Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks hold steady as Wall Street winds down tumultuous week

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are holding steady in early afternoon trading as Wall Street nears the end of its tumultuous week. The S&P 500 was up 0.2%, and other major U.S. indexes were also close to flat, following losses for stocks in Europe and Asia. The bond market was quiet, while crude prices climbed again. The calm trading in U.S. markets belies what’s been a wild week. From Monday’s astonishing plummet for oil to Thursday’s sudden disappearance of a morning stock rally, markets pinballed as the mood swung from fear to hope and back again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BUSINESS FALLOUT

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Even partial view of economic damage from virus is massive

UNDATED (AP) — Data now emerging from the U.S. and elsewhere is beginning to reveal economic damage from the pandemic is far worse than even the most pessimistic projections. France is keeping its famed cafes closed at least until June. U.S. railroads reported very week performances as business activity falters. On Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department said factory orders plunged 14.4% in March, and that is expected to grow worse. The lockdowns in the U.S. began only halfway through the month, so economists say the real damage will show up in the April figures.

DURABLE GOODS

US factory orders plunge 14.4% as economy grinds to halt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods dropped 14.4% in March, a worse-than-expected performance that underscored the severe impact the coronavirus pandemic was having on the U.S. economy. The Commerce Department reported Friday that the March decline in durable goods orders followed a 1.1% gain in February before the government-mandated shutdowns to contain the virus had begun. The report showed weakness across the board with demand for transportation products falling 41% with demand for motor vehicles and commercial airliners both dropping sharply.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONGRESS

Trump signs $484 billion measure to aid employers, hospitals

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed a $484 billion bill that aids employers and hospitals under stress from the coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak has killed more than 50,000 Americans and devastated broad swaths of the economy. The bill is the latest effort by the federal government to help keep afloat businesses that have had to close or dramatically alter their operations as states work to slow the spread of the virus. Easy passage of this aid installment belies a potentially bumpier path ahead for future legislation. Anchoring this bill is the Trump administration’s $250 billion request to replenish a fund to help small- and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses.

BUDGET DEFICIT

CBO says deficit to reach $3.7 trillion in economic decline

WASHINGTON (AP) — A recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a burst of government spending on testing, health care and aid to businesses and households will nearly quadruple the government’s budget deficit to $3.7 trillion. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO says the 2020 budget deficit will explode after four coronavirus response bills passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. Those bills promise to pile more than $2 trillion onto the $24.6 trillion national debt in just the remaining six months of the current fiscal year.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-GEORGIA

Georgia businesses reopen cautiously amid coronavirus worry

UNDATED (AP) — Some businesses in Georgia are reopening as the state’s governor eases a month-long shutdown despite fears that a new wave of coronavirus infections could result. A Savannah nail salon has dozens of appointments set. But neighboring businesses remained closed as it opened Friday. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp says the state needs to ease economic suffering. But he has critics including public health experts and President Donald Trump. The Georgia Department of Labor says that 1.1 million workers — about one-fifth of the state’s workforce — has filed for unemployment in the five weeks since the crisis started.

ARENA SHOWS-LAYOFFS

Firm behind monster trucks, ice shows lays off workers

PALMETTO, Fla. (AP) — The company that brings live shows ranging from “Disney on Ice” to monster trucks to local arenas has laid off nearly 1,500 workers because of the coronavirus pandemic. Florida-based Feld Entertainment said in a notification to the state that the coronavirus-induced prohibitions against mass gatherings had forced it to suspend its tours indefinitely. The company says government officials can’t say at this time when large gatherings at arenas will be allowed again or whether there’ll be limits on crowd sizes once they do. The workers laid off include almost 325 ensemble skaters, as well as technicians, wardrobe workers, special effects coordinators and other performers.

AP POLL-VIRUS OUTBREAK-ECONOMY

AP-NORC poll: Most losing jobs to virus think they’ll return

WASHINGTON (AP) — One out of every four American adults say someone in their household has lost a job to the coronavirus pandemic, but the vast majority expect those former jobs will return once the crisis passes. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Among those whose households have experienced a layoff, about 8 in 10 believe those former jobs will definitely or probably return. Another positive sign in the survey results: The percentage of workers who say their household has lost a source of income due to the virus outbreak is not significantly different from a few weeks ago.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-TRUMP-THERAPIES

Don’t inject disinfectants, Lysol warns as Trump raises idea

WASHINGTON (AP) — The maker of Lysol and another disinfectant says its products should not be used as an internal treatment for the coronavirus. The company issued a statement Friday to combat what it said was “recent speculation” after President Donald Trump raised the possibility of disinfectants being injected into people to combat the virus. The disinfectant manufacturer said that “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).” Trump on Thursday also touted ”emerging” research on the benefits of sunlight and humidity in diminishing the virus threat. Past studies have not shown good evidence of that.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-MALARIA-DRUGS

FDA warns of risks with Trump-promoted malaria drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning doctors against prescribing a malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus outside of hospitals or research settings. In an alert Friday, regulators warned of reports of serious side effects and death among patients taking hydroxychloroquine and a related drug chloroquine. The decades-old drugs, which are also prescribed for lupus, can cause a number of side effects, including dangerous irregular heart rhythms.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-UN RESPONSE

Nations back UN plan to speed wide rollout of COVID response

GENEVA (AP) — World leaders are rallying around the United Nations for an initiative to help the most vulnerable countries gain access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatment tools for the coronavirus as they emerge. The show of unity Friday for the U.N. and the World Health Organization for the effort to develop and deploy tools against the COVID-19 comes as the U.S. administration has criticized WHO’s response to the outbreak. A WHO document said the “Access to COVID-19 Tools”, or ACT, Accelerator aims to help develop tools “in record time and at record scale and access” to save millions of lives, trillions of dollars, and return to a sense of normalcy to the world.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FRANCE-AMAZON

2nd French court orders Amazon to better protect workers

PARIS (AP) — Amazon is studying its next moves in France after an appeals court upheld a ruling saying the company hadn’t done enough to protect workers from the virus. Unions in France and beyond welcomed Friday’s ruling by the appeals court in Versailles. Workers expressed hope that negotiations with Amazon management on new safety measures can start next week. Demand worldwide for Amazon’s services has soared because confined consumers can no longer shop in stores. Amazon shut all its French distribution centers last week, after a lower court ordered it to work out new safety measures with staff.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EGGS

Texas accuses largest US egg producer of price gouging

HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas attorney general has accused the nation’s largest egg producer of price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. The Houston Chronicle reports that a lawsuit filed Thursday by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton alleges that Cal-Maine Foods raised generic eggs price by 300% even though the pandemic hasn’t disrupted its supply chain. Texas is seeking more than $100,000 in damages.

Mississippi-based Cal-Maine denies the allegations, saying its prices are based on independent market quotes. Paxton’s lawsuit alleges that Cal-Maine’s egg prices jumped from about $1 per dozen to as high as $3.44 as consumers stocked up on staples. The lawsuit says Cal-Maine “is simply charging more because it can.”

DRAFTKINGS-GOING PUBLIC

DraftKings debuts on Wall Street amid sports world lockdown

BOSTON (AP) — Sports daily fantasy and betting website DraftKings has made its stock market debut against a backdrop of a near-complete shutdown of athletic competition across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic. The gamble appeared to pay off, with the Boston-based company’s shares jumping 10% in afternoon trading. DraftKings’ move to Wall Street was sealed Thursday after shareholders of a so-called blank-check company, Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., approved a merger. Blank check companies typically are publicly traded but have no operations of their own and aim to acquire or merge with others. The two are also combining with sports gambling platform supplier SBTech.

CASINO SALES

Twin River buying casinos in New Jersey, Nevada, Louisiana

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A casino company in the smallest state is pulling off one of the biggest deals of the year in the gambling industry, buying casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. And it could remove a major potential obstacle to the ongoing merger of Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts. Lincoln, Rhode Island-based Twin River Worldwide Holdings announced Friday it is buying Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino from Caesars Entertainment for $25 million. It also is buying Eldorado Shreveport Resort and Casino and the Mont Bleu Resort Casino & Spa in Lake Tahoe from Eldorado Resorts for a combined $155 million.

AMERICAN GIRL DOLL LAWSUIT

Astronomer files trademark lawsuit against American Girl

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Chicago astronomer is suing the maker of American Girl dolls, alleging the Wisconsin company stole her likeness and name to create its astronaut doll. The Wisconsin State Journal reports the federal trademark lawsuit filed in Madison by Lucianne Walkowicz asks American Girl and its parent company, Mattel, to stop selling the Luciana Vega doll. The doll is described as “an aspiring astronaut ready to take the next giant leap to Mars.” Walkowicz is a TED senior fellow at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, spent much of her career with NASA and has lectured extensively on Mars exploration. The lawsuit notes the doll has a purple streak in her hair and wears holographic shoes, just as Walkowicz does.

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