Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asia stocks

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks advanced today after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero to support a struggling economy.

The Shanghai Composite Index is up 0.1% while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo has given up 0.1.

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The Hang Seng in Hong Kong is 1% higher despite data showing the territory’s economy shrank by 9% in the quarter ending in June.

The Kospi in Seoul is up 0.3% and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 is 0.7% higher.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 1.2% to 3,258.44 in its biggest daily increase in two weeks. The S&P 500, which was down 34% earlier, is back within 3.8% of its February record.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6% to 26,539.57. The Nasdaq composite added 1.4% to 10,542.94.

US-ECONOMY

US is expected to report a record-breaking economic plunge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Having endured what was surely a record-shattering slump last quarter, the U.S. economy faces a dim outlook as a resurgent coronavirus intensifies doubts about the likelihood of any sustained recovery the rest of the year.

A huge plunge in consumer spending, especially as people stayed home and avoided shopping, traveling or gathering in crowds as the virus raged, is estimated to have sent the economy sinking at a roughly 32% annual rate in the April-June quarter.

That would be roughly triple the previous record economic contraction.

Today, the government will issue its first of three estimates of economic activity for the April-June quarter.

US-ENERGY DEMAND DROPS

US energy use hit 30-year low during pandemic shutdowns

BILLINGS, Montana (AP) — U.S. energy consumption plummeted to its lowest level in more than 30 years this spring as the economy largely shut down due to the coronavirus. The decline reported Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration was driven by less demand for coal to produce electricity and oil that’s refined into gasoline and jet fuel. Overall energy consumption dropped 14 % during April.

That’s the lowest monthly level since 1989 and the largest decrease that’s been recorded by the energy administration in records dating to 1973.

The largest drop previously seen was in December 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks shocked the economy and a mild winter depressed electricity demand.

Those trends are turning around as commercial activity resumes but the impact has already been profound — including energy companies filing for bankruptcy protection and a forecast dip in annual U.S. and global greenhouse gas emissions.

BRITAIN-EARNS-SHELL

Shell profits plunge 82% as pandemic hits energy demand

LONDON (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell says second-quarter earnings plunged 82% as the COVID-19 pandemic slashed energy prices and demand.

Shell says adjusted profit, which excludes one-time items and changes in the value of inventories, dropped to $638 million from $3.46 billion in the same period last year.

Shell took a charge of $16.8 billion amid reduced expectations for energy prices and refining margins, as well as weaker energy demand due to the pandemic. Including this charge, the company reported a net loss of $18.1 billion, compared with net income of $3 billion pounds a year earlier.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPIRIT AIRLINES

Spirit warns of layoffs; aid for contractors being examined

UNDATED (AP) — Spirit is the latest airline to warn about possible furloughs in October, when federal payroll-help money runs out. The budget airline could send furlough warnings to up to 30% of its 9,000 employees.

Spirit got federal money in exchange for not laying off workers until October.

Separately, key members of Congress say they are investigating 12 airline-industry contractors who got payroll-help money after laying off thousands of workers between them.

The lawmakers want the Treasury Department to recover any money that was given to the contractors, who include some big airline catering outfits. The biggest aid recipients of the companies they named were caterers Gate Gourmet, which expected to get $171 million but laid off 3,567 employees earlier this year according to state filings, and Swissport USA, which anticipated $170 million but had laid off 2,840 workers.

FRANCE-EARNS-AIRBUS

Airbus plane deliveries halved as airlines scrounge for cash

PARIS (AP) — European plane maker Airbus saw its deliveries halve during the first six months of the year as air travel collapsed during the pandemic and airlines scrounged for cash.

The company says its deliveries fell almost 50% to 196, with revenue sliding almost 40% to 18.9 billion euros. It says it is further scaling back production of its A350 long haul jet, from six to five a month, after trimming it from nine in April.

The company says it expects air travel to recover to pre-pandemic levels sometime between 2023 and 2025.

WILMINGTON-TRUST BANK-FRAUD

Former Wilmington Trust execs lose bid to nix SEC complaint

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a request by two former bank executives who were convicted on criminal charges to dismiss a civil suit filed by securities regulators. The judge ruled Wednesday that the Securities and Exchange Commission adequately pleaded fraud claims against former Wilmington Trust president Robert Harra and former chief credit officer William North.

Harra, North, former Wilmington Trust chief financial officer David Gibson and former controller Kevyn Rakowski were convicted in 2018 on fraud and conspiracy charges.

The Securities and Exchange Commission complaint alleges that the men were involved in making false statements regarding the bank’s past due loans. Wilmington Trust is the only financial institution criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program that was offered after the 2008 financial crisis.

All have remained free on bail while appealing their convictions.

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