which are designed to test the resiliency of the nation’s largest banks. The annual tests change every year, and passing the tests is a requirement for the banks to start buying back shares or paying out dividends.

TRUMP-FEDERAL WORKERS

Trump wants federal hiring to focus on skills over degrees

WASHINGTON (AP) — A job applicants’ skills could soon take priority over a college degree for federal workers.

President Donald Trump is preparing to direct the federal government to overhaul its hiring practices. That’s the word from Trump administration and industry officials.

Trump is set to sign an executive order today outlining this new direction for the federal government, which is the nation’s largest employer. The White House isn’t eliminating degree requirements altogether but instead will stress skills in jobs where having a degree is less important.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, says the shift will help diversify and improve the workforce.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MEAT PLANTS-LAWSUIT

Families of 3 deceased workers sue Tyson over Iowa outbreak

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The families of three workers who died after contracting the coronavirus in an Iowa meat plant outbreak sued Tyson Foods and its top executives Thursday.

The lawsuit alleges that Tyson officials were aware the virus was spreading at the Waterloo pork processing plant by late March or early April but kept that information from employees and the public. It also alleges that the company knowingly put employees at risk and lied to keep them on the job. It also charges that the company failed to implement safety measures, allowed some sick and exposed employees to remain on the production line, and falsely assured workers and the public that the plant was safe.

A Tyson spokesman says the firm is “saddened by the deaths” and that its “top priority” is the health and safety of workers.

NIKE-RESULTS

Nike posts quarterly loss after virus forced store closures

NEW YORK (AP) — Nike lost $790 million in the fourth quarter, as soaring digital sales couldn’t make up for the loss of revenue from shuttered stores in most of the world.

The world’s largest sports apparel maker said Thursday that its revenue fell 38% to $6.31 billion in the three-month period ending May 31. That was well below the $7.26 billion in revenue expected by Wall Street analysts, according to a survey by Zacks.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based company’s quarterly loss amounted to 51 cents per share. Analysts had expected a profit of 2 cents a share. Nike said 90% of its stores in North America, Europe, Latin America were closed during the period because of the coronavirus pandemic. Sales fell 46% in both North America and Europe but just 3% in China as stores reopened there. Revenue grew 1% in China when accounting for currency fluctuations.

FACEBOOK-AD BOYCOTT

Verizon joins ad boycott of Facebook over hateful content

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Verizon is joining an escalating movement to siphon advertising away from Facebook in an effort to pressure the company into doing more to prevent racist and violent information from being shared on its social networking service.

The decision announced Thursday by one of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies is part of an boycott organized by civil rights and other advocacy groups under the rallying cry of “#StopHateforProfit.” The protest, spurred by last month’s killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, is supposed to last through July.

Verizon noted that it has previously stopped advertising at other popular online destinations, such as Google’s YouTube video service, when it has felt its promotions might appear alongside content inconsistent with the company’s values. Other advertisers who have pledged to stay off Facebook and other company services such as Instagram include three major outdoor gear companies, Patagonia, The North Face and REI.

NETHERLANDS-KLM

Dutch minister throws carrier KLM 3.4 billion euro lifeline

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government says that it will throw national carrier KLM a 3.4 billion-euro ($3.81 billion) lifeline to help the airline survive the aviation slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The finance minister says the support package is made up of a 1 billion-euro ($1.12 billion) loan and 2.4 billion euros ($2.69 billion) in guarantees for bank loans.

There are strings attached to the bailout, with the government setting conditions including that KLM must cut costs by 15%, improve the airline’s sustainability and reduce the number of night flights it carries out at the national airport Schiphol on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

LOBBYIST-INVESTOR FRAUD

Lobbyist Abramoff charged in cryptocurrency fraud case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) —Federal authorities say Jack Abramoff, a once-powerful lobbyist who spent time in federal prison for fraud and corruption, has been charged in a San Francisco court in an investor fraud case involving cryptocurrency and lobbying disclosure.

U.S. Attorney David Anderson said Abramoff, of Silver Spring, Maryland, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges and a criminal violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act in the case involving a cryptocurrency called AML BitCoin. Anderson said the charges were the first brought since Congress in 2007 amended the act to address lobbying abuses and undisclosed influence that came to light during the early 2000s lobbying scandal involving Abramoff.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006 to a wide-ranging influence peddling probe that involved Capitol Hill, the Interior Department and members of President George W. Bush’s administration. He was convicted of conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion and served nearly four years in prison. He was released in 2010.

MICHIGAN PIPELINE

Judge shuts down energy pipeline in Michigan’s Great Lakes

DETROIT (AP) — A judge shut down an energy pipeline in Michigan’s Great Lakes on Thursday, granting a request from the state after the owner reported problems with a support piece far below the surface.

Ingham County Judge James Jamo said Enbridge Inc. has not provided enough information to Michigan officials to show that continued operation of the west leg of the Line 5 twin pipeline is safe. Enbridge, a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta, said it was disappointed with the decision but quickly complied by closing the west leg.

Enbridge’s Line 5 carries oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. A four-mile segment divides into two pipes that lie on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. According to Enbridge, Line 5 transports up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids, which are refined into propane.

VIRGIN GALACTIC-TEST FLIGHT

Virgin Galactic marks second glide flight over New Mexico

UPHAM, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic on Thursday celebrated the second successful glide flight of its spaceship over Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

Unlike the first glide test in early May, the pilots flew at higher speeds to help evaluate the ship’s systems and performance in preparation for the next stage of testing. That will involve rocket-powered flights.

During Thursday’s flight, the spaceship reached a glide speed of Mach 0.85 after being released from the carrier ship VMS Eve at an altitude of 51,000 feet. The pilots conducted various tests and maneuvers before touching down on the runway. More than 600 customers from around the world have purchased tickets to be launched into the lower fringes of space where they can experience weightlessness and get a view of the Earth below.

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