Shares, oil prices sink after Trump tests positive for virus
UNDATED (AP) — U.S. stock futures and Asian shares have fallen after President Donald Trump said he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Dow and S&P futures are each down 1.9%. Oil prices tumbled more than 3%. Trump tweeted news of his test results just hours after the White House announced that senior aide Hope Hicks had come down with the virus after traveling with the president several times this week.
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Trading in Asia was thin, with markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong closed. The Nikkei 225 index shed strong early gains after the Tokyo Stock Exchange resumed trading today following an all day outage due to a technical failure.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats controlling the House narrowly have passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, a move that came as top-level talks on a smaller, potentially bipartisan measure dragged on toward an uncertain finish. An air of pessimism has largely taken over the Capitol.
The Democratic bill passed after a partisan debate without any Republicans in support.
The move puts lawmakers no closer to actually delivering aid such as more generous weekly unemployment payments, extended help for small businesses and especially troubled economic sectors and another round of $1,200 direct payments to most Americans.
Passage of the $2.2 trillion plan came after a burst of negotiations this week between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Judge blocks large parts of temporary work visa ban
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily lifted a visa ban on a large number of work permits, undercutting a measure that the Trump administration says will protect American jobs in a pandemic-wracked economy.
Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, says President Donald Trump likely acted outside bounds of his authority.
The preliminary injunction applies to hundreds of thousands of members of organizations that sued the administration — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, technology industry group TechNet and Intrax Inc., which sponsors cultural exchanges.SAN
VIRUS OUTBREAK-AMAZON WORKERS
Amazon: Nearly 20,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon says that nearly 20,000 of its workers have either tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19. Amazon says in a corporate blog Thursday that it examined data from March 1 to Sept. 19 for its 1.37 million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market.
It says that it compared COVID-19 case rates to the general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the same period. Based on that analysis, if the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods employees were the same as it is for the general population rate, it estimated it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce. That is 42% higher that Amazon’s actual rate.
The Seattle-based company also says it is conducting thousands of tests a day, which will grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November.
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The analysis comes as Amazon, along with other retailers and meat packing plants, have been under increasing pressure by workers and labor-backed groups to go public with their COVID cases.
Trump pushes mining with order, but effects are uncertain
BILLINGS, Montana (AP) — The Trump administration is seeking to fast-track mining permits and offer grants and loans to help companies pay for mining equipment as part of its ongoing effort to boost the industry. Administration officials on Thursday offered details on a plan that critics said could spoil waterways with mining pollution.
With the election just over a month away, President Donald Trump signed an order late Wednesday declaring a national emergency over the country’s reliance on imported minerals. How effective the order will be is uncertain. Mines typically need approvals from state regulators, too.
Trump adviser Peter Navarro described how the order could be used to transform the resource-rich Iron Range area in the election-battleground state of Minnesota from an iron mining area into a more diverse mining district, thereby lessening dependence on materials from countries such as China.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico blasted the order as a wasteful subsidy for an industry with a long history of abandoning polluted sites.
HOSPITAL CHAIN-NETWORK OUTAGE
Hacked hospital chain says all 250 US facilities affected
UNDATED (AP) — The hospital chain Universal Health Services says computer systems at all 250 of its U.S. facilities were hit by a malware attack last weekend and it has not yet recovered. Doctors and nurses at affected hospitals and clinics have had to resort to paper records amid chaotic conditions, with lab work slowed.
UHS says electronic medical records systems were not impacted.
The chain has not commented on reports it was hit by ransomware, though its description of the attack in a statement Thursday was consistent with malware variety that encrypts data into gibberish that can only be restored with software keys after ransoms are paid.
JAPAN-STOCK EXCHANGE OUTAGE
Tokyo Stock Exchange resumes trading after technical outage
TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Stock Exchange has resumed normal trading after it was closed all day Thursday due to what officials say was a computer hardware and systems malfunction. Tokyo Stock Exchange President Koichiro Miyahara told reporters a device within the bourse’s huge trading system failed early Thursday.
Backups did not kick in following the hardware failure. There was no indication that the outage resulted from hacking or other cybersecurity breaches.
The exchange says that restarting the system during the trading day would have caused confusion. But the outage left traders with quote-less screens and brokerages fielding a flood of calls from frustrated investors.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-MONEY SENT TO MEXICO
Mexican workers send home huge amounts of money amid virus
PHOENIX (AP) — Mexican workers have confounded economists by sending home huge sums of money during the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts had predicted that as the American economy took a dive, migrant workers would send their families less money, known as remittances. But payments from Mexican workers in August amounted to $3.57 billion, the second-highest level on record for a single month. Most remittances to Mexico come from the U.S.
Economists say their original forecasts underestimated the strength of “human networks” between Mexican migrants in the U.S. and their families back home. They also say the unexpected rise is driven by a weakened Mexican peso and government benefits provided in America.
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