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The U.S. Treasury agreed on loan deals with American Airlines Group Inc. and four other carriers, further bolstering liquidity as the virus all-but killed travel demand, Bloomberg reported. American confirmed it will borrow $4.75 billion to weather the travel crisis caused by the pandemic. Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, SkyWest and Spirit Airlines also reached deals to borrow from the Treasury.
The rebound in the U.S. labor market accelerated in June as broader reopenings spurred more hiring, Bloomberg reported, though filings for unemployment benefits remained elevated last week as coronavirus cases picked up.
Payrolls rose by 4.8 million in June after an upwardly revised 2.7 million gain in the prior month, according to a Labor Department report. The unemployment rate fell for a second month to 11.1%, still far above the pre-pandemic half-century low of 3.5%.
The amount of energy required globally by 2050 will be 8% lower than DNV GL's pre-pandemic forecast, the firm said. Efforts to improve energy efficiency, combined with lower economic output caused by the pandemic, are slowing demand. The report predicts "lasting behavioral changes" in travel, commuting and working habits, resulting in less need for fossil fuels by sectors such as transportation and iron and steel production.
The forecast indicates that worldwide CO2 emissions likely have already peaked in 2019. "However, even with peak emissions behind us, and flat energy demand through to 2050, the energy transition is still nowhere near fast enough to deliver on the Paris ambition of keeping global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels," the firm said. "To reach the 1.5-degree target, we would need to repeat the decline in emissions we’re experiencing in 2020 every year from now on."
“This is an opportunity that cannot go to waste," said Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO of DNV GL. "Governments and international regulatory institutions must take this opportunity to make a lasting impact on decarbonization.”
The House gave final last-minute congressional approval Wednesday to extending the popular Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses until Aug. 8, hours after the deadline for applications lapsed with more than $130 billion still available, Bloomberg reported.
The Senate had passed the extension Tuesday, shortly before the Small Business Administration was to stop accepting new loan applications at 11:59 p.m. Both chambers used expedited procedures to send the bill to President Donald Trump for his signature.
As of Tuesday, the program has approved more than 4.8 million loans totaling $520.6 billion since it was enacted in March.
Countries including Britain, Germany and Switzerland sought to allay concerns that they won’t have sufficient stocks of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, one of two drugs shown to treat COVID-19, after the U.S forged a deal to snap up almost all the supplies for three months, Bloomberg reported.
The U.K. worked with Gilead in May to secure remdesivir in advance and has enough of the medicine to treat every National Health Service patient who needs it, officials said. Switzerland has supplies of the drug set aside for seriously ill patients, according to a government spokesman.
Long-term contracted ocean freight rates fell for the second consecutive month in June, a reflection of the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy, according to Xeneta.
The firm's latest XSI Public Indices Report finds a drop in rates of 1.8% in June, following a May decline of 1.2%. Carriers have now experienced an 0.2% rate drop since the beginning of 2020, despite historically high levels and four consecutive months of increases through February. Moreover, said Xeneta, "future economic indicators are far from promising."
Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund said carriers have worked hard in recent months to balance supply and demand by removing tonnage, adjusting routes and continuously reviewing rate-making strategies. "What will be key now is can carriers resist the temptation of releasing capacity back into the market in an attempt to win market share? The capacity is there ready to be deployed, but do that too soon, and too rapidly, and the rates could collapse.”
"Rates have held fairly firm so far," Berglund added, "but it remains to be seen how effectively the carriers can fight against such overwhelming odds, and for how long."
Airbus SE embarked on the most extensive restructuring in its history, setting out plans to cut 15,000 civil-aerospace jobs worldwide — an 11% reduction in global headcount, Bloomberg reported.
Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury has said the company’s output will be 40% lower than expected for two years due to a dramatic slump in demand for aircraft, and has previously warned it is bleeding cash.
The last overseas flight to expedite shipment of supplies through the Trump administration's "Project Airbridge" initiative is scheduled to arrive in Ohio on Tuesday, CNN reported.
Around 249 flights have been completed through Airbridge, an effort launched in March when the U.S. faced dire supply shortages, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Despite a surge in coronavirus cases across the country, Trump administration officials have expressed confidence in the supply of personal protective equipment and ventilators. Still, officials have left the door open for Airbridge to restart if necessary.
China suspended meat imports from more plants as the nation continues to sow confusion in global agriculture markets by suggesting a potential link between the spread of coronavirus and food, Bloomberg reported.
Customs authorities suspended imports from plants in countries including Brazil, Canada and Germany, according to a notice on a departmental website. While China didn’t provide a reason for the suspension, most, if not all, of the facilities had one thing in common: COVID-19 outbreaks.
Amazon will spend more than $500 million on one-time bonuses for all front-line workers and partners with the company throughout June, The Wall Street Journal reported. The payout comes after the company decided last month to end a short-term pay bump for employees, including those in warehouses fulfilling customer orders.
Full-time employees at Amazon, its Whole Foods Market business and drivers in its contracted delivery program will receive $500, while those in part-time positions will receive $250, said Dave Clark, senior vice president of world-wide operations, in a blog post. Another group of drivers will get $150.
Leaders at Amazon and Whole Foods will receive a $1,000 bonus, and owners running contracted delivery-service operations will get $3,000.
Remdesivir is one of the first widely used drugs for COVID-19. It received an emergency use authorization from U.S. regulators in May, after a trial found the medicine hastened recovery by about four days in hospitalized patients, Bloomberg reported.
“We wanted to make sure that nothing gets in the way of remdesivir getting to patients,” Gilead Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Day said in an interview. The price “will make sure all patients around the world have access to this medicine.
Top iron ore shipper Australia predicts elevated prices will stay for the rest of 2020 as Chinese demand strengthens and supply is slow to increase, according to Bloomberg.
Iron ore surged past $100 a ton in the first half after disruptions in Brazil curbed shipments just as Chinese mills churned out a record volume of steel. Prices are expected to largely hold at current levels over the remainder of the year, albeit drifting slightly lower in the second half, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources said in a quarterly report. It boosted the forecast for this year by almost 30% and also raised its 2021 outlook.
A second wave of COVID-19 infections in China’s capital is starting to weigh on export prices for American crude, according to Bloomberg. West Texas Intermediate oil for supply in August along the U.S. Gulf Coast is now trading at about 80 to 90 cents a barrel above Nymex futures, down from a nearly $1.15-a-barrel premium last week.
Before the renewed outbreak in Beijing that has now spread to neighboring provinces, buyers in China were snapping up cheap U.S. oil with crude processing at local refineries climbing even higher last month than before the pandemic began. But shipments may take a hit over the next few months after record purchases in May crushed port infrastructure.
Purchases of about 23 million barrels of American crude oil for loading in May were sent to domestic refineries, and only 12 million barrels are en route to China this month, data show.
The World Health Organization and two global health nonprofits have announced an $18 billion plan to procure two billion doses of eventual coronavirus vaccines for distribution in developing nations, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The goal is to make sure coronavirus vaccines are distributed equitably among countries and wealthier nations don’t dominate supplies in the early days of their production when stocks are expected to be limited, the WHO said.
The vaccine drive will be spearheaded by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI. They will have to raise much of the expected $18 billion cost from donors.
Some 16 vaccine candidates are in human testing and another 125 are in development.
U.S. orders for durable goods jumped in May by 15.8%, the most since July 2014, after a revised 18.1% decline in April, Bloomberg reported.
Shipments of core capital goods, a figure economists use to calculate gross domestic product, climbed 1.8% in May. GDP in the second quarter is forecast to post its steepest annualized decline in records dating back to the 1940s. In the first quarter, GDP shrank an annualized 5%, Commerce Department data showed.
Transportation equipment orders jumped nearly 81% in May, including a 27.5% increase in motor vehicles and parts. The value of commercial aircraft bookings rose to $3.1 billion after a decline of $8.6 billion, which reflected order cancellations. Nondefense capital goods orders including aircraft rose 27.1%.
Valued at $194.4 billion, May’s orders remain far short of where they were three months earlier, suggesting a long path to recovery.
Build Your Dreams (BYD), a maker of technology for electric vehicles that has shifted to manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the coronavirus pandemic, has filed a federal lawsuit against individuals that it claims are selling counterfeit face masks under its name.
In a suit filed in the U.S. Court, Central District of California in Los Angeles, BYD accuses several parties of "selling, or attempting to sell, counterfeit Personal Protective Equipment to unwitting customers, endangering many on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19."
BYD is seeking unspecified damages, and has promised to donate any award of damages to charitable COVID-19 relief efforts, according to company president Stella Li.
BYD formed Global Healthcare Product Solutions LLC to make masks and medical devices in North America. It now claims to be the single largest manufacturer of respiratory masks in the world, turning out 50 million masks per day. The items are being sold under “BYD” and “BYD Care” trademarks.
"When defendants falsely advertise the masks as being manufactured by BYD, they are deceiving the customers into believing that the masks will function to the specifications required by the government to protect the person ultimately wearing the mask from contracting COVID-19," the company said.
"BYD will not condone bad actors using BYD’s brand recognition and trademarks to deceive and harm the public," it added.
China is tightening restrictions on food imports as it seeks to stave off a resurgence of the coronavirus, but its efforts are meeting resistance from government agencies of major food exporters, according to The Wall Street Journal.
China’s customs authority requested last week that companies sending meat, dairy and other food products to the country sign documents declaring that their food hasn’t been contaminated by the virus. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. trade officials initially cautioned American food exporters about signing such documents, since China’s requests for COVID-19 attestations weren’t negotiated as part of trade-policy discussions between the two countries.
Ultimately, U.S. federal officials this week opted to leave the decision up to exporting companies.
Food exporters in several countries are deliberating over China’s request. Some U.S. industry executives worry that China could use those attestations as a reason for rejecting or delaying shipments. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said there is no evidence COVID-19 is a foodborne illness and that it is unlikely to spread through food packaging.
Apple Inc. will close 14 stores in Florida, citing a spike in new coronavirus cases, raising total U.S. shop closures to 32, Bloomberg reported.
The company on Wednesday closed its seven retail stores in Houston and last week again shut 11 stores across Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Despite the new closures, Apple has reopened the majority of its 271 U.S. stores.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was higher than forecast for a second straight week, adding to signs that the recovery is cooling amid a pickup in coronavirus cases, Bloomberg reported. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell to 1.48 million last week from an upwardly revised 1.54 million in the prior week, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Economists had forecast 1.32 million.
A new survey of supply-chain managers by Gartner finds a third of respondents planning to move sourcing and manufacturing out of China by 2023.
The COVID-19 outbreak is one reason for the change, Gartner says. Others include uncertainties caused by the U.S.-China trade war, the resulting wave of tariffs on imports, and a new emphasis by companies on supply-chain resilience.
“Global supply chains were being disrupted long before COVID-19 emerged,” said Kamala Raman, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice. “Already in 2018 and 2019, the U.S.-China trade war made supply-chain leaders aware of the weaknesses of their globalized supply chains, and question the logic of heavily outsourced, concentrated and interdependent networks. As a result, a new focus on network resilience and the idea of more regional manufacturing emerged.
"But this kind of change comes with a price tag," Raman added, noting that 58% percent of respondents believe greater resilience means additional structural costs to networks.
As a result, she said, U.S. companies will need to adopt new types of automation in the factory to reduce the cost of near- or onshore production. "Some also favor a partial option, such as manufacturing in Asia and moving only the final assembly closer to the customer,” Raman said.
Supplies of lithium and other minerals used in rechargeable batteries are highly concentrated in just a few countries, leaving the raw materials vulnerable to disruption as a boom in electric cars bolsters demand, according to a report from the United Nations.
Nearly 50% of world cobalt reserves are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 58% of lithium reserves are in Chile, and 80% of natural graphite is in China, Brazil and Turkey, Bloomberg reported.
The possibility of political instability and adverse environmental impacts in these countries raises concerns about the security of the supply, posing a risk of tighter markets, higher prices and increased battery costs at a time when low-carbon energy sources are needed to help fight climate change, the UN said. While investing more in green technologies that depend less on critical battery raw materials could help reduce consumers’ vulnerability to supply shortfalls, this would cut the revenues of the nations producing them.
The International Monetary Fund downgraded its outlook for the coronavirus-ravaged world economy, projecting a significantly deeper recession and slower recovery than it anticipated just two months ago, according to Bloomberg.
The fund says it now expects global gross domestic product to shrink 4.9% this year, more than the 3% predicted in April. For 2021, the fund forecast growth of 5.4%, down from 5.8%.
New data from FourKites shows that supply-chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak appear to be finally leveling off.
The company reports that load cancellations by meat-processing companies have dropped 24% since their peak during the week of April 20, and are now at pre-pandemic levels.
Food and beverage shipments over the past month are essentially stable, showing an increase of just 1%. But they're down 7% when compared with March, when consumers were engaging in panic buying.
Consumer packaged goods shipments rose 9% over the last month, and "remain at elevated levels since their initial spike in demand in early March," FourKites said. However, personal care products, up slightly between mid-April and mid-May, declined 5% in the last month.
"The current pandemic poses a highly fluid situation, given the ongoing uncertainty around the trajectory of infections as more states and businesses reopen," said Vivek Vaid, chief technology officer with FourKites. "We do anticipate that volumes will likely increase over the next four weeks, as the end of the quarter and Fourth of July celebrations will lead to increased demand for shippers in many consumer-focused industries."
Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan’s largest ship owner, is cutting its fleet by 5% over the next three years on expectations of a deep decline in trade volumes, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The cuts will involve 40 vessels, including container ships, dry-bulk carriers, tankers and car carriers. MOL, as the carrier is known, currently operates 800 ships and is one of the world’s biggest seaborne operators.
MOL’s move is the latest in a series of cuts taken by ocean carriers in recent months to deal with a steep decline in shipping demand because of the lockdowns aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus. Container sailings from Asia to Europe and across the Pacific are down at least 25% so far this year, according to Copenhagen-based research group SeaIntelligence Consulting, and several carriers are lined up for government bailouts or preferential loans.
European car sales are forecast to drop by a record 25% this year — the steepest on record and the lowest number of cars sold since 2013, when the industry was emerging from a protracted decline following the 2008 financial crisis, Bloomberg reported.
Just 9.6 million vehicles are expected to be sold in the European Union, compared with 12.8 million last year, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said in its first forecast since January, before the health crisis unfolded in the region.
The exact shape of a potential recovery remains unclear as carmakers from Volkswagen AG to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV prepare to announce results next month for what is likely to be a devastating second quarter. France, Germany and Spain have unveiled aid packages for the industry, while Britain’s main automotive trade group called for government support, saying one in six jobs are at risk.
President Trump signed an order temporarily halting access to several employment-based visas, Bloomberg reported. The order freezes new H1-B and H-4 visas, used by technology workers and their families, as well as L visas for intracompany transfers and most J visas for work- and study-abroad programs, including au pairs, through the end of the year.
The action will also pause some H2-B visas for seasonal workers, with an exception for those in the food-processing industry, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Monday. The issuance of new green cards will also remain halted through the end of the year.
Amazon.com Inc. called the order “short-sighted,” saying immigrant tech labor could help the U.S. economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Toyota Motor Corp. expects to ramp up production further in Japan during July as it restarts factories, reaching 90% of its targeted output level, Bloomberg reported.
Six production lines will see suspensions during July for a total of 16 days, compared with 25 closed lines and 133 days of stoppage in June, the Japanese automaker said.
The pandemic has forced carmakers around the world to shutter showrooms and factories, weighing on earnings. Although Toyota has halted some domestic factories from April through June, it won’t change its plan to produce at least 3 million cars annually in the country, Mitsuru Kawai, Toyota’s chief human resources officer, told shareholders earlier this month.
New projections from the International Air Transport Association indicate a deteriorating picture for European airlines, with the U.K. suffering the steepest passenger shortfall and Spain taking the biggest hit to the wider economy, Bloomberg reported.
Europe’s five leading aviation markets will together lose 150 million more travelers this year than forecast at the start of lockdowns in March, according to the trade group. The slump in revenue will steepen accordingly, with the decline versus 2019 sales approaching $30 billion in the U.K., the world’s third-largest aviation market after the U.S. and China, compared with an original estimate of just over $20 billion.
Turn to job losses, and Spain’s huge tourism industry means it’s set to suffer most. Close to 1 million people in posts directly reliant on aviation may find themselves out of work there, 233,000 more than first envisioned. In the U.K., the job-loss estimate increased by 331,000.
The hit to gross domestic product is now forecast to total $245 billion across the six countries worst affected. That’s $70 billion more than originally estimated and bigger than the entire economy of Portugal or Greece.
China’s suspension of imports from a Tyson Foods Inc. plant stoked concerns over the broader implications for U.S. and global meat exports during the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.
All products from the facility in Springdale, Arkansas, where Tyson is based, that are about to arrive in China or are at ports will be seized by customs. The suspension announced Sunday reversed a decision a few days ago, when officials said food was unlikely to be responsible for a fresh virus outbreak in Beijing. Tyson on Friday said 13% of its workers tested positive for the virus at plants in northwest Arkansas.
The move is a potential new threat to meat plants that have seen slaughter disruptions because of the virus. In the U.S., hundreds of workers have become ill, and dozens have died. There’s also been a recent uptick in infections at facilities in Brazil and Germany.
One of two test kits developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to detect the “first wave” of the coronavirus failed because some reagents were “likely contaminated,” according to a Department of Health and Human Services review reported by the Washington Post.
Development of kits began in early January, on a rush basis, and the reagents — needed to determine final results — may have been exposed in late January, according to the report. Lab processes may have been insufficient to prevent the contamination risk, although “it is likely that time pressure also contributed,” the report found.
Canada is partnering with Shopify Inc. volunteers and BlackBerry Ltd. on a contact-tracing application for COVID-19 as cases in the country breached 100,000, Bloomberg reported.
Prime Minister Trudeau said users will be able to upload their test results voluntarily onto the app. All data will be kept anonymous, with no location or personal information collected.
The push for contact tracing comes as the pandemic reached a milestone in Canada: more than 100,000 cases. While the rate of new infections has been receding — new cases in Ontario have been under 200 for five straight days — the country now has about 8,255 deaths.
U.S. lawmakers rolled out proposals to help restaurants and other small businesses still dealing with the outbreak, Bloomberg reported, as a relief program is set to end on June 30 and Congress weighs more stimulus.
Legislation was introduced to create a $120 billion bailout fund for small food and beverage establishments, as well as a separate proposal to allow any remaining funds from the Paycheck Protection Program to be used for small firms that need the most help.
Consumer demand sparked by the reopening of stores in some states caused ocean container rates from China to the U.S. to rise this week, with record gains on at least one leg, according to Freightos Group.
Prices on the China-to-U.S. East Coast route topped $3,000 per 40-foot equivalent unit (TEU) for the first time since July, 2019. And from China to the U.S. West Coast, rates hit a two-and-a-half-year high. In the case of the latter route, a 50% increase over the end of May set a record for monthly gains, as recorded by FreightWaves' Weekly FBX Report.
June is the first month to see implementation of two successive general rate increases since January 2019, "which is all the more striking for happening in such a low demand environment," Freightos said.
The firm noted that many industry observers are hesitating to call the latest results the beginning of a sustained economic rebound, given other indications that consumer spending "will not come roaring back any time soon" due to persistence of the coronavirus pandemic.
"This, of course, makes the spikes throughout June even more remarkable," Freightos said.
Ford Motor Co. is again extending its work-from-home arrangements for U.S. salaried workers in response to employee requests to keep working remotely, Bloomberg reported.
The automaker will begin surveying salaried employees June 18 to determine work arrangements for 2021, it said in a statement. For the remainder of this year, white collar workers have the option to work remotely, in the office or a combination of both.
This is the second time Ford has pushed back plans to bring salaried workers back into offices. Hourly workers returned to factories a month ago and some have tested positive for the virus, although Ford has said the contagion was contracted outside its facilities. Workers at two factories producing Ford’s top selling vehicle, the F-150 pickup, have pushed back, saying the automaker isn’t doing enough to ensure their safety.
The automaker, which has denied that safety protocols are inadequate, said delaying salaried workers’ return helps ensure there’s enough personal protective equipment for factory employees, who can’t work remotely.
Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. is working to ensure it can manage demand for the generic anti-inflammatory drug it makes that was shown to improve survival in COVID-19 patients, according to Bloomberg.
Africa’s biggest drugmaker has set up a team to assess how much of the 60-year-old drug dexamethasone it can supply and by when, CEO Stephen Saad said. The low-cost, widely used medicine — also made by rivals including Mylan NV and Merck & Co. — is the first treatment to show life-saving promise for those very ill with the disease, according to data released Tuesday by the University of Oxford.
“Demand needs to be managed in a carefully calculated way,” Saad said.
Mexico plans to keep migrant workers from traveling to Canada amid a wave of coronavirus outbreaks on farms, threatening a labor squeeze in that country’s fruit and vegetable industry as harvests start to ramp up, Bloomberg reported.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry announced a “temporary pause” on migrant workers traveling to Canada while protocols and sanitary situations are reviewed.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation said it will now support ship crews’ rights to stop working, even if that comes at the cost of disrupting global trade, Bloomberg reported.
The change in messaging comes after it says governments took insufficient action to facilitate the repatriation of around 200,000 seafarers and exempt them from COVID-19 travel restrictions by designating them “key workers.” The federation and its affiliated unions also called on crews not to agree to contract extensions starting Tuesday.
“Enough is enough,” ITF President Paddy Crumlin said in a statement. “We have to draw a line in the sand and today is the day that we make it crystal clear to governments, that from June 16, seafarers are going to start enforcing their right to stop working and to return home. No more contract extensions.”
The global airline industry needs more government aid in order to survive what's expected to be a difficult winter, the International Air Transport Association said.
Airlines are expected to post a loss of $84.3 billion in 2020, IATA noted, adding that government-supplied financial relief is a "lifeline" to many carriers.
Most airlines make their money in the northern summer season, while winter is a struggle to remain profitable in the best of times, IATA said. It cited research conducted in the first week of June that showed travelers displaying increased caution about returning to normal levels of travel. Only 45% said they intend to resume flying within a few months of the pandemic subsiding, while 36% said that they would wait six months. That compares with April of this year, when 61% said that they would return to travel within a few months of the pandemic subsiding, and 21% were planning to wait about six months.
"Airlines in the Northern hemisphere rely on a strong summer season and a predictable booking curve to get them through the lean months," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer. "But neither of these conditions are in place, and airlines will need continued help from governments to survive a hard winter."
The airlines' ability to achieve financial and operational flexibility "equals survival,” he added.
The reopening of stores in the United Kingdom will only provide retailers with a "short-lived" boost, and they will still lose around $46.5 billion this year, according to GlobalData.
Approximately 44.8% of UK consumers have boosted their online purchases during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in an expected increase of 14.3% in online non-food expenditures. But the rise in online spending won't make up for a drop in physical store purchases, which still account for the "vast majority" of total sales, said GlobalData lead analyst Sofie Willmott.
With continuing concerns about financial and physical health, consumers will continue to exercise caution despite the reopening of stores, GlobalData said.
“Clothing is the product area that most visitors are looking forward to shopping for, as they start to anticipate a return to social activities and buy into new season trends," Wilmott added. "However, we expect clothing and footwear to be the worst-hit sectors this year with spend predicted to fall over 30% as shoppers are unlikely to buy more to make up for their lack of purchases across March, April and May.”
Retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 17.7% in May from a month earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported. It was the biggest increase in records dating back to 1992.
Still, retail spending remained below pre-pandemic levels in May, totaling $485.5 billion compared with $527.3 billion in February. From a year earlier, retail sales were down 6.1% in May.
May’s month-over-month jump followed the largest monthly drop on record in April, a revised 14.7% decline.
China’s customs authorities started testing all shipments of imported meat for the coronavirus, while officials in some major cities are also checking the products at domestic markets, after a fresh outbreak of the pathogen was linked to a wholesale seafood and meat market in Beijing, Bloomberg reported.
Port authorities are conducting nucleic acid tests on all shipments of imported meat, said a trading executive with a major supplier, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. Customs officials have also started testing every consignment within shipments, instead of just taking some samples, he said.
Malaysia, a country that produces about 65% of the world’s supply for rubber gloves, now counts at least four billionaires whose fortunes were made in the industry — including two new ones this year alone, according to Bloomberg. Thai Kim Sim of Supermax Corp. was the latest to join the club, with a net worth estimated at about $1 billion.
A jump in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak has propelled shares of companies making protective gear, suddenly turning the Southeast Asian nation into a hotspot for creating ultra-wealthy individuals within the sector. Top Glove Corp., the world’s biggest maker of the product, Hartalega Holdings Bhd. and Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd. have all benefited.
Global demand for rubber gloves could grow 11% to 330 billion pieces this year, two-thirds of which is likely to come from Malaysia, the country’s rubber glove manufacturers association estimates.
Cotton growers are facing a growing supply glut as shoppers are slow to return to stores, threatening to halt a recovery in prices from a decade low, according to Bloomberg.
Companies such Hennes & Mauritz AB are struggling to regain pre-virus sales levels and the owner of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank is mulling bankruptcy protection. China’s retail sales in May fell more than analysts forecast, illustrating the challenge of getting shoppers back to stores as economies reopen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week cut its 2020-2021 world consumption forecast by 1.8%, and raised its estimate for August 2021 global reserves to the second-highest since at least 1960.
Tax collections will fall by more than 30% in at least 10 American states due to COVID-19, Bloomberg reported.
On average, states will suffer a 20% decline in tax revenue, according to a report from researchers at Arizona State and Old Dominion universities. New Jersey and New York have already reported sharp declines, while California is implementing higher taxes on corporations to help deal with the revenue shortfall.
Morgan Stanley economists say the global economy is in a new expansion cycle and output will return to pre-coronavirus crisis levels by the fourth quarter, according to Bloomberg.
“We have greater confidence in our call for a V-shaped recovery, given recent upside surprises in growth data and policy action,” economists led by Chetan Ahya wrote in a mid-year outlook research note.
AstraZeneca Plc says it will provide up to 400 million doses of a vaccine it’s developing with Oxford University to Europe starting at the end of the year, Bloomberg reported. The company said it struck an agreement with the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. It’s reached similar agreements with the U.K., U.S. and global vaccine groups.
Wall Street banks and investors are joining commodity traders in stockpiling aluminum, an unconventional way to make money at a time when returns on bonds are historically low, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The pandemic hit the aluminum market hard by triggering a downturn in the auto and aerospace industries, two big buyers of the metal. A surfeit of metal pushed benchmark aluminum prices down 12% this year, to $1,582 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange.
It also revived interest in hoarding aluminum to sell at a later date, a trade that became controversial after the 2008-09 financial crisis. With metal readily available, the price of buying aluminum has fallen below the cost of paying for the material now and taking delivery later.
At current prices, traders can earn an annualized return of about 2% from stashing aluminum in a warehouse. The trade is particularly popular in Europe and Asia, but less widespread in the U.S. because of tariffs on aluminum imports.
Even as the pandemic continues to hammer global demand for U.S. crude, Buckeye Partners LP expects to start loading ships with oil for export in the second half of July — after receiving crude at its South Texas Gateway terminal in the Port of Corpus Christi about a month earlier than planned, Bloomberg reported.
At least 15 other terminals have started exporting U.S. crude in recent years, encouraged by record shale production and growing demand for barrels in Asia. In April, Mercuria Energy Group-backed Pin Oak Terminals became one of the latest to start exports at its Corpus Christi terminal.
The launch of the Buckeye and Pin Oak terminals at a time like this signals that exporters believe demand will eventually recover, said Pin Oak Chief Executive Corey Leonard. While both projects were under development years before the current health emergency — with shippers, contracts and finance already lined up — they could have deferred their commission by a month or two if market conditions called for it. Instead, they’re pushing ahead.
The U.S. government plans to distribute 96 million cloth face coverings for free to people riding on planes, trains and public transportation systems, Bloomberg reported.
The Transportation Department says it will provide 86.8 million masks to airports and 9.6 million to 458 transit agencies and Amtrak. Most airlines and transit systems already require masks, though enforcement has been spotty.
The Transportation Department is working with the Health and Human Services Department, it said in a press release. The cloth coverings were obtained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be distributed in the coming weeks.
Oil fell the most since late April as economic uneasiness iced U.S. stock markets, threatening to spoil crude’s recovery from a historic drop below zero, Bloomberg reported.
The market is grappling with record high U.S. oil inventories and an uneven demand rebound as signs mount that a second wave of the pandemic could be taking hold in some states. Oil’s recovery has been driven by production cuts and the easing of pandemic-related lockdowns.
The Trump administration is ordering Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. to stop selling unproven or unsafe disinfectants — including products falsely marketed as killing COVID-19, Bloomberg reported.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued orders to the two companies directing them to stop selling or distributing 70 products, including sprays, lanyards and other gear sometimes touted as “preventing epidemics.”
Under the EPA orders, the companies are obligated to take the products off their websites and certify they have done so. Failure to comply with the stop-sale notices could expose the companies to civil penalties of as much as $20,288 per sale.
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits continued to only gradually ease last week despite a stream of business reopenings, underscoring the longer-term labor market challenges, according to Bloomberg.
Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 1.54 million in the week ended June 6, down from 1.9 million in the prior week, Labor Department figures showed. Applications for unemployment insurance have fallen consistently each week since peaking at the end of March, but the volume of weekly filings is still more than double the worst week during the Great Recession.
Brazil, the world’s top coffee producer, registered the lowest monthly exports in almost two years, stoking concerns that global demand may ebb as economies reel from the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. Green-coffee shipments in May fell to 2.68 million bags, down 23% from a year earlier, to the lowest since July 2018.
While the drop in shipments reflects lower output last year, when crops entered the lower yielding half of a biennial cycle, it may also reflect trader caution over demand.
The United Nations says the pandemic has signaled an urgent need to change the way food is produced to help contain hunger and develop environmentally sustainable supplies, Bloomberg reported.
The combined effects of the COVID-19 crisis, government measures and the emerging global recession risk a worldwide food emergency and in the long-term could disrupt how food systems function, the UN said in a policy brief. That could lead to consequences for health and nutrition on a scale not seen for more than half a century, it said.
Import volumes at U.S. containerports in April were higher than the previous month, but still below the levels of last year, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
U.S. ports monitored by the report handled 1.61 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs). That was down 7.8% from a year earlier, but up 17% from a four-year low registered in March, and notably better than the 1.51 million TEUs previously expected.
The report's authors expect to see a similar pattern for each month from May through October — higher volumes than previously forecasted, but less than the same period of 2019. Imports for the six-month period from April through September are expected to total 9.74 million TEUs, a 3% improvement from the 9.46 million TEUs expected a month ago.
“The numbers we’re seeing are still below last year, but are better than what we expected a month ago,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF's Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy. “It may still be too soon to say but we’ll take that as a sign that the situation could be slowly starting to improve. Consumers want to get back to shopping, and as more people get back to work, retailers want to be sure their shelves are stocked.”
Airlines will post a record collective loss this year that will be more than twice that suffered after the 2008 global economic slump, Bloomberg reported. Carriers will lose $84 billion in 2020 and almost $16 billion in 2021, according to the International Air Transport Association, the industry’s main trade group. That compares with a $31 billion loss after the last recession.
As many as 25,000 U.S. stores could close permanently this year after the pandemic devastated an industry where many mall-based retailers were already struggling, Bloomberg reported.
The number would shatter the record set in 2019, when more than 9,800 stores closed their doors for good, according to a report from retail and tech data firm Coresight Research.
A new study finds retailers using inventory as a way to buffer against disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the study, conducted by WMG, The University of Warwick and Blue Yonder, 61% of retailers were relying on inventory for that purpose. Fifty-eight percent said "a high degree" of manual intervention was needed to respond to fluctuations in demand and supply.
“Using inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19 was the most common strategy deployed by retailers," said Jan Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick. "This provides the greatest certainty of supply but comes at a cost. In contrast, only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource-efficient and resilient response."
When it comes to the treatment of suppliers, retailers' behavior varied sharply. Thirty-seven percent were delaying payments to suppliers, and 30% were making early payments.
The survey received responses from 105 retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas.
BYD, a manufacturer of electric vehicles, has begun the reopening of a plant in Los Angeles County with stringent safety protocols for the protection of workers from the COVID-19 virus.
Located in the city of Lancaster, California, the plant makes all-electric transit buses and motor coaches. The phased opening follows guidelines for safe operations set by the state, county and city. They include:
The U.S. meat industry crisis that saw thousands of sick workers, surging prices and grocery-store shortages is leading half of Americans to consider plant-based options, according to new research reported by Bloomberg.
A poll taken By Rethink Priorities in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States at the end of May found that 52% of respondents think the food industry should focus more on meat-free foods to help reduce shortages. The survey of 998 people also found that half of respondents don’t think the meat industry cares about the health of its workers, and 65% don’t think it cares about the treatment of animals.
Plant-based proteins are already seeing a pandemic bump after coronavirus outbreaks forced closures at some of America’s largest packing plants. Soy-based burger maker Impossible Foods Inc. and pea-based meat imitator Beyond Meat Inc. have spread into grocery stores across the U.S., and buying of meat alternatives had tripled from a year earlier in the eight weeks ended April 25, according to Nielsen data.
There will be little change to global supply chains in the aftermath of the coronavirus — at least in the short term — according to Michel Sirat, chief financial officer of the world’s third-largest container company.
Marseille-based CMA CGM expects to see a 15% volume contraction in the second quarter, which will be the lowest point of the year, Sirat told Bloomberg. After that, volumes “should be up in all recovery scenarios.” Any moves to alter supply chains are likely to be slow and customers will continue to buy goods in China post-pandemic, he said.
Sirat was speaking as CMA CGM released first quarter earnings that showed it swung to a net income of $48 million from a $43 million net loss a year earlier. Revenue was $7.19 billion in the first quarter, down 3% compared to the same period of last year, according to a statement. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization jumped 25% to $973 million over the same period, mainly due to cost cutting measures put in place in 2019.
The company recently secured a 1.05 billion euros loan, 70% backed by the French state. The guarantee on the loan came with few conditions apart from a commitment not to issue a dividend this year and to pay suppliers on time, Sirat said.
Two of the drugmakers behind the most prominent responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are looking into the possibility of a combined future as economies emerge from lockdowns, Bloomberg reported.
AstraZeneca Plc, co-developer of one of the fastest-moving experimental vaccines, has made a preliminary approach to Gilead Sciences Inc., maker of the only U.S.-approved treatment, according to people familiar with the matter. If they decided to pursue a merger, it would be the biggest deal ever in the sector.
The mere suggestion of a blockbuster merger is a sign the industry is getting back to something resembling business as usual. Even successful COVID-19 treatments or vaccines are unlikely to be big moneymakers, meaning drugmakers face the return of old pressures to gain scale and boost innovation, or risk becoming targets.
President Trump said he’ll ask Congress to pass more economic stimulus, including a payroll tax cut, even after the government reported a surprise improvement in U.S. unemployment on Friday, Bloomberg reported.
“We’ll be asking for additional stimulus money because once we get this going it’ll be far bigger and far better than we’ve ever seen in this country, that includes as of three or for months ago,” Trump said in remarks at the White House to celebrate the jobs report.
House Democrats passed an additional $3.5 trillion stimulus bill last month, aimed largely at assisting states and hospitals battered by the coronavirus outbreak. But Republicans controlling the Senate have rejected that proposal and plan to wait until late July before considering their own alternative.
America’s labor market unexpectedly rebounded in May, signaling that the economy is picking up faster than thought from the depths of the pandemic-induced slump, Bloomberg reported.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 2.5 million after a 20.7 million tumble the prior month that was the largest in records back to 1939. The jobless rate fell to 13.3% from 14.7%.
Freight moving from the U.S. into Mexico is experiencing lengthy delays due to the coronavirus pandemic at one crossing, but shorter-than-usual transit times at another, according to Nuvocargo, a digital freight forwarder and customs broker.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the crossing from Mexico to the U.S. at Santa Teresa, New Mexico typically took about 15 mins. Now the wait can range from one to four hours, Nuvocargo said.
On the other hand, it said, the crossing from Mexico to the U.S. at Laredo, Texas is currently taking between one and a half and two hours, versus two to three hours before the pandemic. The speedup is the result of a drop in traffic at that busy crossing, from around 12,000 vehicles per day to just 4,000.
A manufacturer of hand sanitizer is experiencing northbound border inspections averaging six hours, versus about three hours previously. "In addition, [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] releases are sometimes taking days, when they used to take no more than 24 hours, because border inspections for medical supplies are much more thorough than they used to be," Nuvocargo said.
The company added that its closest trucker partners in Mexico have had to furlough or terminate nearly half of their drivers, and have cut salaries for administrative staff by 50 percent.
The health of logistics workers is being endangered by inadequate sick leave and other employer policies, a new report from Quinyx finds.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, 78% of logistics workers came to work sick, said Quinyx, a provider of workforce-management software. During the pandemic, the number was still significantly high — around 14%.
The reason, the company said, was a lack of alternatives. Just 6% of the surveyed logistics workers have paid sick time. And 29% believe that taking more than one consecutive sick day is a fireable offense.
The survey revealed deep dissatisfaction by workers about their employers' labor policies. Half said they don't feel valued by their companies, and 61% have considered leaving their jobs.
A third of respondents said they failed to receive adequate training by employers on how to do their jobs effectively during the pandemic.
The European Central Bank has unveiled a new €600 billion ($677 billion) bond buying program, in a larger expansion of stimulus measures than many investors had expected, the Guardian reported.
Purchases will continue until the end of June 2021, the ECB said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services introduced new guidance to provide a better picture of COVID-19 testing efforts, particularly in terms of race, gender and ZIP code.
The quality of government data has been faulted for months, Bloomberg reported, particularly as evidence emerges that minority communities have been affected the most by the virus. The new guidance standardizes reporting of test data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including on fields such as gender and type of test performed. Laboratories must comply by Aug. 1.
Brett Giroir, a top HHS official who oversees testing efforts, said that “most of these fields are not reported at all by hospital labs and rarely by large commercial labs,” which have performed the bulk of the U.S. testing.
A group of Amazon.com Inc. warehouse employees sued the online retail giant, claiming its working conditions put not only them at risk of contracting the coronavirus but also their family members, including one who died, Bloomberg reported.
Employees “were explicitly or implicitly encouraged to continue attending work and prevented from adequately washing their hands or sanitizing their workstations,” the lawsuit says. Within a month, a plaintiff’s cousin, whom she lived with, died after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The suggestion that working conditions at the facility contributed to a specific third-party death distinguishes Wednesday’s lawsuit from other coronavirus-related complaints filed against Amazon in recent months.
A new survey of human-resource leaders by The Conference Board finds 77% of respondents expecting a shift toward more teleworking, even a full year after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
The Conference Board surveyed more than 150 H.R. managers, mostly from large American companies. They foresaw more employees working from home at least three days a week. The percentage was highest in professional and office workplaces, and somewhat lower in industrial and manual services.
Thirty-seven percent of companies with a larger number of remote workers before COVID-19 said they were seeing increased employee productivity now.
"A shift toward more remote working will have major implications for H.R. departments,” said Robin Erickson, principal researcher with The Conference Board. “Among other changes, they will be able to recruit workers from a broader geographic pool and will need to hire and promote those who can inspire remote teams.”
In the months ahead, companies relying on industrial and manual-services workers are far more likely to implement furloughs with benefits, conduct permanent layoffs, require employees to use paid vacation or time off, and cut wages, the survey also found.
The global merchant fleet is likely to experience a widening shortfall of officers to crew its ships, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd.
The crisis is likely to occur despite the worldwide dampening of demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Drewry said. "This is due to the reduced attractiveness of a career at sea and rising man-berth ratios which will inflate future manning costs."
Drewry's latest Manning Annual Review and Forecast estimates a global officer shortage equating to around 2% of overall demand, "though presently this is masked by the temporary idling of vessels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, once the merchant fleet is fully reactivated, this shortfall will re-emerge and represent a tightening of supply conditions compared to 2019 when the market was estimated to be in broad balance."
"Seafaring is no longer the attractive occupation it once was, as competition from shore-based roles intensifies and the lifestyle with its associated mental health challenges becomes less appealing,” said Drewry’s senior manning analyst Rhett Harris. “The COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a further blow to the occupation’s reputation with high profile news stories of stranded crews and enforced longer tours of duty.”
The White House is working with seven pharmaceutical companies as part of its “Warp Speed” coronavirus vaccine program. They include Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., and the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca Plc, as well as two other firms, according to Bloomberg.
Operation Warp Speed seeks to compress a vaccine process that is typically years long into a matter of months, in part by spending as much as $10 billion on research, manufacturing and agreements to guarantee purchase of the vaccines.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition agreed to a 130 billion-euro ($146 billion) stimulus package to help Europe’s biggest economy recover from the coronavirus crisis, Bloomberg reported. The deal includes tax relief for companies, money for families, car-sales incentives and aid to municipalities.
Demand for global air freight plummeted 27.7% in April from the same period of 2019, but there still wasn't enough capacity to meet it, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Global air freight capacity, measured in available cargo ton kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 42% in April compared to the previous year, IATA said.
The industry's cargo load factor (CLF) was up 11.5 percentage points in April, the largest increase since tracking began. "The magnitude of the rise suggests that there is significant demand for air cargo which cannot be met owing to the cessation of most passenger flights," IATA noted.
"The result is damaging global supply chains with longer shipping times and higher costs," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. "Airlines are deploying as much capacity as possible, including special charter operations and the temporary use of passenger cabins for cargo. Governments need to continue to ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient."
De Juniac said government red tape, in the form of permitting delays, border blockages and inadequate ground infrastructure, "is preventing the industry from flexibly deploying aircraft to meet the demands of the pandemic and the global economy." The problem is especially acute in Africa and Latin America, he added.
In a new survey of flower and garden retailers from 27 countries, 71% believe that growers will "soon" recover following the coronavirus pandemic.
That finding contrasts sharply with the outlook of the previous survey, in which 70% of respondents said they expected to see many growers go out of business by the end of 2020. The surveys were conducted by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and FloraCulture International (FCI).
Most countries in the survey have re-opened garden centers (96%) and florist shops (85%), in many instances ahead of other retail outlets. "This recognition of garden retailers as an ‘essential’ service and a safer shopping environment is a great boost for the industry," AIPH commented.
Seventy-eight percent of garden retailers still expect this year's sales figures to be worse than last year. At the same time, 46% anticipate that demand for plants and flowers in the weeks ahead to be higher than in the previous year. "There is a clear sense of optimism for the future coming through the responses, as many are hoping to claw back at least some of the sales lost during this time," AIPH said.
Tyson Foods said it would resume limited production on June 3 at an Iowa plant that had an outbreak of the coronavirus, according to a statement.
At the Storm Lake plant, 591 workers tested positive out of 2,303 that were tested, the company announced Tuesday. More than 75% of the positive cases are asymptomatic.
Separately, at the company’s Council Bluffs plant, 224 tested positive out of its 1,483 employees.
The head of Qatar Airways called on the world’s two major planemakers to ease demands that ailing carriers accept delivery of new aircraft, Bloomberg reported, saying their future relationship was at stake.
Airbus SE and Boeing Co. should accept delivery deferrals until at least 2022, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg TV.
“What is important is for Boeing and Airbus to show their customers that they are not only there with them in good times, but also in bad times,” Al Baker said. “If they don’t oblige, they will permanently lose us as a customer.”
Workers at U.S. ports and in related maritime transportation roles are scheduled this week to begin receiving federal shipments of 2.4 million reusable cloth face masks.
The masks will be distributed to an estimated 400 maritime transportation entities nationwide, including coastal and inland ports, marine terminals, tug and barge lines, vessel pilots, dredging operations and logistics providers. They are part of an effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to keep essential businesses working during the coronavirus pandemic. Other federal agencies involved in the project included the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) and Department of Homeland Security’s Maritime Sector Coordinating Council (MSCC) Task Force.
The American Association of Port Authorities advocated for distribution of the protective gear to maritime workers. The group is also pushing for passage of S. 3728, the Critical Infrastructure Employee Protection Act of 2020, which would include the maritime sector as a priority group for the next allocation of personal protection equipment (PPE).
The Universal Postal Union has released a report of “near-future scenarios” for the sector, in order to provide policymakers and postal operators with insights and suggestions on the way forward.
International postal supply chains are feeling unprecedented pressure, the group says, with cross-border exchanges decreasing 21% between late January and mid May compared to the same period last year.
Half of U.S. businesses say they’ll be making supply-chain changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by standards body BSI Group. The majority of the 800 respondents began to feel the impact in March.
About 30% of respondents say that at least 10% and up to 50% of their workforce will remain working remotely after the pandemic — with 25% of respondents citing employee safety as their top concern.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents called their businesses “well prepared,” but most rated their preparedness for supply-chain disruptions about average. More than a third had no business continuity plan in place.
Top Airbus SE executives are planning to assess additional measures that may be necessary to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reported. Among the topics to be discussed at a meeting this week are production rates for the plane-maker’s top-selling A320-series narrow-body jet.
Airbus slashed output by about a third in April to cope with cratered demand from airlines that have parked planes because of the virus. At the time, the planemaker said it would aim to produce 40 of the single-aisle A320s per month, and reassess once it determined whether the recovery was “V-shaped” or “L-shaped.”
China will supply millions of coronavirus test kits and masks to Africa to help the continent deal with the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.
African nations have 142,289 cases of COVID-19, with 4,084 deaths from the disease, according to data from the Africa Centre for Disease Control & Prevention. The continent has experienced shortages of diagnostic equipment and therapeutic medical supplies.
China will ship as many as 30 million test kits, 10,000 ventilators and 80 million masks a month to Africa, said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. He held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping about securing the supplies last week.
President Trump said the U.S. will sever ties with the World Health Organization, the United Nations body he accuses of failing to provide accurate information on the spread of the coronavirus that broke out in China, Bloomberg reported.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent global health needs,” Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House. “The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency.”
The U.S. contributes more than $450 million to the WHO, Trump said.
Investors think Moderna Inc.’s experimental COVID-19 inoculation wouldn’t be enough to unlock the economy, Bloomberg reported. An Evercore ISI survey of over 100 investors — more than half of whom specialize in health care — found there’s a 43% probability that Moderna’s vaccine would be sufficient to set the U.S. economy alight, analyst Joshua Schimmer wrote in a note. Still, a majority expect the next update on mRNA-1273 will be positive and predicted emergency use authorization will be granted in the fourth quarter and regulatory approval in 2021.
U.S. consumer spending plunged in April by the most on record after the pandemic halted purchases of all but the most essential goods and services, Bloomberg reported.
Household outlays fell 13.6% from the prior month, the sharpest drop in Commerce Department records back to 1959. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 12.8% decline.
Ocean freight rates for containerized goods held relatively steady in May, defying analysts' expectations of a severe drop, according to Xeneta.
The company's XSI Public Indices Report showed only a 1.2% decline in long-term contracted ocean freight rates in May, despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. That follows an increase of 0.7% in April.
Xeneta attributed the April rise, following a decline of 0.5% in March, to "proactive strategies" of containership operators, including the withdrawal of selected capacity from the trades and numerous cancelled sailings.
"That approach continues to mitigate damage, while the gradual opening of national economies is giving some room for optimism," said Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund.
“Given the debilitating effects of the pandemic on global economic activity, there may have been a belief that rates would freefall, but not so,” Berglund said. “Owners have been quick to remove surplus capacity and as some, particularly European, countries cautiously reopen, we’re seeing carriers, such as those in THE Alliance [Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming, and Ocean Express Network], announce plans to reinstate sailings."
The company crowdsources its data from major shippers and covers more than 160,000 port-to-port pairings.
The House voted Thursday to give small businesses financially strapped by the COVID-19 crisis more flexibility to spend forgivable loans for payrolls and expenses from the government’s popular Paycheck Protection Program, Bloomberg reported.
The 417-1 vote sends the measure to the Senate, which may seek changes. The bill’s sponsors say urgent action is needed because the eight-week period when proceeds must be spent for loans to be forgiven will begin expiring Friday for the first loan recipients after the Small Business Administration program opened April 3.
The House measure would give companies much more time to spend the money — within 24 weeks or until the end of the year, whichever comes first — and still qualify to have their PPP loans forgiven. Businesses would also have up to five years, instead of two years, to repay any money owed on a loan and could use a greater percentage of proceeds on rent and other approved non-payroll expenses.
U.S. states’ jobless rolls shrank for the first time during the pandemic in a sign people are starting to return to work, even as millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits, Bloomberg reported.
Continuing claims, which tally Americans’ ongoing benefits in state programs, fell to 21.1 million for the week ended May 16, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 2.12 million in the week ended May 23, to bring the 2 1/2-month total above 40 million.
Separate data showed that U.S. orders for durable goods sank sharply for a second month in April as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the manufacturing industry.
Cumulative fiscal response to the coronavirus pandemic from G20 member states has reached more than $4.68 trillion, according to data gathered and calculated by Buyshares.co.uk.
Japan has had the highest fiscal response at $996.45 billion — 19.5% of the country’s 2019 gross domestic product. The United States has the second-highest response at $562.1 billion — about 11% of the country’s GDP. The next highest are Australia, Canada and Brazil, while Mexico and South Africa are lowest — both at less than 1% of their GDPs.
Ten corporations that agreed to a total of $56 million in civil penalties for allegedly breaking environmental laws are not being required to make payments under a pause granted by the U.S. government, the Guardian reported.
The companies polluted air and water, including in communities already vulnerable to toxic pollution like East Chicago, Indiana, according to legal proceedings.
The companies will not be required to pay penalties before June 1, although they have the option to do so.
Demand shortages have put pressure on farmers in coffee-producing countries, especially growers and small roasters within the $18-billion-a-year industry, according to Modern Farmer.
Latin American producers, who grow much of the beans imported to America, have been battling the environmental impacts of climate change and coffee rust for years, but now COVID-19 is disrupting supply chains and endangering the American coffee imports they rely on.
While large coffee houses like Maxwell House and Folgers can weather small rises in production costs or a short lack of demand, the lack of demand might not only sink small specialty coffee importers and roasters, but irreversibly impact the communities that grow high-end beans.
Additionally, labor to harvest coffee beans has been reduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Colombian coffee production was down 28 percent last month compared to April 2019.
Philippine Central Bank Governor Benjamin Diokno says the nation can benefit from disruption to global supply chains caused by COVID-19, and has called on the government to do more to attract foreign investors, according to Bloomberg.
The Philippines, which is primarily linked to global networks through electronics and machinery exports, has an opportunity as the pandemic prompts countries to redirect trade and relocate production, Diokno said in a statement.
“In the long run, the escalation of the U.S.-China trade war and the coronavirus pandemic could have a positive impact on the Philippine economy,” Diokno said, adding that both events could prompt firms to cut dependence on any single country.
Global container-port throughput "bounced back" in March, following a steep decline in February caused by a combination of the Chinese New Year and the coronavirus outbreak, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants Limited.
Comparing March activity to January, 2012, with a base of 100 points, Drewry reported a increase to 124.5 points for the month, following a 20-point decline in February. Nevertheless, the level was still six points lower than in March of 2019.
Of all regions, China saw the largest monthly growth of more than 40 points in March, 2020, a 44.3% increase. But that was around 7.3 points (5.2%) lower than in March, 2019.
"A proportion of this gain can be attributed to ports handling the backlog of cargo that had been held up in February, but by late March, 2020, Chinese factories were re-opening," Drewry noted.
The North America throughput index further declined by 5.5 points (4.5%) in March, following a steep fall in February. The index was 18 points lower (13.4%) than in March, 2019.
Drewry's index sampled activity at 220 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes.
Load volumes are up and freight delays down across the nation, according to new data from FourKites.
As panic buying abates, dwell times for freight at key points around the country are shrinking by 10% to 20%, FourKites reported. Meanwhile, aggregate load volumes are up 10% over the past four weeks.
"As the shopping frenzy has slowed and congestion at facilities has let up, operators have had a chance to reset, adjust to the new normal and create efficiencies at the site level," said FourKites chief technology officer Vivek Vaid. "This includes improving the check-in process, instituting measures to ensure social distancing/driver safety, and using technology to manage critical appointments and enhance collaboration between carriers, drivers and vendors."
FourKites expressed confidence that load volumes will continue to climb steadily, "though at what pace is very much uncertain — especially in light of U.S. states beginning to lift shelter-in-place restrictions that were put i place in March," Vaid said.
The British International Freight Association, representing U.K. freight forwarders, is urging an extension of the transition period for the country to leave the European Union.
BIFA cited the coronavirus pandemic as a contributing factor to a shortage of trained U.K. customs officials that would need to be in place in order for the transition to be completed by the start of 2021.
The group said the majority of its members support an extension of the transition period if the U.K. and EU are unable to agree on the details of the withdrawal by December 31.
BIFA director general Robert Keen called the group's statement “a clear message to Government that BIFA members and the clients that they serve have great reservations over whether they will have the capacity to handle the major changes to the U.K.’s trading relationship at the start of 2021, such as new customs documentation and procedures.”
Half of respondents to a BIFA survey said they lack the staff needed to undertake required customs-related work after January 1, while 60% said they didn't have sufficient time to train new recruits.
“With very little progress to date on key negotiating points in the formal talks, and with many of the civil service resources previously assigned to support negotiations reallocated to deal with the coronavirus emergency response, it would be very risky and unwise not to seek an extension," Keen said.
The Trump administration has released coronavirus testing targets for May, an aggressive expansion that would have some states doubling, quadrupling and even, in the case of Puerto Rico, completing 5.6 times the number they had done through late April, according to Bloomberg.
The White House announced on May 11 that states had set the goals in partnership with the Trump administration, but didn’t release specifics. The breakdown of targets by state was released Sunday as part of a testing plan outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a report to Congress.
The HHS plan calls for about 12.9 million tests this month. States are nearly two-thirds of the way to meeting that goal, with roughly 8.3 million administered as of Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer initiative to track virus data.
Apple Inc. will reopen about 100 more retail stores in the U.S. this week, with more than half offering curbside pick-up service only, Bloomberg reported. The move adds to about 30 U.S. store reopenings from earlier this month. The company has about 270 retail locations in the U.S.
Stores that let customers inside require temperature checks, social distancing and masks, Apple has said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for new power lines from upstate and Canada to reinvigorate the state’s ravaged economy and promote clean energy, Bloomberg reported.
The plan includes installing cables to bring wind and solar power down from the state’s rural regions to New York City and its suburbs, Cuomo said Tuesday during a news conference. He’s also seeking to expedite a plan to deliver hydropower from Canada through a transmission project that’s been in the works for years.
The proposals come as coronavirus cases are slowing in New York, prompting calls to revive the economy in the state hit hardest by the virus. Cuomo said that investing now in major infrastructure projects, including energy and transportation, would accelerate economic growth.
Brazil, the biggest exporter of beef and chicken, plans to introduce new safety standards to avoid the kind of mass processing disruptions that caused meat shortages and price spikes in America, Bloomberg reported.
The national guidelines will incorporate requirements from local authorities and labor prosecutors, Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said in an interview. Until now, the industry has been operating under protocols set with the federal government.
While the Brazilian industry has avoided major disruptions so far, prosecutors and local authorities have halted a handful of facilities over safety concerns. On Monday, Marfrig Global Foods SA said 25 workers at a plant in Mato Grosso state tested positive and at least one died.
A meatpacking supply-chain rupture would hurt local consumers at a time that Brazil becomes the new global virus hotspot. It could also tighten supplies in global poultry and beef markets.
Transportation carriers, shippers and brokers are seeing signs of possible "normalization" in the industry, according to the latest COVID-19 survey from Morgan Stanley Research.
The new survey of 400 companies suggests that "we are turning the corner," Morgan Stanley said, while being careful to stress that the gains in confidence are small, and that "we are by no means out of the woods yet."
Approximately 86% of all respondents said the current impact and intensity of the coronavirus pandemic remains elevated, a decrease of around 1% from two weeks earlier.
Those seeing a "High" impact now account for just 39% of all responses, versus 46% in the prior update. Expectations also improved slightly for the coming 12 months.
"This could be our most stable update since conducting this survey," Morgan Stanley said, adding that "signs point to the market beginning to enter a new normal."
A new report from Forter has revealed a significant increase in attempted e-commerce fraud against retailers during the month of May.
In its latest report on e-commerce trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, Forter noted a 179% rise in attempted account-takeover attacks during the month. In addition, it identified an increase in the sophistication of various types of fraud, including policy and promotional abuse, loyalty and gift-card fraud, and buyer-seller collusion. Incidents of returns abuse, by contrast, were down 22%, although the firm said it expects an increase in that activity as well, as merchants extend returns policies amid the virus outbreak.
"With the surge of new consumer traffic, fraudsters are looking to exploit vulnerable touchpoints where security and fraud prevention aren’t as robust," Forter said.
The COVID-19 report also identifies select product categories that saw a marked rise in transaction volume during the month, including grocery and delivery (up 236%), beauty and personal care (235%), eyewear (648%) and jewelry (17%).
The report covers only consumer buying patterns in digital channels. "Although some industries — including food and beverage and grocery and delivery — are indeed seeing increases in online purchasing volumes, these spikes in activity do not necessarily offset the very real pains they are feeling due to the closures of their brick-and-mortar locations," Forter said.
A backlog of grain is almost gone from farms on Canada’s Prairies after the coronavirus outbreak damped demand for rail transport of goods from sectors including manufacturing and construction, Bloomberg reported.
Railways handled record-high volumes of wheat, canaola and other crops, according to the Western Grain Elevator Association. Exports are surging through the Port of Thunder Bay, and the number of ships waiting for grain in Vancouver has tumbled 43% from a peak in March.
In early March, grain shipments to ports trailed year-earlier volume by more than 1 million metric tons after rail blockades in protest of TC Energy Corp.’s planned Coastal GasLink project. The delays added to a backlog of crops stuck in the Prairies stemming from a late harvest and a week-long strike at Canadian National Railway Co. in November. Farm analysts had anticipated the backlog would take six months to clear.
Shopify Inc. will allow its 5,000 employees to work from home indefinitely, according to Bloomberg. The Canadian e-commerce giant plans to keep its offices largely closed for the rest of the year as it re-designs its space and adjusts to a remote work environment. Offices will be limited to 20% to 25% capacity after that.
CEO Tobi Lutke said he would “absolutely” feel comfortable allowing Shopify employees to work from home permanently. That follows a similar plan from Twitter Inc. last week. Banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and are also reducing office capacity, at least in the short-term, as they try to maintain physical distancing in the wake of the pandemic.
Apple and Google have released long-awaited smartphone technology to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, The Guardian reported.
The companies announced the unprecedented collaboration last month, and say 22 countries and several U.S. states are already planning to build voluntary phone apps using their software.
The software relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus.
An architect of the small-business Paycheck Protection Program is pushing for a quick Senate vote on extending the program Thursday before the chamber leaves for a Memorial Day recess, Bloomberg reported.
Senator Marco Rubio, chairman of the Small Business Committee, said he is “increasingly optimistic” there will be bipartisan support to lengthen the current eight-week time period during which businesses must use the loan money to pay employees and for other expenses to have the loan forgiven.
The Senate may vote Thursday on such a change by unanimous consent, which allows expedited consideration of legislation, according to a person familiar with the plans. The length of the extension hasn’t yet been determined, but Rubio said in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday that he expected to pass a measure extending the loan-forgiveness period to as many as 16 weeks.
A potential $1 trillion could be lost from global growth as female workers fall out of the workforce during the coronavirus, according to Bloomberg.
Of 44 million workers in vulnerable sectors, about 31 million female workers face potential job cuts compared to 13 million men, underscoring that women globally are more vulnerable to losing their jobs during the crisis, says a new analysis by Citigroup Inc. The assessment excludes China, with the figure likely to be higher if the world’s second-largest economy was included.
Citi estimates more than 220 million women are in sectors vulnerable to job cuts amid the pandemic. If approximately 31 million women in six key sectors lost their jobs, that could mean an equivalent loss to real global GDP of as much as $1 trillion.
U.S. air pollution declines aren't nearly as large as early indications suggested, according to an NPR analysis of six years of Environmental Protection Agency data.
In some cities, the amount of one pollutant, ozone, has barely decreased compared with levels over the past five years, despite traffic reductions of more than 40%. Ground-level ozone, or smog, occurs when the chemicals emitted by cars, trucks, factories and other sources react with sunlight and heat.
NPR analyzed more than half a million air pollution measurements reported to the EPA from more than 900 air monitoring sites around the country. In most places, ozone pollution decreased by 15% or less — an indication that improving air quality will take much more than cleaning up tailpipes of passenger cars.
U.S. retail sales could be down at least 6.5% this year, according to new estimates reported by CNBC — nearly three times the 2.2% sales drop in 2009 after the Great Recession.
Companies expected to struggle the most include apparel retailers, department store operators, luxury chains and direct-to-consumer brands, according to market research group Euromonitor. J.C. Penney, J.Crew and Neiman Marcus have already filed for bankruptcy.
Consumer spending tumbled a record 16.4% in April, according to a government report. Clothing stores took the biggest hit, with sales down 78.8%.
A plan to euthanize up to 10 million pigs by mid-September has been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a letter to the National Pork Producers Council.
The letter responded to NPPC's request for the division to look over its plan and ensure it was in compliance with antitrust regulation. As a result of capacity restrictions at pork packing plants, euthanizing potentially 700,000 hogs per week "will be unavoidable" and a coordinated industry response is necessary to ethically euthanize as few as possible, NPPC said.
Producers are now permitted to "work at the direction of the USDA and state agriculture agencies to achieve humane and efficient euthanization of hogs that have grown too large to be processed and are thus unmarketable," the DOJ said.
U.S. lawmakers and officials are crafting proposals to push American companies to move operations or key suppliers out of China that include tax breaks, new rules and carefully structured subsidies, according to Reuters.
Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials, industry executives and members of Congress show widespread discussions underway — including the idea of a “reshoring fund” originally stocked with $25 billion. No lawmaker has publicly embraced the fund, but several congressional aides acknowledged it is part of the broader discussion in Congress.
Both Republicans and Democrats are crafting bills to decrease U.S. reliance on China-made products, which accounted for some 18% of overall imports in 2019. Lawmakers also hope to include reshoring provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Pentagon that Congress passes every year.
The International Air Transport Association has proposed a detailed "layered" approach for restarting passenger flights following the COVID-19 crisis.
The report specifies implementation of a series of temporary biosecurity measures, from pre-flight through arrival at destination airports.
IATA said it foresees the need for governments to collect passenger health data in advance of travel. Measures proposed at the departure airport include temperature screening, physical distancing, face coverings, and sanitization of high-touch areas.
On the plane, IATA calls for face coverings, scaled-back cabin service, deep cleaning of the cabin, and restrictions on congregating while in flight.
At the arrival airport, passengers would encounter temperature screenings, automated customs processing, health declarations, and contact tracing.
This is the greatest crisis that aviation has ever faced," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer. "A layered approach has worked with safety and with security. It’s the way forward for biosecurity as well.”
The restructuring of supply chains in response to the coronavirus pandemic will spur demand for 400 to 500 million additional square feet of industrial distribution space, according to CBRE Group, Inc.
In a new report, CBRE said businesses will seek additional warehouse space for inventory to guard against potential severe disruptions in the future.
As a result, "the downward trend in inventory-to-sales ratios since the early 1990s could reverse as manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers store materials and products closer to manufacturing centers and consumers," CBRE said.
The projection of additional warehousing requirements assumes a 5% increase in business inventories. In addition, CBRE said, it's likely that businesses will be looking to position inventories closer to consumer and manufacturing locations, which will in turn drive demand for more space.
Markets with easy access to seaports could find themselves with limited space options, CBRE said. "This likely will benefit inland hub markets, including the Inland Empire, Atlanta, Pennsylvania I-78/81 Corridor, Memphis, FL I-4 Corridor, Greenville and Central Valley, CA."
Domestic sales of durum wheat are up 25% this year, as consumer buying behavior shifts in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Columbia Grain International.
Consumers are stocking up on high-quality semolina pasta as lockdowns continue, the company reported. The trend reflects an increase in purchases of shelf-stable items, with buyers looking to economize in a time of high unemployment and shut-down businesses.
“The pandemic has inspired Americans to try new things and make changes to their dietary habits and eating patterns,” said Kurt Haarmann, Senior Vice President of Grains and Oilseeds for Columbia Grain International. “Consumers are stocking up on pasta to cook at home in new and different ways, and the longer the stay-at-home orders last, the longer term that trend will be.”
The demand spike for dried pasta and noodles has also boosted demand for wheat, causing wheat prices to rise across the U.S. and Europe, Columbia Grain said.
The company said it was uncertain whether wheat sales will remain at current levels through the rest of this year. But with the meat industry continuing to suffer from plant shutdowns, affecting the availability and price of meat, Columbia Grain predicted that consumer spending on plant-based proteins and wheat-based pastas will rise.
Five Chicago-area McDonald’s employees have sued the restaurant chain, claiming they are being forced to work “in close proximity” to potentially infected co-workers and customers, and that McDonald’s and its franchise restaurants “are failing to take important steps to contain the virus, such as providing adequate protective equipment, hand sanitizer, and safety training for employees, or enforcing safety protocols,” Bloomberg reported.
McDonald’s managers have told workers to reuse gloves, accused employees of trying to steal gloves, and claimed that there’s no need to physically distance if they restrict contact with others to under 10 minutes, according to the lawsuit. The workers, who are seeking class-action status for their claims, say the company’s actions violate state nuisance and negligence laws.
McDonald’s said in a statement that it has updated nearly 50 safety procedures, including “wellness checks, protective barriers, adhering to social-distancing guidelines for customers and crew, using gloves and masks, increasing the frequency of hand washing and moving to contactless operations.”
President Trump announced rules for a $19 billion coronavirus farm aid package, Bloomberg reported, covering a broad swath of U.S. agriculture that producers can begin claiming by next week.
Farmers who suffered a 5% or greater price loss will be eligible for direct payments of as much as $250,000 per person, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic has pummeled farmers, already struggling from years of depressed prices amid a global commodity glut and the president’s trade war with China. Dairy farmers have been dumping milk they cannot sell. Hog farmers have been forced to destroy market-ready animals and leave them in compost heaps as slaughterhouses closed or slowed production because of employee illness.
U.S. factory production plummeted in April by the most in records back to 1919, Bloomberg reported. Output slumped 13.7% from the prior month after a revised 5.5% decrease in March, Federal Reserve data showed, and overall industrial production dropped 11.2%.
Manufacturers in the U.S. were among the first to experience the pandemic’s economic drag as producers fell victim to supply-chain disruptions, a severe weakening in exports market and a drop in domestic demand.
The Fed’s report also showed capacity utilization, which measures the amount of a plant in use, slid to 64.9%, the lowest in records back to 1967. At manufacturers alone, utilization dropped to 61.1%, an all-time low in data to 1948.
The industrial production report traces its roots back to the Woodrow Wilson administration. In 1919, when the nation was transitioning to a peacetime economy after World War I, the Fed began publishing monthly production data for a variety of goods. Three years later, it developed indexes of industrial activity within manufacturing, mining and agriculture.
The Fed said the production indexes were adjusted to account for the output of ventilators at motor vehicle assembly plants. Some car parts manufacturers are making ventilators at previously idled plants, the report said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to support a 500 billion-euro ($546 billion) aid package to help the European Union recover from the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reported.
The proposal marks a significant step in efforts to shore up the European project and a potential win for Macron, who’s been calling for Germany and the richer northern states to do more to help those in the South who’ve suffered most. The sums involved would dwarf the commission’s existing debt issuance, a sign of Merkel’s determination to keep the EU together.
A final deal will need the backing of all 27 members. The European Commission is expected to submit its proposal May 27.
An experimental vaccine from Moderna Inc. showed promising early signs that it can create an immune-system response in the body that could help fend off the virus, according to Bloomberg.
The first human trial was primarily designed to look at the safety of the shot and showed no major warning signs in a small phase 1 trial, the company said in a statement Monday. The trial is being run with the U.S. government, and Moderna plans to continue advancing it to wider testing.
President Xi Jinping says China will make its coronavirus vaccine a global public good once one is available, Bloomberg reported.
Xi’s comments come amid growing concern that countries will put national interests first in the quest for a virus. The World Health Organization is pushing a proposal that aims to ensure broad access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines while offering an appropriate reward to creators.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a Digital Resources Center, to guide employers in reopening their businesses in a safe and sustainable manner, as they emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown.
Elements of the new center include a six-question sample questionnaire for employee screening, a four-page small-business reopening playbook, a compilation of industry-specific guides to reopening, and state-specific health guidelines.
"The Chamber’s new resource center will help businesses as they prepare for a new normal, and how our nation’s public and private sectors manage this transition will determine how quickly we can stage an economic comeback," said U.S. Chamber president Suzanne Clark.
The Chamber said it will routinely update the resources as additional guidance and information become available.
Global trade levels will experience a quarter-on-quarter decline of 27% in the second quarter of this year, according to projections by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The coronavirus pandemic was responsible for a 3% drop in global trade in the first quarter, according to UNCTAD data included in a joint report by 36 international organizations.
The report says the drop in global trade is being accompanied by sharp decreases in commodity prices, which have "fallen precipitously" since last December.
UNCTAD cited plummeting fuel prices, down 33.2% in March, as the main reason for the overall decline. Prices of minerals, ores, metals, food and agricultural raw materials dropped by less than 4% in that same month.
President Trump’s administration plans to keep 90 days of medical supplies in the national stockpile to help gird against future flare-ups of the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. starts to reopen, Bloomberg reported.
In addition to bolstering the federal storehouse of crucial supplies like ventilators and respirator masks, the president’s plan — being billed as the Strategic National Stockpile 2.0 — calls for entering into contracts with companies to maintain a flow into the stockpiles, similar to the way the Defense Department manages its supply chains, according to senior administration officials.
The stockpile will also include testing supplies that weren’t maintained in the past.
Under the new system, the government will collect information on the manufacturing of supplies, what hospitals have available on their shelves and how quickly hospitals are using supplies, officials said.
Amazon.com is mass-producing face shields for healthcare workers using engineering tools and expertise borrowed from its drone unit, Bloomberg reported.
The company says it will sell the face shields on its website at cost, at a price to be announced, starting “in the next few weeks.” Amazon has already given some 10,000 units of its newly designed face shields to healthcare organizations and plans to donate an additional 20,000, according to a company blog post.
The products are being built at Amazon’s drone engineering facilities in Washington state — using a machine that normally cuts carbon fiber for drone parts to slice screens for the face shields — as well as by contract manufacturers elsewhere.
The designs, which Amazon is giving away for free, are based on work by a 3-D printing hobbyist group in Washington. They have been approved by the National Institutes of Health.
President Trump has extended for another year an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk, Reuters reported. The order invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the U.S.
Lawmakers said Trump’s 2019 order was aimed squarely at Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp.
The department has issued a series of extensions of the temporary license and previously extended it until April 1. Huawei, the second-largest maker of smartphones, is also a major telecoms equipment company that provides 5G network technology.
Since adding Huawei to an economic blacklist in May 2019, citing national security concerns, the Commerce Department has allowed it to purchase some U.S.-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers, many of which operate wireless networks in rural America.
A fourth U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety inspector has died from COVID-19, according to Bloomberg, amid an outbreak of the virus in the nation’s meat processors.
The inspector was located in Dodge City, Kansas. The USDA confirmed the death in a statement Thursday without addressing the cause.
Union officials have criticized the department for providing inadequate protection to inspectors as coronavirus swept through the nation’s meatpacking plants. Inspectors in early April were left to buy their own masks. The department now has enough face masks to provide them for all inspectors, said a USDA official.
As of Tuesday, 123 USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service employees were under self-quarantine due to coronavirus exposure and another 171 field employees were absent from work due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to a USDA statement earlier in the day.
A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S says the fallout from COVID-19 will drive volumes down by as much as 25% this quarter, Bloomberg reported. The world’s largest container line controls about one-fifth of the global fleet used to transport goods by sea.
The signal follows a warning from the World Trade Organization last month that the pandemic could result in the worst collapse in international trade flows since World War II.
Copenhagen-based Maersk said the coronavirus pandemic has already “had a significant impact on the activity level.” The company now sees the global container market contracting this year, compared with a previous forecast for growth of somewhere between 1% and 3%.
German engineering industry association VDMA has withdrawn its 2020 production forecast for a decline of 5% as coronavirus hits the entire sector, Reuters reported, but it said supply-chain problems in China were subsiding.
“It’s also gratifying that the outlook for the next three months has brightened somewhat on both the demand and supply side,” VDMA added in a statement.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended until June 14 its suspension of Hours-of-Service (HOS) limitations for truck drivers carrying shipments and people considered essential to responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The suspension was due to expire on May 15.
FMCSA's original declaration, issued on March 13, followed President Trump's declaration of national emergency in response to the pandemic.
"This extension of Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from [federal safety regulations] for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons," FMCSA said.
The action provides regulatory relief for motor carriers transporting medical equipment and supplies; items for sanitation and protection against infection from the virus; food, paper products and groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores; and raw materials related to such items.
The U.K. population is feeling more optimistic about coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 34.9 percent of consumers expecting the situation to improve over the next month, according to analytics company GlobalData.
Data taken from GlobalData’s monthly surveys of 2,000 nationally representative U.K. consumers conducted in early April and early May shows that, following seven weeks in lockdown, the British public are starting to feel more optimistic about the future. Just 8.5% expect the situation to get a lot worse over the next month in stark contrast to almost 30% of consumers in April.
Improved sentiment may benefit non-food retailers as consumers start to regain confidence about their income and financial situation. However with many workers still on furlough leave or without a job, and with reopening plans still uncertain, most consumers will remain cautious with their discretionary spending, the report warned.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is rolling out this week a relief program announced in April to purchase $3 billion of meat, dairy and produce from farmers and ranchers, CNBC reported.
The move is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need. The USDA has approved $1.2 billion in contracts with producers.
U.S. medical device company Becton Dickinson says manufacturers need to ramp up now to ensure production of up to 1 billion syringes needed to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine, according to NBC News.
“Waiting until a vaccine is available will be too late," said Troy Kirkpatrick, a spokesman for the world's largest manufacturer of syringes. "There is not capacity in the global industry to manufacture hundreds of millions or billions of syringes and needles in a month or two.”
The warning reinforces that of public health official and whistleblower Rick Bright, who said earlier this year that the nation’s stockpile of needles and syringes contains “a mere 2%” of the number needed.
The British International Freight Association (BIFA) is taking its training program for the freight and logistics industry online.
BIFA said it will begin using web-based video conferencing in response to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the consequent inability to conduct face-to-face in-classroom training.
Initially, the online training program will consist of 18 freight and customs-related topics spread over nine modules, with more subjects to be added in time, BIFA said. Students will receive workbooks for each module. All interactive online training will feature live trainers with more than 25 years of freight and customs experience.
Demand for the training increased fourfold in 2019, in part because of concerns over Brexit, and the release of government funds for educating the industry on knowledge of customs declarations.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak extended the U.K.’s furlough program through the end of October, Bloomberg reported, as the government sought to ensure as many jobs as possible survive the coronavirus lockdown.
Sunak said there will be no changes to the program until the end of July, when more flexibility will be injected to allow employees to work part-time, with their wages split between the state and employers. He promised more details on how the program will be modified by the end of May.
“This scheme has been a world leading economic intervention, supporting livelihoods and protecting futures,” Sunak told the House of Commons on Tuesday. He said 7.5 million jobs have been protected, benefiting almost a million employers.
Separately, data showed the number of Britons seeking Universal Credit welfare payments is still running at more than double its pre-virus average. The Department for Work and Pensions said it received almost 25,000 new declarations a day on average in the week through May 5, taking the total since restrictions on activity were first imposed on March 16 to almost 2.5 million.
New York’s City Council is set to approve emergency restrictions on fees charged by companies such as Grubhub Inc. and DoorDash Inc. amid a flourish of demand for online food-delivery, Bloomberg reported.
The council vote on Wednesday would bar charging restaurants delivery fees exceeding 15% per order, and limit fees for marketing or other services to 5% per order, with violators fined up to $1,000 per restaurant per day. Another bill would prohibit companies from charging restaurants for phone calls that don’t result in orders, carrying $500 penalties.
The laws would remain in effect for 90 days after the emergency is lifted and restaurants are able to accept in-house diners. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he supports the laws.
Boeing Co.’s net sales this year shrank by 255 jets through April as airlines shelved expansion plans and canceled orders for the grounded 737 Max, Bloomberg reported.
The planemaker didn’t gain any new orders last month and delivered only six planes — four of them 787 Dreamliners, according to data posted on its website Tuesday. The number of sales lost this year reached 516 when accounting, for example, for orders from customers in financial distress.
Already in crisis because of the beleaguered Max, Boeing is now attempting to counteract the wide-ranging effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, including parts shortages and plunging demand. The company temporarily closed factories in Washington and South Carolina for several weeks as the illness spread among workers. Overseas deliveries have slowed because of the hassle of possible quarantines for pilots who fly new jets home from the U.S.
U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) is offering expanded free access to technical expertise and resources for aiding scientists, developers and manufacturers battling the COVID-19 virus.
New users requiring tests, assays and guidelines now have six months of free access to USP-NF, an online source of medicine quality standards.
USP's tests and methods address such common issues as suitability, validation, contamination control, stability testing and qualification of raw materials.
In addition, USP scientific staff are offering to help troubleshoot quality-related challenges commonly encountered during development and scale-up of medicines.
USP is an independent, not-for-profit, nongovernmental source of information and standards relating to medicinal drugs, food ingredients and dietary supplements.
Honda Motor Co. has resumed operations at its vehicle and auto-parts factories in the U.S. and Canada, joining a caravan of other carmakers restarting North American production this month for the first time since mid-March, Bloomberg reported.
The automaker says it will gradually ramp up output and stagger its reopening to allow workers to get used to new safety practices, including temperature checks and social-distancing measures. Honda closed plants on March 23 as the coronavirus outbreak forced the shutdown of virtually all auto manufacturing on the continent.
Toyota Motor Corp. also plans to reopen U.S. plants from May 11, while Nissan Motor Co. on Thursday said it would delay its restart indefinitely while it evaluates market demand and the readiness of its supply base. Detroit’s three automakers have announced plans to resume production in the U.S. beginning May 18.
The coronavirus pandemic will hammer South Korea’s exports more than the financial crisis did, prompting a major rethink of global supply chains, Bloomberg reported.
The export sector will suffer deeper and longer-lasting pain, but the realignment of supply lines could also end up favoring South Korea as companies look for more secure sourcing of parts, said Sung Yun-mo, Korea’s trade, industry and energy minister.
With Korea’s exports seen as a barometer for global trade, Sung’s comments suggest economies around the world need to brace for a harder trade hit from COVID-19 and a wave of factory relocations that will present both risks and opportunities.
The Port of Oakland has agreed to provide berthing for three laid-up cruise ships operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines.
The vessels are expected to remain at berth for two to three months. They will idle with crew only and have not been exposed to the coronavirus, the port said.
Two of the ships were scheduled to arrive on May 9 and tie up at the port's Outer Harbor Terminal, which is currently not in use for container shipping. A third was expected on May 10 and will dock on the Oakland Estuary at Howard Terminal, which the port no longer considers to be large enough for container operations.
Approximately 100 cruise ships worldwide are seeking safe harbors in which to wait out the pandemic. An estimated 80,000 crew members are currently aboard passenger liners at sea and awaiting berth space, the port said.
“We’re a container port, but we’re still in the shipping business,” said port Executive Director Danny Wan. “These ships are under federal requirements to report health concerns, and we understand that they haven’t had a history of coronavirus, so we’ll do what we can to help.”
The latest jobs report reflects the worst economic conditions in the U.S. since the Great Depression, according to Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University.
The April jobs report put the nation's unemployment rate at between 10% and 14.7%, the highest national rate since the 1930s.
Most of the losses occurred in sectors that continued to experience low demand after the loosening of shelter-in-place orders, Hicks said. “This strongly suggests that the [coronavirus] disease, not government action, is the cause of economic distress. Thus, regardless of state action to relax shelter-in-place rules, the economy will continue to experience Great Depression levels of stress until COVID-19 vaccinations or treatments are available."
Of the 20.6 million workers reported to be unemployed in the past month, 18 million reported that they were experiencing temporary layoffs. "This signals the expectation that they may regain their jobs as conditions improve,” Hicks said.
Target is in the process of buying technology assets from the same-day delivery service Deliv, NBC News reported, as the retailer looks to speed up deliveries during the pandemic.
Deliv’s technology won’t be rolled out immediately. But it could be useful in Target’s long-term efforts to transform its supply chain, the startup said.
Deliv is in the process of shutting down its operations, The Wall Street Journal reported this week, providing Target the opportunity to buy the company's technology.
Imports at major U.S. retail container ports are expected to see double-digit year-over-year declines this spring and summer as the economic effects of the pandemic continue, according to a report by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
U.S. ports handled 1.37 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in March, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was the lowest volume since 1.34 million TEU in March 2016 — down 9.1 percent from this February and down 14.8 percent year-over-year.
“Much will depend on consumers’ willingness to return to spending,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Our view is that second-quarter economic growth will be significantly worse than the previous quarter, but we continue to expect recovery to come in the second half of the year, especially the fourth quarter and into 2021. This is based on the big and somewhat tenuous assumption that there is no second wave of the virus.”
The Consumer Brands Association has launched a coordinated effort of more than 35 trade associations to address short- and long-term supply-chain challenges made apparent by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Critical Infrastructure Supply Chain Council (CISCC) aims to advance U.S. policies that strengthen the country’s supply chains and ensure the timely flow of critical goods. It will also serve as a forum for best practices and to “anticipate, spotlight and address future supply chain challenges” according to a statement.
The oceangoing container trades are likely to experience further imbalances of equipment and voyage cancellations in the second quarter, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd.
Shipping containers began getting stuck at Chinese ports in February, as a result of declining exports due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, Drewry noted. Sluggish demand, coupled with numerous voyage cancellations, have made it difficult for carriers to ensure the availability of equipment in key markets. "With most countries opting for a complete lockdown, repositioning of containers is becoming challenging for liners," the firm said.
Drewry said it expects the continuing container imbalance to have "a significant impact" on freight movements in the second quarter of this year. In addition, carriers are likely to step up the voiding of sailings to minimize losses, "thus eroding service reliability."
Making matters worse for shippers is an increase in the number of ships temporarily removed from service altogether. As of the end of March, Drewry reported, 8.2% of total containership fleet capacity stood idle. That compares with 5.1% at the beginning of January.
The firm said it expects container markets to remain volatile "until we see a combination of 1) evidence of successful virus containment; 2) clarity on the net economic impact; and 3) a concerted global policy response."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released an interactive map displaying state-by-state guidelines for reopening businesses across the country.
The map contains information on American businesses in 29 states where governors have begun reopening local economies. Approaches vary from state to state in areas such as health screening, social distancing, protective gear, childcare, and sectors that are being permitted to resume operations.
“The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic presents unprecedented challenges for American employers who are working hard to protect their employees and customers as they navigate a safe and
The Chamber said it will update the map as new guidelines become available.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reversed a decision to allow the emergency use of dozens of N-95 face masks made in China, after government testing found many didn’t work properly, Bloomberg reported.
The agency had authorized use of the masks to help address shortages of personal protective equipment, on the condition that their effectiveness was verified by independent testing labs. That policy, put in place April 3, is being reversed based on testing by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that found many of the masks failed to meet filtration standards.
Amazon workers in southern California’s industrial heartland say the company’s policies are forcing sick employees to work and that warehouses are refusing to comply with a state paid sick leave law meant to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, according to The Guardian.
Workers in the Los Angeles area say they fear losing their jobs if they are ill and stay home, after Amazon ended a policy allowing unlimited unpaid time off during the coronavirus crisis. The workers said they could now be fired if they miss shifts, and raised concerns the reversal will result in sick and vulnerable people showing up for shifts because they can’t risk termination. Employees also shared emails showing that Amazon has dismissed some paid sick leave requests by claiming a California law intended to provide supplemental sick leave during the pandemic does not apply to warehouses.
At least four Amazon warehouses in the region have recorded COVID-19 cases.
Construction and maintenance were among the small and medium-sized business (SMB) sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic in April, according to new data from payments company Plastiq.
The survey revealed a 71% decline in payment volume among construction and maintenance SMBs during that month. Commercial rent suffered a 31% drop.
Certain other industries, by contrast, saw sharp increases in payment volume: healthcare (48%), food and beverage (45%), and wholesale/distribution (31%).
Average SMB spending declined by 21% in April, due to reduced business activity from shelter-in-place orders. Plastiq also said it saw "an uptick in questions regarding what bills can be put on credit."
There was a notable spike in new SMB activations among food and beverage (22% percent higher than in January) and hotel, restaurant and leisure industries (146% higher).
The European Commission will propose an instrument to prevent companies across the continent from going bust.
“We have provided major liquidity support to companies, but as the economy is in such a deep recession, we also need to see how we can provide a direct or rather indirect equity response,” EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Details of the plan, due to be unveiled in the coming weeks, are still being discussed, he said.
The latest proposal to dig the bloc out of a deep recession would be backed from a pool of common funds. The aim is to restore a level-playing field between deep-pocketed member states such as Germany that have showered their firms in state aid and the likes of debt-addled Italy that can’t match that spending power.
Declining meat supply throughout the U.S. is largely the result of industry consolidation, a report in Foreign Policy says.
In beef production, for example, just three companies account for two-thirds of the market. At the factory level, closing one large processing plant results in the loss of over 10 million beef servings in a single day, according to a White House fact sheet.
“We don’t have a crisis of supply right now. We have a crisis in processing,” said Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket, in an interview with Bloomberg. “This is 100% a symptom of consolidation.”
In Europe, the continent hit worst by the coronavirus pandemic, the top 15 meat companies account for just 28% of production.
Pfizer Inc. has administered the first U.S. patients with its experimental vaccines to fight COVID-19, part of a bid to shave years off of the typical time it takes to develop a new inoculation, Bloomberg reported. The trials are being conducted at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“The short, less than four-month time-frame in which we’ve been able to move from preclinical studies to human testing is extraordinary,” CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
Amazon's move to invest $4 billion in fighting the COVID-19 virus has created a challenge to potential rivals FedEx and UPS, according to a report by Morgan Stanley Research.
A large portion of Amazon's investment is going toward wage increases, purchase of personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing and the enforcement of social distancing, as well as the hiring of 175,000 new employees. By contrast, FedEx is only hiring 5,000 new employees, and UPS is making no additions to staff as a direct result of the virus outbreak, Morgan Stanley noted.
"This either shows that UPS/FDX are not benefitting from e-commerce growth anywhere as much as [Amazon], or it shows that the decline in other customer volumes is offsetting any e-commerce gains (as demonstrated by UPS’s 1Q result)," the firm said.
"It is clear that [Amazon] is benefiting from COVID-related volume growth given the investments and sacrifices they are making to cope with it," Morgan Stanley said, adding that when surging e-commerce volumes return to normal, the company could possibly use its resulting excess capacity to insource volumes or launch its own third-party logistics service.
Amazon might further benefit from the perception among customers that its packages are safer and cleaner to handle during the pandemic, Morgan Stanley said.
Many seafarers have served their four- to nine-month tours of duty but are unable to leave their vessels even after 12 months or longer, according to Intercargo, which provides consultation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
“Maritime authorities of port states should join with their immigration departments to … permit crew change without undue restrictions in their ports to ensure safety at sea and of their territorial waters” said Intercargo Vice Chairman Jay Pillai.
The pandemic has left an estimated 1.6 million seafarers stranded onshore or unable to leave their vessels.
U.S. exports of goods and services plunged in March by a record 9.6% to $187.7 billion, while imports fell 6.2% to $232.2 billion — the most in 11 years, Bloomberg reported.
The overall gap in goods and services trade widened to $44.4 billion from a revised $39.8 billion in February, according to Commerce Department data.
Foreign trade was already diminishing heading into the pandemic, and now, faced with supply chain disruptions, a previously incomprehensible surge in unemployment and a drop off in demand, the world’s largest economy has pulled back more dramatically.
Costco is the latest retailer to implement purchasing limits on fresh meat because of the slowdown at processing plants, according to CNN Business.
The company announced it's limiting shoppers to three items of beef, pork and poultry products to "help ensure more members are able to purchase merchandise they want and need."
Kroger, the country's largest supermarket chain, announced a similar rule last week. The limits are because of high demand from shoppers while top meat suppliers are temporarily closing their factories because workers are falling ill.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, airlines have cut passenger flights by 95%. At the same time, demand for e-commerce shipments has risen by 25% to 30%, as customers replace in-person shopping with online purchasing.
IATA and UPU urged governments "to facilitate the flexibility that airlines need to meet this critical demand by removing border blockages to ensure trade flows continue, avoiding unnecessary regulations and fast tracking the issuance of permits for chartered operations. Additionally, ensuring adequately trained staff are available to process and clear the mail upon arrival is essential."
"It’s vital that everything is done to support the smooth movement of mail, which is an important component of society,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
American beef output is down a lot more than plant closures suggest — a sign that slowdowns at facilities will continue to keep meat supplies tight even when some production lines reopen, Bloomberg reported.
Cattle slaughter dropped 37% last week from a year ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. That far outstrips the 10% to 15% in capacity that’s been halted with meat plants closed after coronavirus outbreaks among employees. Hog slaughter was down 35%, also topping the shutdown figure of 25% to 30%.
While many plants have stayed open, they’ve still been forced to slow output as producers combat a loss of labor. Social-distancing measures will also likely keep output trailing normal levels even as facilities reopen under President Trump’s executive order.
Top pork producer Smithfield Foods is reopening a hog-processing plant in South Dakota on Monday that had been closed since April 12 — asking 250 employees to return. That’s down from 3,700 workers normally, with some 1,000 workers either sick with the virus or in quarantine.
New York Governor Cuomo has announced the creation of a coalition of seven neighboring states in the Northeast to purchase medical equipment and personal protective equipment, CBS News reported.
New York will join New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to purchase the equipment as a block, eliminating competition between them to drive down prices.
Cruise, the self-driving car unit majority owned by General Motors, has made another foray into autonomous delivery by using its fleet of test vehicles in the San Francisco Bay area to help food banks transport meals, Bloomberg reported.
Two cars are pulling up to SF New Deal and SF-Marin Food Bank, loading up on pre-boxed meals and making contact-less deliveries, according to the company. It’s delivered more than 3,700 meals, while volunteer safety drivers wearing proper personal protective equipment supervise.
The vehicles are another indication of how interested self-driving companies are in moving goods around autonomously. Cruise started a pilot with DoorDash early last year, and Waymo, the unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., has said that autonomous trucking could catch on faster than robotaxis.
Procurement managers of major companies are moving quickly on a number of fronts to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from Inverto.
Inverto, a subsidiary of the Boston Consulting Group, surveyed more than 100 procurement managers across multiple industries. Eighty-six percent said they were already confronted by bottlenecks caused by the pandemic, "and expect the situation to become more serious in the future."
More than 90% of respondents said they had already planned or taken measures to make their companies "crisis-proof." Actions cited included setting up control committees to manage supply risks on a daily basis (75%), finding new suppliers (86%), reducing all short- and medium-term investments (83%), and implementing stricter cash-management policies to maintain liquidity (78%).
At the same time, managers said they faced a "considerable" amount of implementation challenges associated with distressed suppliers, refining budgets, implementing alternative supply, and reducing operating expense.
“To date, companies have had a short-term focus on crisis response, which should now shift to addressing inherent cost structures and demand patterns,” said Lance Younger, managing director of Inverto U.K.
The World Economic Forum has released a Blockchain Deployment Toolkit to help organizations maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of the technology — and improve future pandemic preparedness.
Drawing on the global expertise of more than 100 organizations, the toolkit aims to help companies manage the complexities of deploying blockchain to improve “trust, transparency and integrity” in supply chains, the forum says.
“There are many lessons to learn from the current pandemic and this toolkit is a starting point for improving long-term pandemic preparedness and accelerating an economic recovery led by public-private cooperation,” said Nadia Hewett, blockchain and digital currency project lead for the World Economic Forum.
Gilead Sciences Inc.’s experimental antiviral drug has been cleared by U.S. regulators for emergency use in COVID-19 patients, Bloomberg reported.
The drug, remdesivir, has shown positive results in helping hospitalized patients recover more quickly. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the drug under an emergency use authorization, a shortcut step by which the agency can bring products to market without full data on their safety and efficacy.
Walmart has announced a new service that delivers store items to customers’ doors in less than two hours.
The company accelerated the development of the service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, piloting Express Delivery in 100 stores since mid-April, Walmart said in a statement. The service will expand to nearly 1,000 stores in early May and will be available in nearly 2,000 total stores in the following weeks.
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