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Pfizer expects to ship half the COVID-19 vaccines it originally planned for 2020 due to supply-chain problems, Bloomberg reported. The company still expects to roll out more than a billion doses in 2021.
“Scaling up the raw material supply chain took longer than expected and it’s important to highlight that the outcome of the clinical trial was somewhat later than the initial projection,” a company spokeswoman said.
Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s biggest pork producer, is willing to share space in its ultra-low-temperature freezers to store COVID-19 vaccines, Bloomberg reported. Virginia-based Smithfield is ready to assist health agencies if storage capacity becomes constrained, said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer.
“We do expect that, working with our health agency partners, we can facilitate the rapid distribution of the vaccine to food and agricultural workers,” Lombardo said in the statement. “We stand ready as well to assist, as possible, with distribution to workers in other essential categories through our site-based health care facilities.”
Even before vaccines started to become available, freezer space had been in short supply with economic disruptions caused by the pandemic prompting goods such as meat to be held in cold storage for longer. Some ultra-low freezers get as low -80 Celsius (-112 Fahrenheit).
A public-interest group told a London court that the U.K. wasted millions of pounds on COVID-19 personal protective equipment as it rushed into contracts at the start of the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. Nearly 400 million pounds ($538 million) worth of protective gear, including masks and gowns, that were bought earlier in the year remain in storage and have never reached front line doctors and nurses, the Good Law Project said in a court filing Thursday.
Optimism among small business owners has fallen to a four-year low, according to a Bank of America Corp. survey of more than 1,000 entrepreneurs between July and September. Only 39% of respondents expect their local economy to improve in the next 12 months, down from 51% at the start of the year, Bloomberg reported. Hiring plans and revenue expectations are at the lowest levels since 2012 and 2013, respectively. Still, seven in 10 small-business owners say they plan to keep staffing levels steady in 2021.
The survey also found:
New York expects to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine on Dec. 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. Health-care workers in the most high-risk jobs, such as emergency rooms, as well as nursing-home residents and staffers will receive the vaccine first, Bloomberg reported.
To be effective, experts say the vaccine must cover 75% to 85% of the population, Cuomo said. “That is a tremendously high percentage on every level.”
Two doses are required per person, so the state will receive an additional 170,000 from Pfizer 21 days after the first. The state expects additional shipments of the Pfizer vaccine and about 40,000 doses from Moderna later this month, Cuomo said. The shipments will then continue to arrive on a rolling basis.
Cuomo acknowledged that the first few batches won’t cover everyone, but he said he expects they will cover most of the approximately 85,000 nursing-home residents and 130,000 staff members. There are about 600,000 health-care workers in the state, he said.
The U.K.’s quick approval of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE means Britons will get first dibs on a shot developed in two other countries — the U.S. and Germany, Bloomberg reported.
Britain’s drug regulator on Wednesday cleared the vaccine for emergency use, ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its European Union counterpart. The government cited a rule allowing the U.K. to authorize a shot independently before the end of the Brexit transition period on Dec. 31. An accelerated review process in which regulators were able to monitor Pfizer’s trial data in real time also helped.
The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency “has done a great job of working with the company to look at that data as it’s come through and do things in parallel, rather than one after the other as they normally would,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a radio appearance. He also credited Brexit, though the MHRA said the speedy authorization was conducted within EU guidelines.
The COVID-19 crisis could be worse than the Great Recession for companies that had high levels of indebtedness at the start of the outbreak, according to economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Firms in industries most affected by the pandemic such as tourism, travel and hospitality could grow as much as 10% more slowly than in ordinary times if the current crisis plays out in a similar way to the economic decline of 2007 to 2009, Kristian Blickle and João Santos wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
Research from the two economists shows that companies with higher levels of debt experienced 3% slower growth during the Great Recession compared to less-indebted peers, Bloomberg reported. The gap between the two groups is closer to 2% in normal conditions.
Rules allowing the rapid shipment of COVID-19 vaccines by cargo aircraft have been approved by U.S. transportation regulators, Bloomberg reported. The Transportation Department established safety requirements for carrying the potentially dangerous dry ice needed to keep some vaccines stable, the agency said in a press release Tuesday. It also set standards for carrying flammable batteries needed in the airlift and eased restrictions on how long flight crews involved in the effort can work.
“The department has laid the groundwork for the safe transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine and is proud to support this historic endeavor,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in the release.
The Transportation Department has also issued emergency rules allowing truckers more flexibility to conduct COVID-19-related deliveries.
Professionals working from home during the pandemic are spending two hours and 10 minutes more per week watching TV during the day than they did before the coronavirus struck, Bloomberg reported.
Overall, workers are watching 21% more TV on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or about 26 minutes more per day, according to data from an October survey released Tuesday by Nielsen, the research firm. About 65% of consumers surveyed back in August said they were watching videos during breaks, but more than half also said they tune in while working, often with the sound on.
The data could have an impact on advertisers looking to reach certain audiences outside of their traditional TV hours. “After living in a pandemic for nine months, daytime has become a second prime time for total TV consumption among many former office professionals and managers,” Nielsen said.
Many states fear they won’t have the supplies they need to administer COVID-19 vaccines and are still grappling with a deficit of coronavirus testing materials, according to a report from a top federal watchdog that calls for “urgent actions” to fight the pandemic.
Thirty-eight states told the Government Accountability Office that they were concerned about having enough supplies to distribute and administer vaccines, according to the report Monday by the nonpartisan agency. Between a third and half of states had shortages of some testing supplies in October, including rapid point-of-care tests, the GAO found.
States were mostly able to fulfill requests for personal protective equipment but relied on federal stockpiles because they couldn’t get the gear on the open market, the report said.
Online shoppers in the U.S. are expected to drop a record-busting $12.7 billion on Cyber Monday, Bloomberg reported. The COVID-19 surge kept crowd-averse shoppers away from physical malls on Black Friday, reinforcing predictions that online shopping will soar this year. Adobe Analytics predicts that spending Cyber Monday spending for 2020 will climb by 35% — more than double the growth rate in the years prior to the pandemic.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the federal government hopes to quickly review and approve requests from two drug makers for emergency approval of their COVID-19 vaccines, Bloomberg reported.
Pfizer Inc. is scheduled to submit an Emergency Use Authorization request on Dec. 10 for the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech, followed by Moderna on Dec. 18, Adams said.
“We, from a federal perspective, have promised and set everything up so we can quickly review those EUAs and hopefully start sending out vaccines within 24 to 48 hours,” Adams said on “Fox News Sunday.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” the top U.S. infectious diseases specialist Anthony Fauci said vaccines would likely roll out in the middle to end of December. He told Chuck Todd on NBC, however, that “it’s going to be months” for children and pregnant women because vaccine efficacy needs to be established.
The U.K. government hopes to begin rolling out a vaccination program before Christmas if regulators approve the shots in time, Bloomberg reported. “We hope, subject to the regulatory approvals, to be in a position to be able to have rolled out the vaccine sufficiently by, say, the spring to enable us to have a big change in the way we approach things,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and a government adviser, said he would be “surprised” if a vaccine becomes available as soon as next week. An announcement that a vaccine has been approved for use could come within the next two weeks, he said.
With Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing a political backlash over strict new coronavirus rules, Openshaw warned the government not to relax pandemic restrictions too soon. “if we take the brakes off at this stage, just when the end is in sight, I think we’ll be making a huge mistake,” he told the BBC.
After slow growth in digital sales on Thanksgiving, U.S. retailers pulled in a record $12.8 billion in online revenue on Black Friday, putting questions about consumer strength at ease, Bloomberg reported. That represents 23% growth over last year.
Globally, online revenue reached $62.2 billion, up 30% from a year ago. The most mentioned products on social media include Hulu’s subscription offer, the Apple iPhone 12, and Sony’s PlayStation 5, Salesforce said.
Facing an influx of online orders, retailers are sourcing delivery services through companies like Uber, Lyft, Postmates to help expand their shipping capacity, said Rob Garf, Salesforce’s vice president of strategy and insights.
The U.K. government lost a “crucial month” in its fight against coronavirus because it was slow to respond to a shortage of ventilators, the House of Commons spending watchdog found. Ministers only started efforts to buy more ventilators on March 3, just over a month after the WHO declared the pandemic a public health emergency, the Public Accounts Committee said.
A separate report by the National Audit Office, the body that scrutinizes public spending, found that the U.K. was too slow to source personal protective equipment for frontline health workers, Bloomberg reported.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed an advance purchase agreement with Moderna Inc. for 160 million doses of the company’s vaccine in development, Bloomberg reported. The agreement on behalf of all 27 EU countries marks the commission’s sixth such accord with drug companies. The EU’s executive arm is working on one more deal with a pharmaceutical company, the president said in a statement.
Record airline losses from the coronavirus outbreak will balloon further next year as anticipated vaccination programs take time to revive travel demand, according to the industry’s main trade group.
The International Air Transport Association predicted carriers will lose almost $39 billion in 2021, more than double the forecast in June. That’s on top of a $118.5 billion deficit in the current 12 months, up 40% from the prior outlook after a new wave of lockdowns wiped out a resurgence in flights, Bloomberg reported.
Malaysia will temporarily close 28 factories of Top Glove Corp. located in the Selangor state after a spike in infections there pushed up the nation’s daily cases to a record 1,884 on Monday, Bloomberg reported. Factories of the world’s largest rubber-glove maker will be closed in stages to allow workers to undergo screenings and quarantine.
As many as one in 12 cases of COVID-19 in the early stage of the pandemic in the U.S. can be tied to outbreaks at meatpacking plants and subsequent spread in surrounding communities, according Bloomberg.
Data show “a strong positive relationship” between meatpacking plants and “local community transmission” in cases through late July, suggesting the plants act as “transmission vectors” and “accelerate the spread of the virus,” according to a study by researchers at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
The conclusions draw attention to the role of the meatpacking industry in the pandemic and the Trump administration’s controversial approach to workplace safety as outbreaks at slaughterhouses emerged. Trump issued an executive order on April 28 directing meatpackers to reopen closed facilities, and the administration eschewed mandatory COVID-19 safety regulation, opting instead for voluntary industry guidelines.
David Michaels, who headed the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration under Barack Obama, said the study is “further evidence that workplace exposures play an important role in driving the pandemic in the U.S.”
Clorox Co. is shipping out its disinfecting wipes as fast as the company can make them — nearly one million packages every day — but it’s still not fast enough, according to Bloomberg.
While the bleach maker planned to have inventories replenished at major retailers by this summer, unprecedented demand throughout the pandemic dashed any hope of that. To cope, Clorox has added 10 additional third-party manufacturers and is running its own facilities 24 hours a day, the company says.
Clorox competitor Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC expects to churn out 35 million cans of Lysol spray a month in North America by the end of the year — more than triple the amount before the pandemic began.
U.S. business activity powered ahead in November at the fastest pace since March 2015, Bloomberg reported. The IHS Markit flash composite index of purchasing managers at manufacturers and service providers increased to 57.9 from 56.3, the group said Monday. Readings above 50 indicate growth and the figure stands in stark contrast to the euro area, where activity shrank as governments tightened restrictions to contain a surge in infections.
Elderly Americans will be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines, and CVS Health will lean on processes developed by years of conducting seasonal flu clinics to speed a rollout to care homes across the U.S., Bloomberg reported.
“Our pharmacists, our nursing professionals have gone to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities for several years now,” said Larry Merlo, the pharmacy chain’s CEO, on CBS. “So we have the systems. We have the processes.”
Merlo said more than 25,000 long-term care facilities have selected CVS to be their Covid vaccine provider, and that the company is adding pharmacy staff ahead of the effort.
“Operation Warp Speed has said 24 hours after approval, those vaccines will be on the road. And 48 hours after we receive that vaccine, we’ll be in those facilities providing that vaccine into the arms of our elderly,” he said.
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that staffing will be a bigger issue at hospitals than the number of available beds during the unfolding spike, Bloomberg reported.
“The hospitals can create new beds, they just won’t have the people to staff them,” he said. That’s because unlike previous waves, there will be limited ability to surge staff from less-affected areas of the country to hot spots.
Gottlieb, who is a Pfizer board member, predicted that the vaccines could be widely available to the general public by the second quarter of next year if all goes well. He also said that perhaps 30% of the public will have been infected with COVID-19 by the end of the winter, building up some immunity.
The U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed says vaccinations against COVID-19 will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, Bloomberg reported.
“On the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the state departments of health will have told us where to deliver the vaccines,” said Moncef Slaoui, head of the government’s program, on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Oil tanks in America’s most important crude storage hub are filling to the brim once again, Bloomberg reported, quickly approaching the critical levels reached in May after prices crashed.
Stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate futures, stood at 61.6 million barrels as of Nov. 13, or about 81% of capacity, according to the most recent U.S. government data. That’s 3.83 million barrels shy of the levels seen in May.
Though a repeat of the negative oil prices seen in April is unlikely, the mounting supply glut brings home how lockdown measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic may soon force traders to store oil in every nook and cranny available, including ships and pipelines. Some are already doing that.
The reasons behind the buildup are similar to what happened before: Refineries are still coping with lackluster demand as coronavirus cases surge anew. On top of that, some of them have also been undergoing seasonal maintenance.
Workday Inc. executives said the pandemic-fueled recession will likely crimp software demand next year, Bloomberg reported.
The company said some customers of its human resources and accounting tools are struggling and new business is harder to find as the coronavirus continues to spread. Executives, speaking on a conference call, expressed optimism about their business, but said COVID-19 has created so much uncertainty that they couldn’t give a forecast for fiscal 2022, which begins in February.
Workday has signed partnerships with Salesforce.com Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. during the past few months to help customers return to the office and conduct COVID-19 tracing.
“The best way to look at it is, the world is trying to get back to normal, but there are a couple of sectors that are having a hard time getting back to normal,” said Workday’s Co-Chief Executive Officer Aneel Bhusri.
Fewer Americans said they were working as the latest wave of the coronavirus infections surge across the U.S., according to data released by the Census Bureau.
Back-to-back Household Pulse Surveys conducted from mid-October to early November showed that the number of employed Americans declined by about 4.5 million, Bloomberg reported. The figures are a possible sign the labor-market rebound may be losing steam amid a COVID-19 resurgence.
Among the jobless, about 4.21 million said they were sick with coronavirus symptoms or caring for someone with symptoms, according to the latest survey released on Wednesday and covering the Oct. 28 to Nov. 9 period. That’s up from 2.95 million between the previous Oct. 14-26 survey period. About 5.71 million were out of work because their employers shut down either temporarily or permanently, compared with 5.35 million in the previous tally. The total number of employed people in the U.S. stands at about 141 million, the survey showed.
U.S. health officials say freezers required to store COVID-19 vaccines are in place at health systems that are preparing to administer the initial doses once the shots receive a green light from regulators, Bloomberg reported.
The federal government will have 40 million doses ready to distribute by the end of December should vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, and Moderna Inc. receive emergency-use authorizations, said Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser of Operation Warp Speed, the effort to expedite the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
There will be enough capacity to vaccinate the world until the end of next year, CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas told Bloomberg Television in an interview. How long protection lasts and what effect vaccines have on different immune systems remain to be seen, he said, reiterating that it’s good to have more than one shot. Haas said the development of vaccine stability will increase.
A shaken U.S. agriculture industry already “stressed” by a profitability squeeze in a pandemic year may see little relief in 2021, according to a survey of industry lenders.
Agricultural lenders reported that “just under” 51% of their borrowers were profitable this year and about half those lenders don’t expect borrower profitability to improve next year, according to the Fall 2020 Agricultural Lender Survey from the American Bankers Association and Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, also known as Farmer Mac. That’s down from 2019, when lenders said about 57% of borrowers were profitable, Bloomberg reported.
Grains, dairy and beef cattle topped the list of lender concerns by commodity sector, the report said. Worries about beef rose to 54% from 44%, and hogs to 50% from 29%, as the pandemic’s effect on animal proteins “worked their way through to lender sentiment,” the report said.
The consumer behaviors that accelerated at the start of the virus — think digital ordering, bulkier baskets and no margin for error when it comes to delivery — are showing zero signs of abating eight months in, according to Bloomberg. For three straight quarters now, Walmart Inc. has seen U.S. customers place fewer total orders but purchase much more when they do. Tyson Foods Inc.’s CEO on Monday highlighted “stickiness in click-and-collect and click-and-deliver,” while executives at Chinese online giant JD.com Inc. said this week the shift toward online shopping is here to stay.
“We’re convinced that most of the behavior change will persist beyond the pandemic,” Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said on an investor call after its U.S. e-commerce business jumped 79% in the latest quarter.
Germany’s auto industry secured 5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) in government aid to help weather the coronavirus crisis and invest in the transition to electric cars, Bloomberg reported.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government will extend cash bonuses for purchasing electric-powered vehicles until 2025, offer incentives to replace aging trucks and help suppliers invest in new technology.
Carmakers and parts suppliers, which employ nearly 800,000 people in Germany, were spending heavily on electric cars before the pandemic hit. That left companies exposed to the sudden drop in demand from the fallout. Auto production plunged 97% in April and has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels, with curbs to stem the latest wave threatening to further sap demand.
Office employees are getting used to the perks of telecommuting, and expect it to continue even after the pandemic ends, but most aren’t ready to abandon the office entirely, according to a survey of more than 2,000 workers globally by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. A majority of employees want to continue working from home at least two days a week, Bloomberg reported.
Flexible working could be the solution for businesses struggling to recruit women into senior roles, according to a new study by Zurich Insurance Group AG.
Applications for management roles by women jumped 20% after the insurer advertised all possible positions with part-time, job share or flexible working options as part of research with the U.K. government’s Behavioural Insight Team, Bloomberg reported. The number of women hired for senior jobs jumped by one third as a direct result.
The study — which was conducted before COVID-19 prompted widespread lockdowns across Europe — shows how the more flexible working approach many firms have adopted during the pandemic could boost gender-balanced career progression.
The American Clinical Laboratory Association, whose members do about half of the country’s testing, says it’s seeing a big increase in test orders with the demand expected to continue ahead of Thanksgiving, Bloomberg reported. As a result, turnaround times of around two days could increase as labs reach or exceed their testing capacities in the coming days, the group warned.
Meanwhile, labs are also grappling with supply shortages, including pipette tips — used to transport samples during the testing process — and swabs. Though the government has invested in manufacturers to build out capacity, that will take into 2021 to pan out, said Scott Becker, head of the Association of Public Health Laboratories.
“All of the issues we uncovered in the spring and lived through in the summer haven’t gone away completely,” Becker said. “With this massive surge in cases, it’s natural to see that testing will unfortunately slow down.”
The OPEC+ oil alliance should consider delaying its planned output boost by between three and six months, a technical panel that advises ministers suggested.
The coalition — led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — is scheduled to increase crude production by almost 2 million barrels a day in January, having initially anticipated that a global economic recovery would rekindle fuel demand, Bloomberg reported.
The Joint Technical Committee, that met online on Monday, came to the view that risks for the oil market are skewed to the downside as a resurgence of the coronavirus triggers a new wave of lockdowns.
The JTC suggested that a panel of ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, should consider scenarios of delaying the supply increase by between three and six months. The 23-nation alliance will make a final decision when it meets between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Authorities in the Chinese city of Jinan said Saturday that the novel coronavirus had been found on frozen beef and tripe from Brazil, Bolivia and New Zealand — and on the products’ packaging, Bloomberg reported. China has vowed to disinfect all overseas shipments of cold-chain products to try and avoid any potential transmission of the virus.
Freight carriers including container shippers and cargo airlines say global demand is building toward a seasonal peak that could outstrip last year’s as online consumer spending surges, Bloomberg reported.
Container volumes may dip just 2% for 2020 compared with early industry-expert forecasts of a 15% slump, according to Rolf Habben Jansen, chief executive officer of German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd AG, which is deploying more capacity now than it did during the build-up to year-end holidays in 2019.
“Volume started really coming back from August,” Jansen said. “From everything we see now, it looks like the market is going to remain pretty strong until at least Chinese New Year in mid-February.”
Cargolux Airlines International SA, Europe’s biggest freight-only carrier, is experiencing a similar surge in demand and has 30 Boeing Co. 747 freighters in continuous operation. While that’s partly because a drop in passenger flights has reduced hold space, CEO Richard Forson said consignments of protective gear that dominated earlier in the year are giving way to toys, fashion items and electronic goods including the latest Apple Inc. iPhone, Sony Corp. PlayStation and Microsoft Corp. Xbox offerings.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the U.K. has contingency plans to fly doses of the coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE into the country if there’s disruption at the border when the post-Brexit transition period ends Dec. 31, Bloomberg reported.
“We have a plan for the vaccine, which is being manufactured in Belgium, and if necessary we can fly in order to avoid those problems,” Hancock told BBC TV’s “Question Time” show late Thursday, when asked about the impact of Brexit. “We’ve got a plan for all eventualities.” He reiterated that he’s “confident” the lack of an EU deal wouldn’t hold up delivery of the vaccine.
With eight weeks to go until the transition period ends, the U.K. and EU are yet to strike a new trading regime to replace it.
The American Clinical Laboratory Association, which represents large laboratories such as Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings and Quest Diagnostics Inc., warned that surging demand for COVID-19 tests could push some labs to or beyond capacity, delaying test results, Bloomberg reported.
Members labs performed a record 495,000 polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests for COVID-19 on Wednesday and while they’re working to expand capacity, labs have faced challenges obtaining supplies like pipette tips, according to the group.
October was another record month for dockworkers at the West Coast port of Long Beach as more than 800,000 cargo containers were processed — a first in the terminal’s 109-year history, Bloomberg reported.
Port of Long Beach data released Thursday showed 806,603 containers moved in and out of the terminal, more than 11,000 units more than the previous record a month earlier. The terminal processed 17.2% more volume than October 2019.
The pickup underscores America’s outsize role in global trade and that the world economy is on the mend from the pandemic-induced slowdown. While an increase in COVID-19 cases remains a risk, the large volume of trade signals retailers expect a strong holiday-shopping season and that firms continue to rebuild depleted inventories.
Building production capacity to supply the world with a potential vaccine for COVID-19 will be a long effort over the course of next year, according to BioNTech SE, the German company working with Pfizer Inc. on the project.
“We’ll be scaling up as we bring more factories on-line,” Sean Marett, the company’s chief commercial officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. How much of the added capacity comes online in the second half and depends on how quickly those factories are set up, he said.
OPEC once again cut estimates for the amount of crude it will need to provide in the coming year as the return of measures to contain the global pandemic hits fuel use, Bloomberg reported.
The revision illustrates why the group’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, has said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies may adjust plans to restore supply when they meet later this month. The virus’s effects will “linger” next year even with the announcement of a vaccine breakthrough, the group said.
Earning a living remotely is a privilege you should be paying for, according to Deutsche Bank AG strategists. They propose a 5% levy for those who work from home on a regular basis and not because of a government lockdown mandate, Bloomberg reported.
Such a measure could raise $48 billion a year in the U.S. and about 16 billion euros ($18.8 billion) in Germany, they say, to fund subsidies for low-income earners and essential workers who are unable to work remotely.
The European Union’s executive arm proposed beefing up the bloc’s health agencies, Bloomberg reported, as the pandemic overwhelms the continent’s hospitals and leaves countries struggling with supply shortages.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides unveiled draft legislation to give more clout to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency. The European Commission will also propose the creation of a biomedical development and production authority modeled after the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
The measures aim to guard against a patchwork of national responses to any future health scares in the 27-country bloc. Under the proposed rules, the EU will be able to declare a bloc-wide public health emergency and adopt common measures.
The U.K. government is set to hand more than 40 billion pounds to companies that can help in its drive to ramp up mass coronavirus testing, Bloomberg reported.
Public Health England put out a 22 billion-pound ($29 billion) contract to tender last week for a new “national microbiology framework agreement,” which includes the manufacture and development of tests for two years, with the option to extend for another two years.
A separate tender worth 20 billion pounds from the National Health Service Supply Chain, which manages the sourcing and supply of healthcare products, involves on-the-spot tests and diagnostic equipment.
The government has also issued a third tender worth 912 million pounds for the supply of rapid turnaround lateral flow tests. The total scale of the contracts is bigger than the annual budgets of some government departments.
U.S. infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci said Americans less at risk for contracting COVID-19 could have access to a vaccine by April, Bloomberg reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in charge of prioritizing who will get a shot first. Health-care providers and high-risk groups such as the elderly would likely be at the front of the line, Fauci said. He said in a CNN interview yesterday that some of the first vaccinations could come at the end of the month or December.
Fauci acknowledged logistical challenges related to distributing doses, but said the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program was meant to help overcome those hurdles.
“To say it’s going to be easy would not be truthful,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge. But I believe we’re going to be able to do it.”
The European Union finalized an agreement to buy 200 million doses from Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, with an option to buy another 100 million, Bloomberg reported. The initial accord was announced Sept. 9.
The Federal Reserve is warning that asset prices in key markets could still take a hit if the pandemic’s economic impact worsens in coming months, Bloomberg reported.
“Uncertainty remains high, and investor risk sentiment could shift swiftly should the economic recovery prove less promising or progress on containing the virus disappoint,” the Fed said in its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report, which is meant to spotlight emerging threats to the financial system. “Some segments of the economy, such as energy as well as travel and hospitality, are particularly vulnerable to a prolonged pandemic.”
The U.S. and Europe are in line to get the first doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine after a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech delivered positive preliminary results in a large patient trial, Bloomberg reported. The partners said they’ll be able to produce enough to inoculate 25 million people this year, less than a third of the population of Germany, where BioNTech is based.
“We will need to find a way to distribute that in a fair fashion,” BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said in an interview.
The partners expect to ramp up production significantly next year, with capacity for as many as 1.3 billion doses.
Novavax COVID-19 vaccine received a fast-track designation from U.S. regulators as the drugmaker prepares to launch a large, late-stage study before the end of the month, Bloomberg reported. The expedited review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help push the candidate forward into a short-list of frontrunners in the race to bring a vaccine to market.
Shipping containers have become a hot commodity as shortages plague transpacific routes, Bloomberg reported. The dearth is boosting the purchase price of new containers and lease rates by 50%, snarling port traffic, adding surcharges and slowing deliveries heading into the holidays.
A surge in Chinese exports and robust consumer demand in the U.S. help explain the tightness, and major shipping liners like Hapag-Lloyd AG are scrambling to reposition their bigger 40-foot-long containers from less busy parts of the world. Nico Hecker, Hapag-Lloyd’s director of global container logistics, dubbed it a “black swan” moment.
The German sea-freight company is “experiencing the strongest increase in 40-foot demand following one of the strongest decreases in demand ever,” Hecker said in a post on the company’s website. “The containers must be returned to China as quickly as possible to be equipped for an expected strong fourth quarter.”
Italy will add over 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in spending with the latest relief package for businesses hit by the country’s second lockdown, Bloomberg reported. Activities hurt by the latest restrictions will receive as much as 200% of the benefits they received during the first lockdown.
Italians are prohibited from leaving or entering cities in high-risk areas, including Milan, Italy’s financial hub, and northern industrial cities. All non-essential commercial activities are closed in the area.
Joe Biden plans to name on Monday a 12-member task force to fight and contain the spread of the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.
The move is a signal that the coronavirus is Biden’s immediate priority for his transition and his administration. But while the president-elect can begin to lay the groundwork for a more muscular approach and a vastly different messaging campaign than President Trump, Biden will have to wait until he is officially inaugurated on Jan. 20 to put any of those plans into place.
The task force will be led by three co-chairs: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith from Yale University.
A United Nations gauge of food prices rose for a fifth month to the highest since January, nearing a multiyear peak set just before the coronavirus crisis took hold, Bloomberg reported. Last month’s increase was largely fueled by a rally in grains, with the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization cutting estimates for crop production and stockpiles as adverse weather threatens corn and wheat supplies.
Rising food prices risk pushing up inflation and come as economies are struggling with the pandemic and many nations contend with a hunger crisis. Agricultural commodity buyers from Egypt to Pakistan have been boosting purchases of grains in efforts to protect themselves from potential supply chain disruptions, keeping inventories in key exporting nations under pressure.
U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak extended furlough payments to employees of shuttered companies until the end of March, Bloomberg reported. Government payments of 80% of wages for workers at companies forced to close because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions will continue after the end of the partial English lockdown on Dec. 2, Sunak said.
AstraZeneca Plc is poised to unveil coronavirus vaccine test results by year-end and to begin supplying the world with hundreds of millions of doses shortly afterward if it gains approval from regulators, Bloomberg reported. Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot dismissed reports of delays and manufacturing snags.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it should have enough of its COVID-19-fighting antibody to treat 80,000 patients by the end of the month, and 200,000 doses of the medication that President Trump dubbed a “cure” by the first week of January, Bloomberg reported.
The company plans to produce another 100,000 doses to fulfill its $450 million contract with the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed by the end of January. It submitted data to support an emergency use authorization of the experimental antibody cocktail last month.
The U.K. is expected to unveil details of a wage support program Thursday, amid calls for more generous help for people who can’t work due to coronavirus restrictions, Bloomberg reported.
The Treasury announced Saturday it would extend furlough payments at 80% of employee wages until Dec. 2 to support workers during a second lockdown that starts Thursday. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is due to announce further extending the program beyond Dec. 2 in areas under the highest levels of restrictions, the Sun newspaper said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government has reached agreements for Novavax Inc. to supply 40 million vaccine doses and a Pfizer/BioNTech partnership to provide 10 million vaccine doses, Bloomberg reported. The agreements mean that Australia has now secured access to four COVID-19 vaccines and more than 134 million doses, with a total investment of A$3.2 billion ($2.3 billion).
The U.K. is struggling to stock up on supplies of a potentially game-changing vaccine, according to Bloomberg. Kate Bingham, chair of the U.K. Vaccine Taskforce, said only 4 million doses of the experimental shot being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will be available by the end of the year, far fewer than the 30 million that were due to be ready by September.
The question is moot for now given that no vaccine has been approved for use and trials are still ongoing. But the difficulties cast doubt on how fast the U.K. will be able to deploy a vaccine that officials see as potentially critical in allowing life to return to normal. AstraZeneca declined to comment.
As a resurgent coronavirus sweeps across Europe and the U.S., some health experts are calling for a “cluster-busting” approach to contact tracing like the one Japan and other countries in Asia have used with success, Bloomberg reported.
Rather than simply tracking down the contacts of an infected person and isolating them, proponents advocate finding out where the individual caught COVID-19 in the first place. That extra step, known as backward tracing, exploits a weak spot of the virus — the tendency for infections to occur in clusters, often at super-spreading events.
The approach has implications for policy makers, who are again imposing costly lockdowns across much of Europe and parts of the U.S. after containment strategies that relied on existing testing and tracing largely failed. The message from health officials and cluster-busting proponents is to take heart and press on; there’s room for improvement.
More liquefied natural gas is being traded than a year ago for the first time since the pandemic upended consumption. Global imports in October rose 3.8% from a year earlier, the first monthly year-over-year gain since May, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. They rose 1.5% from September.
The rebound can be primarily attributed to an increase in demand from larger end-users in Asia, which have mostly weathered the pandemic better than Europe or the U.S.
A state security agency has stepped in to help Britain’s National Health Service repel a surge in cyber crime linked to the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. Some 723 online incidents required the direct intervention of the National Cyber Security Centre in the 12 months to Aug. 31, a 10% increase from the same period ending in August 2019, the agency said. About 200 of the attacks were related to the coronavirus.
The NCSC’s response included an assessment of the state-run health service’s vulnerabilities. This uncovered weaknesses including about 35 internet domains that could be exposed to malicious activity.
Since March, the intelligence agency said it had taken down 15,354 campaigns using coronavirus to lure people into clicking links which could have led to phishing and malware. Many of the 22,000 malicious web addresses it tackled hosted scams playing on COVID-19 fears like pretending to sell personal protection equipment.
Six Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have started a single cross-border transit regime for smoother movement of goods by land within the region, Bloomberg reported. The system aims to bolster supply chain connectivity across the region, simplifying customs, saving time and reducing costs.
Other nations where Asean Customs Transit System (ACTS) will be implemented include Cambodia and Laos, according to a joint statement issued by the Singapore Customs and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“The launch of ACTS reflects ASEAN’s determination to simplify customs procedures and strengthen supply chain connectivity, despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the statement. “Traders can carry out a single transit journey across participating Asean member states via a single truck, single customs declaration and single banker’s guarantee.”
A federal judge dismissed New York warehouse workers’ lawsuit against Amazon, ruling that their allegations about the company’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic should have been brought to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration instead, Bloomberg reported.
The lawsuit filed in June accused Amazon of creating a “public nuisance” by exacerbating COVID-19 risks, including by maintaining a “culture of workplace fear” in which workers are told to “work at dizzying speeds, even if doing so prevents them from socially distancing, washing their hands, and sanitizing their work spaces.”
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn, New York, ruled that the federal agency was better situated “to strike a balance between maintaining some level of operations in conjunction with some level of protective measures,” given courts’ lack of expertise on workplace safety and public health, and the risk that judges around the country would reach conflicting conclusions.
“Court-imposed workplace policies could subject the industry to vastly different, costly regulatory schemes in a time of economic crisis,” he wrote.
Last month saw a fourth consecutive increase in euro-area factory output, underpinned by stronger demand from within the region and beyond, Bloomberg reported. Companies remained positive about future production, but still continued to cut staff.
“Euro-zone manufacturing boomed in October, with output and order books growing at rates rarely exceeded over the past two decades,” said Chris Williamson, an economist at IHS Markit. “While the data bode well for production during the fourth quarter, the expansion is worryingly uneven.”
Germany was the stand-out performer, benefiting from strong demand for cars, business equipment and machinery. Austria, Italy and Spain also saw solid expansions.
“While manufacturing as a whole may be booming for now, the sustainability of the recovery will depend on household behavior returning to normal and labor markets strengthening,” said Williamson. “Given second waves of virus infections, this still looks some way off.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for setting up independent and controllable supply chains to ensure industrial and national security, just as the U.S. moves to cut China off from key exports, Bloomberg reported.
“We must strive to have at least one alternative source for key products and supply channels, to create a necessary industrial backup system,” Xi said in an April speech on the nation’s economic development that was published Saturday by the Qiushi Journal, a publication of the ruling Communist Party. The magazine didn’t say why it had waited to release the remarks.
Xi said the impact of the pandemic exposed hidden risks in China’s industrial and supply chains, without elaborating, thus necessitating “independent, controllable, safe, and reliable” chains. Last week, Beijing outlined strategies for greater self-sufficiency as it unveiled its five-year economic plan.
New York Governor Cuomo gathered top Black leaders to amplify his concern that the federal plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine relies too heavily on chain pharmacies and other institutions lacking in minority neighborhoods, Bloomberg reported.
His criticism was echoed in a call with reporters on Sunday by National Urban League President Marc Morial, NAACP President Derrick Johnson and New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who would not rule out litigation as a response.
“This plan to rely on the current health care infrastructure which has not served us well is thoughtless, it’s careless and needs to be taken back to the drawing board,” Morial said.
About a dozen pharmacy chains will partner with the U.S. federal government to administer COVID-19 vaccines, Bloomberg reported.
CVS Health Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Walmart Inc. are among those that have enrolled to receive vaccines directly from the CDC. They represent about 35,000 stores, and the CDC anticipates more chains will sign up. Participating pharmacies are expected to start administering vaccines during phase two, when more doses become available.
FedEx Corp. is pledging to avoid transportation logjams when a massive operation begins to deliver a vaccine, Bloomberg reported. The air-freight giant will free up whatever capacity is needed to speed the delicate cargo to distributors or vaccination centers, said Richard Smith, executive vice president of the Americas for FedEx Express.
The company is holding daily calls with vaccine developers and U.S. government agencies such as the Defense Department that are in charge of logistics for the roll-out.
Couriers including FedEx, United Parcel Service Inc. and Deutsche Post AG’s DHL are gearing up for a massive airlift and ground-transportation operation in an unprecedented effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines — once they’re ready. Some 15,000 cargo flights will be needed over a two-year period to deliver 10 billion doses, according to a report by DHL and McKinsey & Co.
Ships carrying cargoes around the world are waiting for days to pass through the Panama Canal, as pandemic-hit staffing caused congestion at the key pinch point, Bloomberg reported. Long waiting times are affecting shipments of liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Asia.
The waiting time, which for vessels with unbooked slots is as long as between 10 and 15 days, have contributed to a rally in the cost of chartering an LNG tanker on the spot market and added to disruptions affecting the supply of super-chilled fuel, said people with direct knowledge who asked not to be identified. Delays coupled with soaring charter rates may affect economics of supplies from the U.S. into Asia and force cargo owners to choose alternative routes.
The Panama Canal Authority denied that even vessels with booked slots are experiencing delays, saying waiting time has increased only for vessels that arrive without a reservation.
The U.K.’s drug regulator has started accelerated reviews of COVID-19 vaccines under development from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, as Britain gets ready to approve the first successful shot as quickly as possible, Bloomberg reported.
The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency started a so-called rolling review of the Pfizer vaccine in recent weeks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who didn’t want to be identified because the procedure hasn’t been announced publicly. The agency is also conducting an expedited review of Astra’s vaccine, which the company is co-developing with the University of Oxford, a spokesman for Astra confirmed.
There’s a real risk of cross-border coronavirus transmission through the $1.5 trillion global agri-food market, according to Bloomberg. It’s possible that contaminated food imports can transfer the virus to workers as well as the environment, said Dale Fisher, an infectious diseases physician at Singapore’s National University Hospital
“It’s hitching a ride on the food, infecting the first person that opens the box,” said Fisher, who also chairs the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. “It’s not to be confused with supermarket shelves getting infected. It’s really at the marketplace, before there’s been a lot of dilution.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to three companies “for selling unapproved and misbranded products” with “fraudulent” claims about their effectiveness against COVID-19, Bloomberg reported.
The letters direct Peterson Research Laboratories LLC (doing business as Covercology), Predator Nutrition and Beepothecary LLC to remove the claims and notify the agencies within 48 hours of actions taken, or face potential legal action.
Several U.S. federal agencies warned hospitals and cyber-researchers about a “credible threat” to the security of medical facilities, according to Bloomberg.
The FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security and known as CISA, said they’d received intelligence asserting that hackers were preparing to use Ryuk ransomware to attack medical facilities, using the Trickbot to distribute it, said people familiar with the advisory.
The cybersecurity company FireEye Inc. said multiple U.S hospitals have been hit by a “coordinated” ransomware attack, with at least three publicly confirming being struck this week.
New York’s technology and finance bosses are tempering their expectations for bringing people back to work, Bloomberg reported.
Only 15% of office workers are projected to return by the end of this year, according to the Partnership for New York City, which surveyed major employers in Manhattan over the past two weeks. That’s down from an August estimate of 26%.
Boeing Co. is almost doubling its planned job cuts as the pandemic and prolonged grounding of the 737 Max jet dim prospects for financial recovery, Bloomberg reported. Executives abandoned a forecast that the company would stop burning cash next year and said they would eliminate an additional 7,000 jobs. That will bring the expected loss from layoffs, retirements and attrition to 30,000 people — or 19% of the pre-pandemic workforce — by the end of 2021.
“COVID-19’s continued impacts have had a more prolonged and deeper impact on our industry, and we’ll have to further reduce our workforce,” Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun told analysts after the company reported earnings.
Microsoft Corp.’s first-quarter revenue climbed a better-than-projected 12%, strengthened by corporate demand for cloud-computing services to support customers’ remote workers and move more of their business online, Bloomberg reported. It was the software maker’s 13th straight quarter of double-digit revenue growth.
Since the pandemic started, business customers have accelerated a shift to Microsoft’s Azure internet-based computing services and online subscriptions to Office software that comes with teleconferencing programs and work-from-home tools. That’s helped shore up growth at the company, which is No. 2 in cloud infrastructure behind Amazon Web Services, even as the global economy languishes.
Sales of video games have also risen with people looking for ways to pass the time while stuck at home. That’s made up for weaker one-time software purchases by smaller businesses and consumers.
Many European airports will struggle to stave off insolvency without state help unless travel recovers from its pandemic slump by the end of the year, according to Bloomberg.
Airports Council International Europe predicts that 193 out of 740 airports in the region will soon struggle to pay their bills while government-imposed quarantine requirements remain in place, according to findings released Tuesday. The airfields in doubt are mainly smaller, regional hubs but still account for about 277,000 jobs, ACI said.
European passenger numbers fell 73% year-on-year in September, meaning the region has lost 1.29 billion travelers since January.
In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, Paderborn airport has already filed for insolvency after passenger numbers fell 85%.
Cadila Healthcare Ltd., one of two Indian drugmakers racing to develop an indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, is in talks with potential partners to ramp up production capacity if its candidate passes human clinical trials, Bloomberg reported.
The Ahmedabad-based firm is looking to hire contract manufacturers for an additional 50 million to 70 million doses of its plasmid DNA vaccine, on top of the 100 million that will come from its own capacity, according to Managing Director Sharvil Patel. He declined to name the companies and the amount Cadila has invested in developing the vaccine.
Americans are rushing to pharmacies in record numbers for seasonal flu shots, according to Bloomberg. Public health officials say that may help avoid a “twindemic.” The pandemic has brought new urgency to this year’s influenza season, which typically kicks off in October and peaks in the winter months.
CVS Health Corp. has already surpassed the 9 million flu shots it gave during the entire previous season and expects to double that number by the end of this cycle, a spokesman said. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. has administered 60% more doses in its U.S. stores than at this point last year, said Rina Shah, group vice president of pharmacy operations.
Hasbro Inc. reported solid sales in the third quarter as parents flocked to well-known brands like Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering to pass the time during lockdown, Bloomberg reported.
The largest U.S. toymaker’s revenue fell 4% on a pro forma basis to $1.78 billion — beating analysts’ predictions of $1.74 billion — after reporting third-quarter sales that disappointed investors in contrast with rival Mattel Inc.’s results last week. Excluding Entertainment One, which Hasbro acquired earlier this year, revenue rose 13%. Adjusted profit was $1.88 a share, topping estimates of $1.60, led by its games segment.
Hasbro said it has worked through issues with its supply chain. About half of its products come from China, where manufacturing returned to normal during the second quarter. Factories in Europe, the U.S. and India were operational during the third quarter, but still making up for earlier delays.
SAP SE cut its revenue forecast for the full year and said it expects the pandemic to hurt demand through “at least” the first half of 2021, Bloomberg reported.
The pandemic will delay SAP’s goals for cloud revenue, overall sales and operating profit by one or two years, especially in hard-hit industries, the German software company said. Adjusted cloud revenue is expected to be 8 billion euros to 8.2 billion euros in 2020, down from a previous estimate of 8.3 billion euros to 8.7 billion euros.
The previous outlook “assumed economies would reopen and population lockdowns would ease, leading to a gradually improving demand environment in the third and fourth quarters,” SAP said in the statement.
China is stocking up on grains, metals and other commodities, providing a boost to industrial bulk shipping companies as Beijing braces for a potential new wave of supply-chain disruptions from rising COVID-19 infections among the country’s Western trading partners, The Wall Street Journal reported.
China is the world’s biggest commodity importer, making up roughly 40% of the dry-bulk shipping market, and its rebounding economy has been driving a surge in prices for industrial commodities, including copper, aluminum and cotton.
With China’s overall imports up 13.2% in September from the same month last year, shipping executives expect an increase in freight rates over the next year.
Universal masking in the U.S. could save 130,000 lives by the end of February, according to projections by some of the nation’s top COVID-19 trackers at the University of Washington.
The analysis models the impact of different levels of social distancing on the trajectory of the pandemic from this fall to the end of February 2021, Bloomberg reported.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it’s on track to distribute the masks to support school re-openings: “These masks support students, teachers, and staff in public and private schools, with an emphasis on low-income or other high-needs students and schools providing in-person instruction.”
Airbus SE is preparing to ramp up output next year of its most important jet, the A320neo, in a sign of growing confidence that jetliner demand is poised to recover, Bloomberg reported.
While no decision has been made, suppliers have been told to be ready to support a monthly rate of 47 A320neo-family planes in the second half of 2021, Airbus said. The company slashed the target rate of its popular single-aisle workhorse by a third in April, when demand evaporated as the coronavirus crisis gutted travel demand.
“We plan to maintain the rate 40 up till summer next year and we have asked the supply chain to protect up to rate 47 to be prepared for when the market recovers,” Airbus said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral therapy remdesivir on Thursday, Bloomberg reported, granting broad clearance for the coronavirus treatment.
Regulators had granted an emergency-use authorization for remdesivir earlier this year, and since then the drug has become a widely used therapy in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. It was given to President Trump this month when he was diagnosed with the virus.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell for the third time in four weeks, Bloomberg reported, suggesting the labor market is still gradually recovering while remaining far from its pre-pandemic health.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs declined to 787,000 in the week ended Oct. 17, according to Labor Department data Thursday. Without adjustments for seasonal fluctuations, claims dropped by about 73,000.
Continuing claims — the total pool of Americans on ongoing state unemployment benefits — fell by 1.02 million to 8.37 million in the week ended Oct. 10, though the number of Americans on extended unemployment benefits rose. That reflects people who exhausted regular state benefits.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak increased the generosity of the U.K. aid package for businesses hamstrung by the resurgent coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reported, his third push in less than a month to stop a wave of job losses sweeping across the country.
Sunak increased government contributions to workers’ wages, and reduced the hours they have to work in order to qualify for a state program to support employees’ pay. He also stepped up help for the self-employed and announced a package of grants to businesses that aren’t required to close, but are suffering because of coronavirus restrictions.
“It is clear that even businesses who can stay open are facing profound economic uncertainty,” Sunak told the House of Commons.
The changes follow bitter rows between Boris Johnson’s government and local leaders in northern England over the scale of support to businesses that face a winter of uncertainty after being forced to close their doors again.
AutoNation Inc., the largest U.S. car retailer, is warning new-vehicle inventories remain thin as automakers miss resupply deadlines — which may mean fewer choices and higher prices for buyers, Bloomberg reported. Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson said he expects shortages will last at least through the end of the year.
U.S. carmakers have struggled to ramp up production after a two-month long shutdown this spring to contain COVID-19. While consumer demand has rebounded thanks to low interest rates and a shift towards private transportation, automakers have been stretched thin by absenteeism, distancing protocols, quarantines and supply-chain constraints.
Auto dealers have been selling more used cars to supplement the shortage of vehicles rolling off assembly lines. They’ve also benefited from rising prices: AutoNation reported record third-quarter results due partly to greater pricing power.
New York City officials are beginning to plan for wide-scale distribution of a COVID-19 virus vaccine next year, Bloomberg reported.
Acting on state recommendations, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would prioritize delivery of the vaccine to health-care workers, front line and essential workers and those whose medical conditions or age makes them most vulnerable to the virus.
Pharmacies, urgent-care clinics, public and private hospitals and current Covid testing sites will be used as inoculation centers for the general population in a second phase of distribution.
About half of U.K. firms are less prepared for Brexit compared to last year due to the impact of the pandemic, Bloomberg reported, a sign of Britain’s vulnerability to disruption when it quits the European Union’s single market and customs union at year-end.
Some 46% of businesses say they are in a worse position due to the virus, which has depleted financial reserves and stockpiles, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, which questioned 557 U.K. supply-chain managers between Sept. 23 and Oct. 5. And 16% of companies say stocks will run low this winter because of the impact of COVID-19.
The U.K. government has increased the urgency of its campaign to urge businesses to prepare for Britain’s final split from the EU on Jan 1., when companies will face new red tape such as customs declarations to keep goods flowing with its largest trading partner. Even if the U.K. and the bloc sign a trade deal — which has looked increasingly unlikely with negotiations on the rocks — companies will need to comply with new formalities to legal trade.
“The transition period was designed to provide businesses with more time to prepare for Brexit, but the COVID-19 pandemic has undone much of that hard work,” said John Glen, an economist at CIPS, which has 70,000 members globally. “Deal or no-deal, time is running out.”
Domestic U.S. airfares fell by the most on record in the second quarter, Bloomberg reported. Average one-way ticket prices plummeted 26% from the same period last year to $151, including taxes and fees, according to 20 years of airfare figures compiled by Cirium.
Previously, the largest decline was 14% in late 2001, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the aviation-data provider said Tuesday.
Procter & Gamble Co. raised its outlook after posting its best organic sales growth since 2005 amid a boom in at-home consumption of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, Bloomberg reported.
The maker of Tide detergent and Dawn dish soap said organic sales growth, which strips out some items like currency swings, rose 9% in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Sales grew in each of P&G’s business units, led by the fabric and home care segment, which has spiked as consumers do more dishes, laundry and cleaning at home.
The company now sees organic revenue growing 4% to 5% in fiscal 2021, an increase from the previous outlook of 2% to 4%.
Many people’s hopes for a speedy vaccine are still too high, Roche Holding AG CEO Severin Schwan warned.
It is “completely unrealistic” to expect a COVID-19 vaccine to be widely available by the end of this year, and most people probably won’t have access to a shot until the second half of 2021, Schwan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
California will require a panel of health experts to review any coronavirus vaccine before allowing it to be distributed to the state’s 40 million residents, Bloomberg reported. The 11-member panel — which includes scientists and doctors from California universities and public-health departments — will verify the safety and efficacy of any shot even after it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“This vaccine will move at the speed of trust,” Governor Newsom said at a news briefing.
The state also is working on guidelines to ensure the equitable distribution of what’s expected to be a limited early supply of the vaccine, Newsom said, noting that the “overwhelming majority” of people won’t see shots readily available until well into 2021.
While the race to develop a vaccine has become a political issue, Newsom said the group will review the shot regardless of the outcome of the November presidential election.
CVS Health Corp. said it will hire about 15,000 workers to help with flu season, coronavirus testing and possibly administering COVID-19 vaccines, Bloomberg reported. Two-thirds of the new hires will be pharmacy technicians, the company said.
China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said it found active COVID-19 virus on the outer component of refrigerated food packaging, according to Bloomberg.
The virus was found on food packaging in the coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong province, the report said, without specifying the origin of the product. Qingdao has reported a dozen new virus cases this month, most linked to a hospital where infected travelers from overseas are being treated.
China has said several times in recent months that imported refrigerated goods are risks for re-introducing the coronavirus into the country. World Health Organization experts have suggested there’s no evidence the virus can be transported via food packaging.
Nancy Pelosi has set a Tuesday deadline for more progress with the White House on a fiscal stimulus deal before the Nov. 3 election, Bloomberg reported, while President Trump renewed his offer to go beyond the dollar amounts now on the table.
The U.S. budget shortfall ballooned to more than $3.1 trillion in the government’s fiscal year ended in September, Bloomberg reported.
The deficit as a share of the economy surged to 16%, the largest since 1945, based on second-quarter gross domestic product. At the end of the financial crisis in 2009, the ratio was close to 10% before slowly narrowing through 2015.
After pulling together over $100 billion by tapping government aid, mortgaging assets including planes and frequent flier programs, airlines likely have enough cash to withstand a prolonged downturn, according to The Wall Street Journal. But it will be years before passenger demand recovers, chief executives of United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. said this week.
“Make no mistake — we’re still in the early miles of this marathon,” Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian wrote in a memo to employees on Thursday.
Passengers have started to come back, but they are a trickle, not a surge. On Sunday, when almost 1 million people passed through U.S. airports, volumes were more than 60% lower than at the same time a year ago, and most days volumes are worse than that.
“We’ve got 12 to 15 months of pain, sacrifice and difficulty ahead,” United Chief Executive Scott Kirby said during a conference call Thursday to discuss the airline’s third quarter results.
New-car sales in Europe rose last month for the first time this year, a sign that the global auto industry is slowly beginning to pull out of its worst slump in decades, The Wall Street Journal reported. A full recovery is still likely to take years, analysts said.
The European Automotive Manufacturers’ Association said Friday that new-car registrations, a proxy for sales, totaled 1.3 million vehicles, an increase of 1.1% from the previous year. That compares with an increase of 6.2% for the month in the U.S.
In September, sales at Volkswagen AG, which includes Audi, Porsche, Seat and Skoda, rose 14%, making it the fastest-growing car maker in the region. Audi was the best-performing automaker in Europe last month, posting a 48% sales increase. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s European sales rose 14%, and those of Toyota Motor Corp. increased nearly 9%.
President Trump said he was ready to boost his offer for spending in a fiscal-stimulus package, a bid that was quickly rejected by his fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Bloomberg reported.
“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” McConnell said of the administration's offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats.
As he trails in polls with the election less that three weeks away, Trump said on Fox Business Thursday that he would go still higher than the $1.8 trillion the White House has already floated to get a deal. He blamed Pelosi, who wants a $2.2 trillion package, for standing in the way.
Pelosi, speaking to Democrats in a private conference call later Thursday, mocked Trump for facing opposition from his own party, according to a person on the call. She said while she doesn’t want to wait until January — when Joe Biden might be sworn in as president — to pass the next stimulus package, Democrats cannot give up fighting for their values, according to the person.
Canned-corn brands are planning to increase production, as stockpiling and supply-chain disruptions have “drastically” thinned out the market, The Wall Street Journal reported. Retailers expect high demand this winter will cut deeper into their depleted inventories.
U.S. sweet corn has only a single planting season, and those had already been set by the time the production shortfall became clear. Transportation problems then hit the market as harvesting began. Fleets that had shrunk last year couldn’t handle the early surge in new demand and trucking companies began rejecting loads on existing contracts to take higher rates in the spot market, driving up shipping costs.
The global aviation industry will take at least two years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and mass travel to return, Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said, stressing the importance of developing a widely available and effective vaccine to help countries open their borders.
“When a vaccine is widely available around the world and people gain confidence to travel again and visit other countries, then we will have aviation back on its feet, almost fully,” Ong said an interview with Bloomberg Television. “How long that will that take, I can’t make a guess, I would say minimally a couple of years.”
The chances of Congress passing a pre-election stimulus are all but gone, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday blamed politics for undermining the months-long negotiations, Bloomberg reported.
“At this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are in the level of details,” Mnuchin said at the Milken Institute Global Conference.
With a deal out of reach, the two sides in the talks faulted each other for the breakdown.
Ireland’s government unleashed a record package of budget measures to counter the dual threats of Brexit and the pandemic, as new restrictions threaten to derail a nascent economic recovery, Bloomberg reported. Speaking to lawmakers in Dublin on Tuesday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the entire 2021 budget package is worth close to 18 billion euros ($21.2 billion), with most being earmarked for a fund to deal with the virus and Brexit, more health spending and other measures.
European Union aid rules were loosened again to allow governments to cover as much as 3 million euros ($3.5 million) of companies’ fixed costs as the European economy suffers the steepest recession in living memory, Bloomberg reported.
The world’s transition to cleaner sources of energy is gaining speed as the pandemic accelerates a shift in investment away from fossil fuels, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Capital spending on energy this year is set to plunge by 18%, as global energy demand is expected to fall by 5% in 2020, a pullback not seen since World War II, the International Energy Agency said in its annual report on the future of the industry.
But the projected investment cuts are highly uneven, highlighting a divergence in what companies, markets and investors are willing to finance. Spending on new oil and gas supplies took the largest hits, while renewable energy held up better than any other source, the IEA found. The pandemic weakened corporate balance sheets and increased uncertainty over future fuels demand, spurring the record cuts.
Solar- and wind-energy projects are benefiting from falling costs, as well as widespread government support, and monetary policies that support low interest rates. The IEA expects renewables to provide 80% of the growth in global electricity demand through 2030.
A surge in remote work, study and home entertainment during the pandemic boosted personal computer sales in the third quarter and drove the strongest growth in a decade in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal.
Much of the growth came from Chromebooks, with a roughly 90% surge in the third quarter driven by distance learning, especially in the U.S., according to preliminary data from Gartner Inc. World-wide PC shipments rose around 9% year over year in the quarter, with Chromebooks representing about 11% of the combined PC/Chromebook market.
Data from research firm Canalys showed notebook and mobile workstation shipments also driving growth in the quarter, while sales of desktops and desktop workstations declined 26%.
The pandemic will exact a $16 trillion toll on the U.S.. about four times the cost of the Great Recession, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and fellow Harvard University economist David Cutler wrote in an essay published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
About half of that amount is related to lost gross domestic product as a result of economic shutdowns and the ongoing spread of the virus, while the other half comes from health losses including premature death and mental and long-term health impairments, Cutler and Summers said.
The $16 trillion amount is equal to about 90% of annual U.S. GDP; it’s also more than twice as much as the U.S. has spent on wars since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Bloomberg.
China’s joining of a global push to make coronavirus vaccines accessible for developing nations brings to 180 the number of countries participating in the World Health Organization-backed initiative — representing 90% of the global population, Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said Monday. While the U.S. hasn’t joined the $18 billion effort, called Covax, the breadth of participants is encouraging, Bloomberg reported.
Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries not to pursue “herd immunity.” The vast majority of people haven’t yet been infected and questions remain about how long immunity lasts and the long-term effects of COVID-19, he said.
“Herd immunities are achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said. “Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. It’s scientifically and ethically problematic.”
Oil dropped for a second day as operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico started to resume following Hurricane Delta and Libya took a major step toward reopening its biggest field, Bloomberg reported.
Futures in New York fell toward $40 a barrel after closing down 1.4% Friday as oil workers in Norway called off a strike. Crude explorers and tugboat operators got back to work on Saturday after Delta, which had seen about 92% of oil production and 62% of gas output shuttered. The hurricane and hopes for more U.S. fiscal stimulus contributed to a price jump of almost 10% last week.
Libya’s National Oil Corp. lifted force majeure on the western deposit of the Sharara field and instructed its operator to resume production, according to a statement on Sunday. Sharara’s output will reach its daily capacity of almost 300,000 barrels in 10 days, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
The resumption of supply from the North African country is an added headache for the OPEC+ alliance as it considers whether to proceed with a plan to restore more output in January. With coronavirus cases accelerating in many countries, the group faces a tough decision at its next policy meeting on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
“We have supply coming back to the market, while there is still plenty of concern over demand, with the flaring up in COVID-19 cases in parts of Europe,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank NV in Singapore. With Libya coming back, the market is close to balance, but it will depend on demand assumptions, he said.
President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed each other for a lack of progress on a new plan to support the U.S. economy, while a senior White House aide said he expects talks to continue and a Fed official called for fiscal help, Bloomberg reported.
U.S. officials are looking to open travel between New York City and London with shortened traveler quarantine periods as soon as the holidays, Bloomberg reported.
Officials at the U.S. Transportation Department, Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have considered the increasing availability of COVID-19 tests in the U.S. as an opening path to implementing safe travel corridors between the country and international destinations.
A Homeland Security official told Dow Jones that the agency’s work was in its early stages as it seeks to safely encourage transatlantic travel while considering public-health risks.
The International Monetary Fund says lifting lockdowns is unlikely to lead to a decisive and sustained economic boost as long as COVID-19 infections remain elevated, Bloomberg reported, because people will probably keep avoiding social interactions out of fear of contracting the virus.
IMF research shows that while government lockdowns contributed significantly to the global recession, the slowdown was also driven in large part by people continuing to exercise voluntary social distancing, the fund said.
Johnson & Johnson announced it has reached an agreement with the European Union to supply 200 million doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine following an approval or authorization from regulators, Bloomberg reported. EU member states also have the option to secure as many as 200 million additional doses. Financial terms were not disclosed.
J&J recently joined a handful of companies that has launched into late-stage human studies. In September, the health-care behemoth began dosing as many as 60,000 volunteers in a trial of its one-shot COVID-19 inoculation. The trial could yield results as soon as year-end, allowing the company to seek emergency authorization early next year, should it prove effective.
A COVID-19 vaccine is looking “unlikely” by year-end, according to the head of the European medicines regulator, even as the agency conducts accelerated reviews of two front-runners for a successful shot, Bloomberg reported.
“Technically, of course it’s possible. Practically it’s very difficult — it’s very unlikely,” said Guido Rasi, executive director of the European Medicines Agency. Even if drugmakers “submit the data in a few weeks, we are already approaching middle of October, so if we wait a few weeks and we take a minimum time of evaluation, more or less we are at the end of the year.”
Boris Johnson’s government has drawn up rescue plans for U.K. businesses struggling to cope in areas that have been forced into local Covid lockdowns, as ministers consider imposing new restrictions within days.
No firm date has been set for rolling out the package, which is dependent on the evolution of the pandemic and changes to the rules, according to Bloomberg.
Amazon.com Inc. called on other large companies to share the results of their workplace COVID-19 testing and disclose the rate at which employees are quarantining, The Wall Street Journal reported. So far, their answer appears to be no.
Companies including Walmart Inc., Ford Motor Co., Kroger Co. and Smithfield Foods Inc. have provided COVID-19 diagnostic testing to workers with varying degrees of regularity. Some employees are tested daily and others every week. Some firms ship swabs to the homes of employees who fear they have been infected, while others host on-site testing.
Many companies are loath to share their results publicly beyond what they must relay to public health agencies because they aren’t required to. Some find publishing the information burdensome and don’t want to open themselves up to criticism if trends take a turn for the worse, testing advisers say.
Amazon last week said more than 19,000 of its workers had tested positive for COVID-19, fewer than it expected and below the case rate in most states. It has faced criticism for being slow to communicate worker infections early on in the pandemic.
“Wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries,” the company wrote in a blog post, adding that there are no common reporting or data-sharing standards. It regularly screens workers regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called on governments to ensure that when a vaccine arrives it’s administered to “some in all countries, rather than all people in some countries,” Bloomberg reported.
“It’s natural that governments want to protect their own citizens first,” he said at a global security forum in Bratislava, Slovakia. “But once a vaccine is approved, production will be limited initially and we must decide who to prioritize. Vaccinating older people, those with underlying conditions and essential workers in all countries is the best way to suppress transmission everywhere.”
The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program has asked vaccine makers to hold off filing for an emergency authorization of a COVID-19 shot until they can manufacture several million doses, Bloomberg reported.
The program has told the companies it supports to refrain from filing “if they achieve efficacy demonstration while there are no vaccine doses available at industrial scale at several million doses,” said Moncef Slaoui, Warp Speed’s chief adviser.
With several vaccines already in the final stage of testing, the possibility that one may have the data needed to apply for clearance is drawing closer. Slaoui suggested that authorizing a vaccine without being able to make it might be a “major disappointment” to the public.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to have an expert panel review any COVID-19 vaccine application for emergency use, along with at least two months of safety data, according to Bloomberg.
The requirements will almost certainly add to the time it will take to review any vaccine, potentially past President Trump’s goal of having one by Election Day next month. While the FDA has said it plans to work as quickly as possible, it’s also said it won’t cut scientific corners or bend to political pressure to rush a vaccine.
Boris Johnson will commit to boosting U.K. offshore wind power as part of his delayed plan for a “green industrial revolution” as he seeks to get his stalled domestic agenda back on course, Bloomberg reported.
In a speech aimed at regaining a grip over the political agenda after months of negative headlines over his handling of the pandemic, the prime minister will say renewable energy can help drive Britain’s economic regeneration. He will announce 160 million pounds ($208 million) for infrastructure at ports to support companies building turbines off the British coast.
“As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the U.K. is to wind — a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions and without the damage to the environment,” Johnson will say Tuesday, according to extracts of the speech released by his office. “We believe that in 10 years time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country.”
The European Union’s battered aviation industry may soon get some relief from the confusingly wide range of travel curbs across the continent, Bloomberg reported, as the bloc’s governments seek agreement on a common threshold for imposing restrictions.
Under a proposal circulated by the German government, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, restriction-free travel will be allowed between regions with fewer than 25 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people for the previous 14 days, and with a reading of positive virus tests lower than 4%.
The plan is to illustrate the new thresholds using a color-coded map of the 27 nation-EU — plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — to be updated on a weekly basis, according to a draft circulated to diplomats.
If governments agree on the new rules, airlines could gain relief from the current situation of uncoordinated, country-by-country announcements on quarantine requirements for incoming travelers and abrupt travel bans. Confusion over those rules has added to the woes of an industry already pummeled by its worst crisis on record.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government has prepared a priority list for who would receive the coronavirus vaccine first, when one becomes available, Bloomberg reported.
“We’ve set that out in draft, pending the final clinical data,” he said at the Conservative Party conference. “The plans are in train. A combination of the NHS and the armed forces are involved in the logistics, making the roll-out happen.”
Hancock said they are working as fast they can to get a vaccine, though no vaccine technology is certain.
Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller told Dutch TV show “Buitenhof” that the grocer has done well during the pandemic because of increased online sales and less eating out. Second-quarter profit doubled to almost 700 million euros ($820 million), Bloomberg reported. Muller reiterated that the virus also comes with extra costs. He said he expects 600 million euros in costs over the whole year because of extra security and cleaning expenses.
The grocer, which operates the Stop & Shop chain in the U.S. and Albert Heijn in the Netherlands, is scheduled to report third-quarter results on Nov. 4. Ahold Delhaize’s sales momentum is set to improve in the fourth quarter as COVID-19 cases increase and more consumers shift to eating at home, Kepler Cheuvreux said last week.
The House passed a $2.2 trillion Democrat-only fiscal stimulus package after the most concerted talks between the top negotiators since early August failed to yield a bipartisan agreement, Bloomberg reported.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier insisted the vote — which at 214-207 saw no Republican support — wouldn’t slam the door on negotiations with the White House on a bill President Trump could sign into law. After sitting down with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin Wednesday, she spoke with him several times by phone again Thursday.
Those talks have so far failed to bridge what’s been a gap of hundreds of billions of dollars between the two sides. Sharp differences also remain on components of coronavirus relief, with the Trump administration rejecting the scale of aid Democrats want for state and local authorities, and Pelosi demanding the end of tax breaks she says are devoted to the wealthy.
The speaker told reporters Thursday evening that she would review documents that Mnuchin had sent her to determine where to go next after several calls during the day. “We are going back and forth with our paper,” she said, underscoring the importance of the language used in any deal.
Amazon.com Inc. says it’s aware of almost 20,000 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic, a disclosure that follows criticism from some lawmakers and employees that the world’s largest online retailer was insufficiently transparent about outbreaks within its ranks.
The retailer said in a blog post Thursday that 19,816 employees tested positive for the respiratory disease, or were presumed positive, out of more than 1.3 million people who worked for the company from March 1 to Sept. 19. The company says that if its employees contracted the virus at a rate equal to that of the general population, Amazon would have seen some 33,952 cases.
The bulk of a $1 billion funding package intended to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. has remained unspent since being authorized more than five months ago, according to Bloomberg.
Trump administration officials directed $200 million of the money to a $300 million ad campaign about the virus, according to a CDC spokesman. But most of the allocation has sat idle despite requests over the summer from CDC to access some of the money, according to one person familiar with the matter. Two of the people familiar with the issue confirmed the CDC didn’t have access to the money as recently as September. The people asked not to be identified discussing information that wasn’t public.
Fewer Americans than expected registered for unemployment benefits last week, Bloomberg reported, as the slow labor-market recovery grinds on while businesses contend with an increase in coronavirus cases.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs decreased by 36,000 to 837,000 in the week ended Sept. 26, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Continuing claims, the total pool of Americans on state benefit rolls, fell to 11.8 million in the week ended Sept. 19.
Economists expected initial claims to fall to 850,000 and for continuing claims of 12.2 million.
American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. will start laying off thousands of employees as originally scheduled, Bloomberg reported, spurning an appeal from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as he negotiates with Congress about extending payroll support for U.S. carriers.
The cuts are the latest among tens of thousands of job losses announced by blue-chip companies in a 24-hour period, after Walt Disney Co. said late Tuesday that it’s slashing 28,000 workers in its slumping U.S. resort business. On Wednesday, Allstate Corp., the fourth-largest car insurer in the U.S., said it will cut 3,800 jobs, roughly 8% of its workforce.
Meanwhile, AirAsia Group Bhd. is closing down its operations in Japan, the Nikkei reported, after the low-cost airline posted a record quarterly loss in August.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he sees “one more serious try” at securing a deal with Congress on another fiscal stimulus package and suggested he’ll offer Democrats a proposal for roughly $1.5 trillion in pandemic relief, Bloomberg reported.
Mnuchin said Wednesday on CNBC that the administration’s counter-offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is similar to a plan put forward by a bipartisan group of House members — which included an escalation in spending up to $2 trillion if the coronavirus pandemic persists. That’s still short of a $2.2 trillion relief package that Democrats unveiled Monday and are preparing to bring to a House vote.
The Spanish government reached a last-minute deal to extend its furlough program through January, Bloomberg reported, after weeks of negotiations that left businesses and workers on edge in a country suffering one of Europe’s deepest economic shocks this year.
The European Union’s executive arm aims to sign a second contract with Gilead Sciences Inc. for supplies of its antiviral drug remdesivir, Bloomberg reported. The European Commission said it hopes EU countries will be able to start placing extra orders in early October.
Hospitals in several Indian states are struggling for medical oxygen as the country’s pandemic surges — with more than six million reported infections — and manufacturers scramble to plug the gaps in the supply and transportation, Bloomberg reported.
Most plants producing medical oxygen are concentrated in eastern and western India, leaving large areas of the densely populated north and center without quick access to the essential medical supply. The capital, New Delhi, and the states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, with a combined population of some 200 million, don’t have a single unit manufacturing oxygen.
Oxygen use in September has gone up to 2,800 tons per day, from 750 tons per day in March, said Saket Tiku, president of All India Industrial Gases Manufacturer’s Association.
Apart from the pressure to produce more medical grade oxygen, manufacturers are dealing with a limited number of mobile cryogenic tankers, Tiku added. While the country is managing so far, “going forward we need to be careful and very, very sensitive to oxygen use,” he said.
Carmakers including Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan Motor Co. have joined with lenders to create a network to protect the industry’s supply chain from succumbing to COVID-19 and a no-deal Brexit, Bloomberg reported.
Under the so-called safe harbor plan, suppliers in financial difficulty can lean on carmakers for improved payment terms, and lenders will be called upon to step in with financial assistance, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which is organizing the network.
With Britain’s future relationship with the European Union yet to be agreed, the industry faces the specter of border chaos if the trucks criss-crossing the channel with components are held up. The SMMT‘s goal is to minimize the risk of insolvencies while staying within the boundaries of U.K. and EU competition law.
House Democrats released a scaled back $2.2 trillion proposal to extend support to the U.S. economy in face of the continuing damage from the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. The plan follows through on discussions last week to prompt a last-ditch attempt at negotiations with the White House and break an impasse on COVID-19 relief that’s lasted since early August.
While the details of the legislative text adds clarity to the talks, the top-line spending level is no closer to that so far supported by Republicans. President Trump has indicated he could support as much as $1.5 trillion in aid — still higher than the $650 billion put forth in a “skinny” aid package by Senate Republicans earlier this month.
Should no deal be forthcoming, House Democrats have said they aim to proceed on their own in voting on the new plan, allowing the party’s candidates in the Nov. 3 elections to highlight a recent vote on coronavirus relief. The last vote was on the bigger, $3.4 trillion Heroes Act back in May.
President Trump announced plans to distribute millions of Abbott Laboratories’s 15-minute COVID-19 tests in the coming weeks, a move aimed at expanding access and helping reopen schools, according to Bloomberg.
The federal government expects to ship 150 million of the Abbott rapid tests, based on states’ populations, Trump said at a press conference at the White House. The administration will encourage states — which have ultimate discretion over how to deploy the tests — to use about 100 million to screen teachers, check symptomatic children to see if they have contracted the virus, or conduct baseline surveillance.
The World Health Organization and non-profits including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation say they will help provide access to 120 million antigen tests to 133 low- and middle-income countries that can give results in 15 minutes, Bloomberg reported.
Abbott Laboratories and SD BioSensor are producing the tests, reserving a fifth of their production to countries most in need. Distribution will begin in October, and the tests will cost $5 each or less. The Global Fund is also participating, though further funding is needed.
American Airlines Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said there’s sufficient time for U.S. Congress to agree on extending $25 billion in federal aid that would prevent layoffs for tens of thousands of airline workers on Oct. 1, Bloomberg reported.
American will continue urging Congress to resolve a stalemate and approve the aid as part of a broader economic stimulus package, Parker said Sunday in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” The approaching deadline could spur action, he added.
“I’m confident” the payroll aid will be extended, Parker said. “There’s certainly not much time left, but there’s enough time. Oftentimes, a deadline like this is what is needed to get action. We’re hoping that is the case.”
Supermarkets are stockpiling groceries and storing them early to prepare for the fall and winter months, when some health experts warn the country could see another widespread outbreak of virus cases and new restrictions, The Wall Street Journal reported. Food companies are accelerating production of their most popular items, and leaders across the industry are saying they won’t be caught unprepared in the face of another pandemic surge.
Southeastern Grocers LLC secured holiday turkeys and hams over the summer, months before it normally starts inventory planning, said Chief Executive Anthony Hucker. And grocery wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc. has loaded up on extra inventory of cranberry sauce, herbal tea and cold remedies, said President Chris Testa.
Associated Food Stores recently started building “pandemic pallets” of cleaning and sanitizing products so it always has some inventory in warehouses, said Darin Peirce, vice president of retail operations for the cooperative of more than 400 stores. The company is establishing protocols so it can better manage scenarios of high demand.
These changes, a reaction to the sudden and massive shortages grocers experienced in the spring, amount to a shift from the just-in-time inventory management practices that have guided the fast-moving retail business for decades.
Two workers, both asymptomatic, were responsible for unloading frozen seafood imports, Bloomberg reported. Some of the imported products tested positive for the virus, however they hadn’t yet entered the market and have been sealed, according to a statement by the Qingdao Municipal Health Commission.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats a draft coronavirus relief bill would be about $2.4 trillion because it will include airlines, restaurants and PPP small business aid, according to Bloomberg.
The Democratic leadership is still seeking a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and no decision has been made on whether a bill will be voted on next week.
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits were little changed last week, contrasting with forecasts for a decline and highlighting an economic recovery that’s coming in fits and starts, Bloomberg reported.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose by 4,000 to 870,000 in the period ended Sept. 19, according to Labor Department figures. Continuing claims fell 167,000 to 12.6 million in the week ended Sept. 12, which coincides with the reference period for the government’s monthly jobs report.
President Trump said that the White House could veto any tightening of Food and Drug Administration rules for authorizing the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine, Bloomberg reported.
“That has to be approved by the White House,” Trump said at a news conference on Wednesday. “We may or may not approve it.”
The FDA is expected to issue final rules in coming days for issuing an emergency-use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine. Companies including Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc have vaccine candidates in late-stage trials. Some of the studies could produce data on their efficacy as soon as October.
Unilever Plc and Procter & Gamble Co. are among consumer companies urging world leaders to resolve the plight of more than 300,000 seafarers stuck on commercial vessels, where forced labor and deteriorating working conditions threaten to disrupt the global supply chain, according to Bloomberg.
Chief executives of household consumer brands, from retailer Carrefour SA to food manufacturer Mondelez International Inc. and beverage maker Heineken NV, have signed an open letter calling for measures to allow more crew changes at ports, ensure the safety of overworked seafarers and make sure supply chains don’t use forced labor.
The letter, which was sent to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Wednesday before a General Assembly web conference on seafarers, is the latest call to address a growing humanitarian crisis at sea brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic as cautious governments restrict access to borders and air travel remains curbed. The call to action by more than two dozen CEOs — members of the powerful Consumer Goods Forum that represents 400 of the biggest consumer retailers, manufacturers and service providers — is one of the strongest appeals by business titans to draw attention to the seafarer crisis.
“We are coming to a tipping point if we don’t resolve the issue of crew changes,” Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at Unilever, which spearheaded the letter, said in an interview. “There’s a huge risk that the global supply chain will start failing. It’s an inadvertent situation of forced labor because these seafarers are stuck on these ships. It’s a human rights issue.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak canceled his planned fall budget and prepared to set out a fresh round of job-support measures as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.
Sunak will announce his blueprint to protect jobs from the economic fallout from COVID-19 in a statement to the U.K. Parliament on Thursday, Bloomberg reported, days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed new restrictions on the British public to bring the resurgent virus outbreak under control.
Walmart Inc. will recruit more than 20,000 workers ahead of the U.S. holidays to prepare for an expected surge in online shopping amid the pandemic, its first large seasonal hiring in five years, Bloomberg reported.
The world’s biggest retailer is readying itself for a holiday e-commerce battle with Amazon.com Inc. by bringing on more seasonal staff to handle online orders at its U.S. distribution centers. Walmart has already hired more than 500,000 employees since March across its stores and supply chain.
“Over the past six months, our customers have been shopping differently,” said Scott McCall, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Walmart’s U.S. operations. “We expect that will continue into the most important shopping season of the year — the holidays.”
The International Air Transport Association says universal coronavirus tests for departing passengers offer the only realistic hope of reviving demand for flights in the absence of a vaccine, according to Bloomberg.
The 100% adoption of rapid antigen tests, which should be available next month, would remove any need for quarantines that are currently “killing” the market, IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac said.
Boris Johnson told Britons to work from home when possible and ordered pubs and restaurants to close early as he sought to stamp out a resurgence of coronavirus in the weeks ahead, Bloomberg reported.
Under the new measures for England, which are likely to last six months, face coverings will become mandatory for passengers traveling in taxis and workers in the hospitality and retail sectors, with tougher fines for people failing to wear masks. Similar steps are being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Shippers will probably pay more for freight heading into 2021 after the pandemic lockdown drove many small truckers out of business and cargo demand rebounds faster than the economy, according to Bloomberg.
Demand for cargo shipping plunged in March when schools and offices closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, sending many drivers to seek jobs in the construction industry, said Bob Biesterfeld, CEO of freight broker C.H. Robinson. The company has almost $20 billion of freight under management and contracts with 78,000 trucking companies.
The driver exodus has reduced truck capacity just as retailers begin restocking and freight demand snaps back, Biesterfeld said. Meanwhile, air-freight capacity remains constrained.
“There’s going to be demand coming online that I believe will continue to drive market tightness and pricing inflation,” he said. On top of that, at some point there will be the need for distribution of a vaccine “like we’ve never seen before, and that will clearly create some logistics bottlenecks as well.”
Boris Johnson will announce new restrictions on bars and restaurants and appeal directly to Britons for their support as he seeks to halt a surge in coronavirus cases, Bloomberg reported.
Hospitality venues across England will have to close by 10 p.m. and will be limited to table service only in measures to be announced Tuesday, the prime minister’s office said.
Johnson will consult with senior officials and the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales at a meeting of the so-called Cobra emergency committee in the morning before briefing Parliament on further curbs. He will then make a broadcast to the nation at 8 p.m.
India may have a vaccine for the coronavirus ready by early 2021 but rolling it out safely across 1.3 billion people will be the country’s biggest challenge in fighting its epidemic, according to Bloomberg.
India currently has no local infrastructure in place to go beyond immunizing babies and pregnant women, said Gagandeep Kang, professor of microbiology at the Vellore-based Christian Medical College and a member of the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, who until July was heading the Indian government committee looking into prospective indigenous vaccine candidates.
Oil prices plunged about 5% on Monday, weakening as rising coronavirus cases stoked worries about global demand, and a potential return of Libyan production bolstered oversupply fears, Reuters reported.
Crude oil followed other equities and commodities markets in turning risk-averse on Monday as rising COVID-19 infection rates in Europe and other countries prompted renewed lockdown measures, casting doubt over economic recovery.
“We’re seeing more depressing news on jet fuel demand,” said Gary Cunningham, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “We’re looking for a much softer market. The economic picture doesn’t look as rosy as it did before.”
The closure of passenger air links between the U.S. and the U.K. will strip at least 11 billion pounds ($14.21 billion) off U.K. gross domestic product in 2020, according to a report commissioned by British Airways’ parent IAG SA, London’s Heathrow Airport, the Airlines U.K trade group and airport services firm Collinson Group.
The authors called for the creation of city or state-based travel corridors between the U.S. and the U.K. as well as airport testing for COVID-19. Keeping the routes closed will cost the U.K. economy 32 million pounds a day by the beginning of October, Bloomberg reported.
China’s northeastern city of Changchun found coronavirus particles on the packaging of frozen squid tentacles from Russia, Bloomberg reported.
Authorities reminded residents to be cautious in importing frozen seafood. Meanwhile China reported 12 new cases for September 20, all of which were imported.
The U.K. government must take action to spur a technological revolution that will create a “faster and smarter” economy and equip companies for the post-pandemic world, according to Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane.
The U.K.’s recovery in July was “further and faster” than expected, but a whole new raft of measures are needed, including tax incentives and access to funding, to help millions of businesses adapt, Haldane wrote in a joint paper with former John Lewis Partnership Chairman Charlie Mayfield for the The Mail on Sunday.
The rare policy recommendation comes just weeks before Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils his budget and spending review to save jobs and pump new life into the coronavirus-battered economy, Bloomberg reported.
President Trump would support narrow legislation to provide more financial aid to airlines, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Thursday after meeting with industry executives.
Meadows said the industry needs $25 billion, and that as many as 50,000 jobs are at risk, Bloomberg reported. Airlines have warned that they plan mass reductions after an existing federal prohibition on job cuts expires at the close of business on Sept. 30.
Demand for coronavirus tests is significantly outstripping the capacity available, according to Bloomberg.
The number of people calling the COVID-19 phone helpline and visiting the government website totaled three to four times the number of tests, Dido Harding, head of the National Health Service Test and Trace program, told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on Thursday.
Harding was giving evidence as the government’s testing program comes under increasing pressure to deal with a surge in demand following the return of children to school and as people head back to work. To compound matters, cases are rising exponentially again after falling off over the summer.
The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits resumed its decline, signaling a gradual improvement in the battered labor market, Bloomberg reported.
Jobless claims in regular state programs decreased by 33,000 to 860,000 in the week ended Sept. 12, which coincides with the reference period for the government’s monthly jobs report, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday. Continuing claims, the total number of Americans on state benefit rolls, fell by almost 1 million, to 12.6 million, in the week ended Sept. 5.
Preparations are underway to ensure that vaccines against COVID-19 will be shipped to administration sites within 24 hours of clearance by U.S. regulators, Bloomberg reported. Federal officials issued guidance to states Wednesday that are designed to speed the path of coronavirus shots to the population, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield said in a press conference.
Hundreds of thousands of doses of various candidates, funded by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program, have already been produced in hope that one or more will prove successful in the clinic. State officials have indicated that they want to make sure that the shots are fully tested and deemed safe and effective before they’re used widely.
Big oil traders are rushing to book tankers with a view to storing a glut of refined petroleum like diesel and jet fuel on the world’s oceans, according to Bloomberg.
The bookings come amid a resurgence in the number of new coronavirus cases which the International Energy Agency and OPEC expect will hit oil demand, serving as a reminder of chronic oversupply that led to traders storing millions of barrels of excess crude and fuels on tankers earlier in the year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released performance data late Tuesday for a slew of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, in an effort to help doctors, labs and patients evaluate competing products, Bloomberg reported. There are more than 100 tests on the market for COVID-19. Since the early days of the pandemic, when tests were in short supply in the U.S., companies have rushed to fill the gap with a range of screening options.
Japan’s exports fell in August at the slowest pace in five months as the virus receded in key markets and demand continued to pick up, Bloomberg reported. The value of Japan’s overseas shipments declined 14.8% from a year earlier, easing from a 19.2% drop in July.
Yoshihide Suga, who is set to take over as Japan’s prime minister on Wednesday, faces the challenge of trying to revive the economy after it shrank by a record last quarter. His success will depend a lot on exports, a key driver of Japanese growth.
FedEx Corp. posted the highest quarterly revenue in its history as the pandemic spurred residential-shipment levels normally seen during the holiday season, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The delivery company shipped 31% more packages a day through its Ground network during the summer months. The extra cargo boosted profit more than 60% for the three months ended Aug. 31.
FedEx expects the trend to stick. It now projects an average of 100 million parcels will be shipped daily in the U.S. across all carriers sometime in 2023, compared with its previous forecast of hitting that milestone in 2026.
Brazil is running out of space to store its coffee, according to Bloomberg, with trucks waiting days to unload even as warehouses across the country run overtime.
The crunch comes after farmers — encouraged by higher prices in local currency — sold most of this year’s harvest just as the pandemic shuttered restaurants, coffee shops and cafeterias across the globe, curbing consumption.
Demand for coffee remains weak, and speculation is that private warehouses are full even in the U.S., said Nick Gentile, managing partner for New York-based NickJen Capital Management. Global stockpiles will climb 18% in 2020-21 to a six-year high, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Boris Johnson’s government closed a coronavirus testing facility so the site can be made available to handle customs checks after the U.K. leaves the European Union’s single market and customs union, Bloomberg reported.
“The regional testing site at Ebbsfleet has ceased operations,” the Cabinet Office said in a statement. “Final decisions on inland sites will not be made until we have established the extent of new infrastructure that will be delivered at ports.”
The relocation of the facility, to a new site at Rochester, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) to the east, comes at a critical time for the government, which has faced shortages in its virus testing as new cases surge.
Amazon.com Inc. plans to hire 100,000 new warehouse employees in the U.S. and Canada, continuing a rapid expansion that began as the pandemic fueled robust online spending, The Wall Street Journal reported. The positions are all nonseasonal.
Amazon added 175,000 warehouse workers in March and April, 125,000 of whom it said it would keep. Last week, the company said it was in the process of filling 33,000 corporate positions.
JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the economic recovery from the coronavirus recession could be derailed by a lack of additional economic stimulus, the election and a second wave of infections, according to Reuters.
Earlier government stimulus had delayed the full effects of the recession, and consumers are spending less, Dimon said. Based on JPMorgan’s data, it is unclear if that trend is getting better or worse.
BP Plc said the relentless growth of oil demand is over, becoming the first supermajor to call the end of an era many thought would last another decade or more, Bloomberg reported.
Oil consumption may never return to levels seen before the coronavirus crisis took hold, BP said in a new report. Even its most bullish scenario sees demand no better than “broadly flat” for the next two decades as the energy transition shifts the world away from fossil fuels.
BP’s energy outlook shows consumption slumping 50% by 2050 in one scenario, and by almost 80% in another. In a “business-as-usual” situation, demand would recover but then flatline near 100 million barrels a day for the next 20 years.
The U.K. will see around 450,000 job losses in the coming months — more than twice as many than in the recession following the financial crisis, according to analysis by the Institute for Employment Studies. That was based on notifications to the government’s Insolvency Service, which employers are legally required to file if they plan to cut at least 20 positions, Bloomberg reported.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing growing calls from industry groups and fellow lawmakers to extend the furlough program, under which the government has paid as much as 80% of the wages of some 9.6 million workers. It is due to be wound down altogether at the end of next month.
Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said it’s “likely” the U.S. will deploy a COVID-19 vaccine to the public before year-end and that the company is prepared for that scenario, pushing back against more tepid expectations shared by health authorities.
Bourla said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he’s “quite comfortable” that the vaccine the company is developing in partnership with BioNTech SE is safe and that it could be available to Americans before 2021, contingent on an approval from U.S. regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“I cannot say what the FDA will do,” Bourla said. “But I think it’s a likely scenario, and we are preparing for it.”
JBS Foods Inc., the world’s largest meat producer, was issued a $15,615 fine for failing to protect staff from the coronavirus in a Colorado facility where six workers have reportedly died, Bloomberg reported.
The fine from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration came one day after U.S. regulators issued a penalty of $13,494 for a similar infraction by Smithfield Foods Inc., the first sanction against a meatpacker connected with a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
The fine levied against Smithfield drew outrage as inadequate from two senators, a former safety official and a major national union. OSHA said it was the maximum allowed by law.
VMware Inc. employees who take up the company’s offer to become permanent remote workers will get a pay cut if they move from Silicon Valley, one of the nation’s most costly areas to live, to a less-expensive city.
The software maker has joined technology companies such as Facebook Inc.and Twitter Inc. in letting some of its office staff choose to permanently work from home in the wake of the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. But employees who worked at VMware’s Palo Alto, California, headquarters and go to Denver, for example, must accept an 18% salary reduction, people familiar with the matter said. Leaving Silicon Valley for Los Angeles or San Diego means relinquishing 8% of their annual pay, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal policies.
Facebook and Twitter are among the other technology companies that have put in place or are considering similar pay policies.
U.S. regulators issued their first sanction against a meatpacker connected with a deadly COVID-19 outbreak: a $13,494 fine against Smithfield Foods Inc. that drew criticism as inadequate from at least one senator, a former safety official and a major national union, according to Bloomberg.
Nearly 1,300 workers at Smithfield’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant tested positive for the virus, 43 were hospitalized and four died between March 22 and June 16, according to inspection documents. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement that the fine was the maximum allowed by law. Smithfield is owned by the Hong Kong-based WH Group Ltd.
The meatpacking industry was an early epicenter of coronavirus as the disease rapidly spread among its often poorly paid immigrant employees working in close quarters. In a tweet, Democratic Senator Cory Booker, one of several who highlighted the toll the pandemic has taken on frontline workers, called the fine “paltry.”
Drugmakers seeking an emergency authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine will have to meet a higher standard of efficacy than normally would be required for such a clearance, Bloomberg reported.
Typically, an emergency use authorization, or EUA, would require a company to show their product may be effective. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s biologics office, said Thursday that the agency will require more robust data about how well a coronavirus vaccine works before granting an emergency waiver — something he called “EUA plus.”
The medical community has raised concerns about allowing a vaccine on the market under emergency authorization, rather than the regular FDA approval process, particularly given President Trump’s push to have a shot available by the Nov. 3 election.
A crush of goods coming into West Coast seaports is straining capacity at the gateways and on key inland distribution lanes, raising shipping prices for retailers and complicating efforts to replenish inventories following the pandemic’s supply-chain upheaval, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Freight railroads and trucking companies that sharply reduced their operations in the spring are now struggling to get workers and equipment in place to handle the surge. Trucking companies are asking if anyone has additional drivers that can sub-haul for them, while the movement of containers between the ports and nearby distribution centers has slowed.
Senate Democrats blocked a narrowly tailored pandemic relief plan proposed by Republicans, contending the measure was too meager a response given the damage that COVID-19 continues to wreak on the U.S. economy, Bloomberg reported.
The Senate’s vote in favor of the bill was short of the 60 needed to advance the legislation for floor debate, leaving Congress at an impasse just weeks before lawmakers return home to campaign in the pivotal fall elections.
Estimated at roughly $500 billion to $700 billion, the package was less than the Republicans’ own $1 trillion plan from July, intended to target the most pressing areas for help — revived supplemental unemployment insurance benefits and extended aid for small business, in particular. The bill was a fraction of the $2.2 trillion backed by Democrats.
One in five U.K. companies is a “zombie,” with profits only just covering coronavirus debt interest payments, according to a report by Conservative think tank Onward. If Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak does not relax the rules on repayment, the post-pandemic economic recovery will be hampered by “crippling levels of corporate debt,” Bloomberg reported.
Borrowing taken on since the Covid lockdown began in March threatens to push 4.3% of companies, employing 1.8 million people, into technical insolvency, and if dissolved, they wouldn’t have assets to cover their liabilities, according to the study.
Nowhere in Latin America has inflation accelerated so much since the pandemic hit as in Mexico, where supply chain problems and a weaker currency are offsetting the price impact of plunging consumption, according to Bloomberg.
Mexico’s consumer prices rose 4.05% in August from a year ago, nearly twice as much as the 2.15% rate recorded in April and above the upper limit of the central bank’s target for the first time in 15 months. By contrast, inflation has been contained at 2.4% in Brazil and is slowing in most of the region — even in Argentina, where it remains close to 40% a year.
“In Mexico the negative supply shock from Covid is dominating the negative demand shock and inflation keeps increasing,” said Carlos Capistran, an economist at Bank of America.
Chinese steel output has busted records by topping 90 million tons in each of the last three months, Bloomberg reported. China typically accounts for about half the world’s steel, but in April that rose to 62% of the total. In June, it became a net importer of the metal for the first time in over a decade.
The industry has benefited more than most as its economy takes the lead in emerging from the coronavirus-crisis and supply is hard-pressed to keep up with demand.
“Chinese steel companies are on our watch list,” said Jiahe Chen, chief investment officer at Novem Arcae Technologies Co. “First of all, it isn’t a hot sector, which means we can buy at a very cheap price. Leading mills are very competitive as they are based on a huge Chinese market.”
Airbus SE delivered 39 jets last month while avoiding order cancellations as it battles to keep revenues flowing, Bloomberg reported. August handovers comprised 35 A320-series narrow-body planes and four twin-aisle jets, with the overall tally down 10 from the July figure, the company said.
Boeing Co. said earlier that it delivered 13 planes in August, in an update overshadowed by news that handovers of the 787 Dreamliner are to be slowed for checks for a manufacturing flaw involving gaps in the plane’s horizontal stabilizer that are wider than specified.
Even without the Dreamliner setback, Airbus has been ahead of its rival in riding out the pandemic, as Boeing continues to wrestle with the grounding of its 737 Max short-haul plane following two deadly crashes. The European company has generally managed to persuade airlines including EasyJet Plc and Qatar Airways to defer deliveries rather than cancel deals outright.
Drugmakers racing to produce COVID-19 vaccines pledged to avoid shortcuts on science as they face pressure to rush a shot to market, Bloomberg reported.
In an unusual public letter, the companies agreed to submit the vaccines for clearance only when they’re shown to be safe and effective in large clinical studies. The chief executive officers of nine frontrunners in the push for a coronavirus inoculation signed the pledge: AstraZeneca Plc, BioNTech SE, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Moderna Inc., Novavax Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi.
The European Commission said it is close to reaching an agreement with BioNTech SE on the supply of any successful COVID-19 vaccine, Bloomberg reported. “We are almost there,” Sandra Gallina, a senior health official at the commission, the 27-nation European Union’s executive arm, told a European Parliament committee on Monday in Brussels.
Gallina also said the EU expects to receive some doses by the end of the year, citing vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna Inc. and BioNTech.
U.K. manufacturers called on Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to extend his flagship furlough program amid warnings that almost a third of companies plan to cut jobs in the next six months, Bloomberg reported.
A survey of 226 employers by industry group MakeUK found 62% want the program, under which the Treasury has paid as much as 80% of wages, to be extended beyond the end of October. With 30% of respondents saying they intend to cut workers, extension of the plan could avert a “wave of redundancies,” the group said.
With Germany extending its equivalent program until the end of 2021, and France also considering an extension, Sunak has come under pressure to continue to subsidize wages beyond Oct. 31, when the program is scheduled to end.
Finance chiefs at railcar companies have been forced to reduce spending in response to a drop-off in demand, which began before the pandemic amid global trade tensions and has been compounded by virus-related shutdowns, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Trinity Industries Inc., a Dallas-based manufacturer and lessor, is looking at ways to outsource the making of railcars so it can reduce labor costs permanently, and protect the company from future fluctuations in demand. Portland, Ore.-based railcar maker Greenbrier Companies Inc. has eliminated 40% of its North American workforce — about 5,300 employees — and closed down 11 rail production lines during the past nine months.
Total North American carloads this year — a measure of how many times railcars are used to transport a commodity — fell 11% through August compared with the same period last year, due in part to lower demand for transporting coal and motor vehicles, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.
Drugmakers are planning a public pledge to not send any COVID-19 vaccine to the FDA for review without extensive safety and efficacy data, according to Bloomberg. The joint stance is seen as a bulwark against political pressure being applied on the Food and Drug Administration to get a vaccine out as soon as possible.
The plans, which could still change, were described by people involved in the effort on condition of anonymity. The companies involved in the discussions include Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Sanofi and possibly others.
Container imports are flowing back into the U.S. after a six-month hiatus, with U.S. retailers now stocking up before the holiday season, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Capacity from Asia to the U.S. West Coast is 25% higher than it was in May and around 7% on year, according to Braemar ACM Shipbroking.
August “will more than likely be” the best August in the history of the Port of Los Angeles, the largest U.S. gateway for seaborne container imports. Vessel bookings for the coming weeks suggest September will be strong as well.
The U.S. labor-market rebound extended for a fourth month in August, offering hope that the economy can recover despite a persistent pandemic and Washington’s standoff over further government aid to jobless Americans and small businesses, Bloomberg reported.
Non-farm payrolls increased by 1.37 million, including the hiring of 238,000 temporary Census workers, according to a Labor Department report. The unemployment rate fell by more than expected, by almost 2 percentage points, to 8.4%.
Trucking companies are reporting stronger freight demand as retailers and manufacturers move to restock depleted inventories, in a sign of strengthening corporate confidence in the U.S. economy, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. and Saia Inc. both said this week that tonnage on their trucks was up in the first weeks of the third quarter, while tight capacity and improving demand are driving prices on trucking’s spot markets to their highest levels of the year.
“Between strong consumer demand … and a manufacturing pause, it appears the U.S. is really light on inventory and retailers/manufacturers are rushing to get products on shelves,” Citi analyst Christian Wetherbee wrote.
The first results showing whether a vaccine can stop people from getting the coronavirus could come by mid-September from AstraZeneca Plc, Bloomberg reported. The drugmaker has pledged as many as 30 million doses to the U.K. by the end of the month.
Two other contenders — the U.S.’s Moderna Inc. and the U.S.-German partnership of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE — may also have initial data before a key Food and Drug Administration meeting on virus vaccines scheduled for Oct. 22. A fourth candidate, China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., could have preliminary results shortly after the FDA meeting.
The European Commission vowed to create a raw-materials alliance by the end of the year in a bid to “increase EU resilience in the rare earth and magnet value chains,” Bloomberg reported, saying supply-chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak bolster the need for more self-sufficiency.
The commission said the alliance would expand its remit over time to address other critical raw-material and base-metal needs.
“We cannot afford to rely entirely on third countries,” European Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement on Thursday. “By diversifying the supply from third countries and developing the EU’s own capacity for extraction, processing, recycling, refining and separation of rare earths, we can become more resilient and sustainable.”
The pandemic is giving political impetus in Europe to a more active industrial policy. This has long been a sensitive subject in the EU because of a traditional split between northern governments with a free-market bent, and southern ones with interventionist inclinations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told states to prepare for a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready by Nov. 1 and asked them to remove obstacles that would prevent distribution sites from opening, according to Bloomberg.
The CDC in early August told states to assume for planning that “limited doses” of a vaccine could be available in fall. The new Aug. 27 letter, first reported by the news organization McClatchy, sets the stage for a broader rollout.
A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S is planning a major overhaul of its organization that is set to affect about 27,000 jobs — of which a “small number” will be direct cuts, Bloomberg reported.
Maersk said its Safmarine and Damco units will cease to exist as separate entities and instead be incorporated into the group. Hamburg Sud and Alianca will remain independent brands.
The new organizational structure will provide its clients with a “more seamless experience across your supply chain,” Maersk said.
The shipping giant, which transports about 15% of the globe’s seaborne freight, is adapting its business to a world in which a pandemic and ongoing trade tensions are threatening demand for its services. The company said last month it went into the COVID-19 crisis with a plan to accelerate costs cuts, to help it weather the headwinds it was facing.
After purchasing 150 million new rapid Covid tests from Abbott Laboratories, the U.S. government plans to distribute “the overwhelming majority” to states, Bloomberg reported.
Governors will be able to use the tests to help reopen schools and protect first responders, said Brett Giroir, a top Trump administration official overseeing testing. Distribution is to begin in mid-September, with states coping with natural disasters, such as Louisiana in the midst of hurricane season, first in line, he said.
Most will be shipped to governors, who can allot them “according to their distribution plans,” Giroir said. “We fully, fully want to support them in that.”
The Trump administration won’t join a global effort to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved, The Washington Post reported.
The plan, co-led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, was of interest to some members of the Trump administration and is backed by traditional U.S. allies, including Japan, Germany and the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, according to the newspaper.
But the U.S. won’t participate, in part because the White House doesn’t want to work with the WHO, which President Trump has criticized over what he characterized as its “China-centric” response to the pandemic, the Post said.
Global trade is on course to recover more quickly from the coronavirus pandemic than after the 2008 financial crisis, according to Bloomberg. Shipping volumes are already back at levels that took more than a year to reach following the collapse of Lehman Brothers — hinting at a V-shaped recovery — says Gabriel Felbermayr, president of Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
Trade has seen a “deep slump and a quick rebound,” Felbermayr said. “The current situation is significantly better” than a decade ago.
The European Commission will contribute 400 million euros ($478 million) to the Covax Facility to secure COVID-19 shots and ensure equitable access to them around the world, according to a statement. Covax was established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; and the World Health Organization.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the contribution would benefit low- and middle-income countries but did not specify which. The European Union’s participation in the Covax program is “complementary to ongoing EU negotiations with vaccine companies that aim at scaling up manufacturing capacity,” the commission said.
Canada has agreed to buy more than 100 million COVID-19 vaccines from Novavax Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, Bloomberg reported.
The deals add procurement agreements with Pfizer Inc. for at least 20 million doses and with Moderna Inc. for as many as 56 million doses.
“It is possible that there is a breakthrough soon that will allow us to get a vaccine more quickly, but we don’t know where or if that breakthrough will come,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “That’s why the government of Canada has moved forward on signing agreements with a broad range of vaccine developers.”
The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration promised that the review of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. will be transparent to the public — with any clearance by the agency driven by data alone, Bloomberg reported.
“We’ve said all along we’re not going to pre-judge what mechanism we’re going to use to authorize or approve a vaccine,” Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in an interview. “We’re going to let the data dictate that.”
Hahn apologized last week for overstating the benefits of blood plasma-based therapy during a news conference with President Trump.
American Airlines Group Inc. will drop October flying capacity 55% from a year earlier, Bloomberg reported. The airline is trimming operations during the industry’s slowest period, after families normally end summer vacations and business travel picks up.
American said earlier this month that it will end service to 15 cities on Oct. 7, heralding possible similar reductions by other carriers if the government doesn’t provide additional financial aid. Airlines that accepted a first round of federal assistance to help cover payroll costs had to agree to continue flying to all locations they were serving as of March 1. While the Transportation Department later authorized a halt to some flights because of sustained low demand, the broader restrictions are set to expire Oct. 1.
Logistics experts say Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s recent drive to make the U.S. Postal Service’s operations more efficient appeared to overlook the impact on mail delivery at a time of considerable upheaval and growing demands on services, The Wall Street Journal reported.
DeJoy’s push to keep trucks closely on schedules, for example, likely conflicted with demands from surging parcel volumes and labor shortages due to COVID-19 that have weighed on service during the coronavirus pandemic, those experts said.
“If packages are way up and you’ve got all this disruption and change, having mail leave on time and not sending them [trucks] on extra trips was clearly going to delay mail,” said Robert Fisher, a former senior operations executive at the USPS headquarters.
Postal worker unions say the stricter transportation schedule has led to backlogs at processing plants and slowdowns in mail delivery.
The U.S. government will acquire almost all of the 15-minute Covid tests Abbott Laboratories plans to produce this year after the company was granted emergency approval for use of the test, according to Bloomberg.
The government will pay $750 million for 150 million tests, said people familiar with the deal. Approval for the test came on Wednesday, and analysts quickly agreed the new assay — which works without relying on laboratory equipment — could help ease delays that have crimped much of the nation’s testing capacity.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 98,000 to 1.01 million last week, suggesting the labor market’s gradual recovery is back on track, Bloomberg reported. At the same time, claims remain far above pre-pandemic levels, and risks to further improvement include lawmakers’ failure to extend support for cash-strapped companies and jobless Americans.
The U.K. is still in the eye of the coronavirus storm and more challenging times may yet follow, according to Bloomberg. The country faces a moment of renewed danger as the winding down of support measures threatens to coincide with a potential winter resurgence of the virus, said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, who urged the government to take further steps to support corporate Britain.
In a separate warning, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said many U.K. companies are not preparing for Brexit because the pandemic has depleted their cash reserves.
California is working with PerkinElmer Inc. to build a laboratory testing site with a full supply chain that will enable the state to add as many as 150,000 tests per day, more than doubling its current capacity, Governor Gavin Newsom said at a press briefing.
The agreement comes with a guarantee that tests will have a 24- to 48-hour turnaround time, helping California vastly improve its processing from the current average turnaround of five to seven days, he said. The state has identified a site and “will be moving forward very very quickly,” Newsom said.
World Economic Forum Rescheduled (Aug. 26, 12:00 p.m. ET)
The WEF will move its annual meeting, normally held each January in the Swiss ski town of Davos, to early summer, Bloomberg reported. While convening to discuss economic challenges was urgent, “the advice from experts is that we cannot do so safely in January,” the organization said.
Thailand’s Transport Ministry plans to accelerate spending on roads and rail projects in the fiscal year starting in October to aid an economy hammered by a slump in exports and tourism, according to Bloomberg.
Key programs include expansion of Bangkok’s mass-transit network and expressways linking several nearby provinces and the nation’s eastern seaboard to Bangkok, as about half of Thailand’s gross domestic product comes from the capital city though it has less than a 10th of the nation’s population.
Also high on the government’s transport agenda is a highway network connecting neighboring countries and a high-speed rail that goes through neighboring countries to China.
General Motors Co. is using salaried staff for assembly-line work at its Missouri truck plant to cope with high absenteeism and strong demand for the pickups made at the factory, Bloomberg reported. The decision to put white-collar employees on the production floor is a temporary move as GM shifts unionized hourly workers from other plants to its Wentzville, Missouri, factory, which makes the popular mid-sized Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks.
A faster-than-expected sales rebound after an industry-wide shutdown this spring is pushing GM and other automakers to ramp up output, but that recovery has been slowed by social-distancing protocols, supply-chain constraints and elevated worker absences.
An uptick of COVID-19 infections in the community near St. Louis is exacerbating absenteeism as Wentzville tries to replenish inventories of pickups, said Jim Cain, a company spokesman. A few dozen salaried staff have volunteered for at least one week on the assembly line.
Volkswagen AG is installing facilities for voluntary COVID-19 tests at sites across Germany, stepping up efforts to protect its sprawling industrial operations as infection rates rise across Europe, Bloomberg reported.
The carmaker will be able to handle as many as 2,400 tests per day in Wolfsburg, the home of its headquarters and largest factory. Results will be available within 24 hours, says Gunnar Kilian, VW’s personnel chief.
American Airlines Group Inc. will cut 19,000 workers once federal payroll aid expires Oct. 1, Bloomberg reported, capping a 30% workforce reduction since the coronavirus pandemic began to torpedo travel demand.
About 17,500 employees will be furloughed, meaning they are eligible to be called back when conditions improve, and 1,500 previously announced cuts to management staff will take effect — bringing its total pandemic cuts to 40,000 positions. American is the first major carrier to disclose how much it will shrink operations as it adjusts to passenger numbers that are down 70% from last year.
Companies around the world have moved more of their operations online, plan to reduce office space and have made recruiting and retaining staff their top priority since the pandemic struck, according to Reuters.
A survey from accounting firm KPMG showed 80% of business leaders had accelerated their digital expansion plans during the lockdown as they adjusted to staff working remotely and dealing with customers online.
There was uncertainty about the eventual scale of the shift away from shared workspaces in favor of working from home, but 69% were planning to cut their office space in the short term.
Delta Air Lines plans to furlough 1,941 pilots in October, Reuters reported — reducing the number from 2,558 following early retirement and voluntary departure programs.
“We are six months into this pandemic and only 25% of our revenues have been recovered. Unfortunately, we see few catalysts over the next six months to meaningful change this trajectory,” said head of flight operations John Laughter.
U.S. airlines have warned they will need to furlough tens of thousands of workers once $25 billion in U.S. government stimulus funds run out in September.
Moderna Inc. said it plans to provide 80 million doses of its experimental coronavirus shot to the EU. The U.S. biotech company has finished talks with the European Commission over a potential agreement, which includes an option for EU member states to purchase an additional 80 million doses, according to Bloomberg.
China has granted approval for the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine for “special groups” that include medical workers and border-check officials, Bloomberg reported. The purpose is to build an immune barrier among frontline workers to guarantee stability in urban operations, according to China National Biotec Group, the state-owned firm now conducting late stage trials for two inactivated vaccines.
China’s drug regulator yet to approve a coronavirus vaccine. The National Medical Products Administration stipulated in a recently published guideline that such shots need a protection rate of at least 50%, and preferably more than 70%.
The House passed legislation preventing U.S. Postal Service cutbacks at least through January and providing it with $25 billion in additional funding, reflecting Democrats’ concerns that delivery delays affecting basic mail service would spill over into an election being held during the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The House bill faces opposition as a stand-alone bill in the GOP-controlled Senate. Congressional leaders had been discussing funding for the Postal Service as part of a broader coronavirus relief package, but those negotiations collapsed earlier this month.
The Trump administration released new details on the biggest coronavirus-relief initiative that show more than 98% of loans approved after July 6 were for less than $150,000, Bloomberg reported — suggesting the program was reaching smaller businesses before it closed earlier this month.
The Paycheck Protection Program had been criticized for not being quick enough in serving independent contractors, truly small firms and minority-owned companies. The new data show the most loan approvals in July and August were for personal-services firms, general freight and trucking companies and beauty salons.
As of Aug. 8, when the program closed, the Small Business Administration reported approving more than 5.2 million PPP loans totaling $525 billion, with almost $134 billion in remaining funding that will be returned to the Treasury unless Congress votes to re-purpose it.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the city will kick off a campaign to test its entire population on Sept. 1, in the first such effort attempted outside of mainland China, Bloomberg reported. Aided by Chinese experts and labs, the blitz will last two weeks. Residents are entitled to a free, one-time test on a voluntary basis.
Lam expressed gratitude to China, saying that Hong Kong would not have been able to conduct mass testing on its own. Hong Kong is facing pressure to re-open restaurants and relax social-distancing measures as its outbreak wanes, but a bold easing approach carries both public health and political risks. With new daily cases showing a sustained decline businesses are pressing for restrictions on restaurants to be lifted quickly to boost the economy and help residents who rely on eating out due to small apartment sizes.
The U.K. economy continued its recovery from a record slump, but the good news was clouded by mounting job losses and a growing government debt burden, Bloomberg reported.
A broad measure of economic activity jumped to the highest in almost seven years in August, while retail sales rose more than forecast in July, reports on Friday showed. That pickup from the virus slump is being fueled by huge state support, which pushed government debt above 2 trillion pounds ($2.6 trillion) for the first time ever.
The euro-area economy unexpectedly lost momentum this month as renewed travel restrictions and concerns about the coronavirus took a toll on services, Bloomberg reported. The sharp slowdown shows that the path out of recession won’t be plain sailing, and undermines lingering hopes for a V-shaped recovery. While infections are on the rise, economic concerns mean governments are reluctant to re-impose the type of strict lockdowns seen earlier this year.
The economy had initially bounced back strongly after lockdowns were eased, though many were concerned that the pace could fade. At their last meeting in July, European Central Bank policy makers were reluctant to draw firm conclusions about the health of the economy, a stance that looks justified by Friday’s numbers.
The Internal Revenue Service projects that lower levels of employment in the U.S. could persist for years, Bloomberg reported.
The IRS forecasts there will be about 229.4 million employee-classified jobs in 2021 — about 37.2 million fewer than it had estimated last year before the virus hit, according to updated data released Thursday. The statistics are an estimate of how many of the W-2 tax forms that are used to track employee wages and withholding the agency will receive.
Lower rates of W-2 filings are seen persisting through at least 2027, with about 15.9 million fewer forms filed that year compared with prior estimates.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose to more than 1.1 million last week, even after analysts forecast a decline, Bloomberg reported — fresh evidence that the U.S. labor market recovery will occur in fits and starts.
Target posted the strongest quarterly growth in its history, including a near-tripling of digital sales, The Wall Street Journal reported, as coronavirus concerns fueled demand for services that let shoppers pick up goods in parking lots or skip trips to the store.
Target executives cited broad gains across categories such as food, electronics and home goods and a rebound in clothing sales in the quarter ended Aug. 1. Meanwhile Walmart, which is a global retailer and much larger in terms of revenue, said its U.S. e-commerce revenue nearly doubled in the latest quarter.
The world’s largest container line may generate $1.5 billion more in operating profit this year than previously expected, Bloomberg reported, as its business proves resilient to the COVID-19 crisis.
A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S provided guidance for the first time since March, and painted a brighter picture of the future than investors and analysts had anticipated. Soren Skou, Maersk’s chief executive, said he now expects container volumes to be back at 2019 levels by the beginning of next year and is betting on a “U-shaped recovery.”
One in five workers at Brazil’s meat plants have been infected with coronavirus, according to Bloomberg, making the country home to one of the world’s worst workplace outbreaks.
The estimate comes from Nelson Morelli, the president of national workers union Contac-CUT. The figure would mean about 100,000 infected workers in the country’s meatpacking industry, which employs half a million people. To be clear, it’s not an official count and is based on surveys with the group’s local members. But an outbreak even close to that figure would be one of the biggest globally for a single industry, outside of healthcare.
Countries must avoid vaccine nationalism after earlier bouts over supplies exacerbated the pandemic, according to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “As new diagnostics, medicines and vaccines come through the pipeline, it’s critical that countries don’t repeat the same mistakes,” he said at a briefing.
WHO officials urged member states to join its Covax facility, which aims to accelerate vaccine development and to guarantee fair and equitable access.
Boeing Co. is preparing to offer buyouts to employees for a second time this year as the virus-stricken planemaker extends its workforce cuts beyond the original 10% target unveiled in April, Bloomberg reported.
The “voluntary layoff” will be offered largely to staffers in the company’s commercial airplanes unit, services division and corporate operation, said CEO Dave Calhoun in a message to employees. More details will be made available to workers next week.
Daimler AG sees industrywide truck sales in India taking at least three years to recover to its peak-level, according to Bloomberg. Commercial vehicle sales will start recovering next year, said Satyakam Arya, CEO of Daimler’s India commercial vehicles division.
VRL Logistics Ltd., which owns the largest fleet of commercial vehicles in India, said Monday it won’t buy new trucks and will scrap up to 15% of old ones to rein in repair costs amid a nascent recovery in demand.
The Panama Canal is seeing signs of a rebound in global trade as ship transits recover from the depressed levels caused by the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. Total transits through the waterway rose to 933 in July, from 845 in June, which was the fewest since the canal opened an expanded set of locks four years ago to accommodate bigger ships.
Initial August numbers show further improvement, Canal Authority Deputy Administrator Ilya Espino de Marotta said.
Container shipping between the U.S. and Asia, the canal’s most important route, began to increase this month, she said. But cruise ships continue to cancel their slots, and the trade in Liquid Natural Gas may also take more time to recover, she added.
The Cold Chain Association of China’s southern coastal city of Guangzhou ordered all member companies to suspend imports of frozen meat and seafood from coronavirus-hit areas, the city’s Internet Information Office said on its official Weibo account, without specifying areas or countries.
The association also ordered all workers who come into contact with frozen meat and seafood to be tested for the coronavirus, and that they get tested once a week, Bloomberg reported.
The order was issued after the local government in the nearby city of Shenzhen found the virus on a surface sample of chicken wings imported from Brazil, and there were earlier cases in other Chinese cities where the pathogen was identified on packaging samples of imported seafood.
U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is endangering 2 million viable jobs by ending his coronavirus jobs support program too early, the Institute for Public Policy Research said. The think tank estimates that 3 million workers will still be relying on the plan when it ends in October, two-thirds of whom are in roles that would be sustainable if the help was extended into next year, Bloomberg reported.
Removing the support too early would “cause long-lasting damage to the economy and to people’s lives,” the authors of the report said. Even with the plan, which currently pays 80% of an employee’s wage, there are signs the labor market is in crisis.
Detroit’s two largest auto makers are nearing completion of federal contracts to manufacture tens of thousands of ventilators, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ford Motor Co. this week will have made about 43,000 ventilators with its partner, General Electric Co., at a factory in suburban Detroit, a Ford spokeswoman said. The companies expect to reach 50,000 by the end of August to fulfill a $336 million contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.
General Motors Co. is on track to complete 30,000 ventilators at a converted Indiana factory by the end of the month, fulfilling its terms under a $490 million federal contract with its partner, the Seattle-area medical-device maker Ventec Life Systems, a GM spokesman said.
GM plans to turn over operations at the factory to Ventec for future production, citing a continued need for ventilators beyond the federal contract. Ford declined to comment on what will happen with the facility producing its ventilators once work under the contract is complete.
A COVID-19 test that processes saliva samples and doesn’t require special swabs or collection devices received emergency-use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, Bloomberg reported.
Research for the test was done by Yale University’s School of Public Health and was partly funded by the National Basketball Association and the union representing NBA players.
Yale plans to provide the test protocol to interested labs under an “open-source” arrangement that doesn’t rely on any proprietary equipment from Yale, according to the FDA. Yale expects labs to charge about $10 per sample.
Consumers in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have been urged to exercise caution when buying imported frozen food after a surface sample of chicken wings from Brazil tested positive for coronavirus, according to a statement from the local government.
The positive sample appears to have been taken from the surface of the meat, while previously reported positive cases from other Chinese cities have been from the surface of packaging on imported frozen seafood.
New York City’s largest employers remain worried and uncertain about the future course of the virus, with just 26% expecting workers to return by the end of the year, according to Bloomberg.
Only 8% of employees have returned to their workplaces, says a survey of 146 companies by the Partnership for New York City, an association of chief executives. Just over half those surveyed, or 54%, expect offices to be occupied a year from now.
The executives’ uncertainty is greater now than it was in a similar May survey. It said 28% still haven’t even drafted a detailed reopening plan.
The European Commission said it’s seeking to secure 200 million doses of a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, stepping up efforts to protect citizens against the pandemic.
A proposed contract would let all European Union countries buy the vaccine and allow them to donate supplies to low and middle-income countries, Bloomberg reported. After the initial purchase, the EU would be able to acquire a further 200 million doses later.
The International Energy Agency cut forecasts for global oil demand as air travel suffers from the coronavirus crisis even more than previously expected, Bloomberg reported.
The IEA reduced estimates for almost every quarter through to the end of 2021, with the second half of this year taking the steepest downgrades. Air travel remained two-thirds lower than last year in July, normally a peak month because of holiday flying, it said in a monthly report.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell below 1 million for the first time since the pandemic began in March, Bloomberg reported.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 228,000 to 963,000 in the week ended Aug. 8, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Continuing claims — the total number of Americans claiming ongoing benefits in state programs — decreased to 15.5 million in the week ended Aug. 1, the lowest since early April.
Crude-laden tankers have been lining up for weeks at a time off China’s coast as ports struggle to handle the millions of barrels of inbound oil that have swamped the country’s overfilled storage sites, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Brokers in Shanghai, Singapore and London said at least 80 ships have been waiting for more than a month to unload their cargo in northern Chinese ports including Yingkou, Rizhao and Qingdao, where congestion is the most severe.
More than half of the vessels are very large crude carriers, the workhorses of seaborne oil trade, which can move up to two million barrels each in a single sailing.
Upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic is pushing more companies to consider automating distribution and fulfillment, according to The Wall Street Journal.
More than half of warehouse operators responding to a recent survey by Honeywell Intelligrated, Honeywell International Inc.’s warehouse automation business, said they were more willing to invest in automation as a result of the pandemic. E-commerce companies showed the biggest shift, with 66% saying they were more willing to do so, followed by food and beverage companies and logistics providers, at 59% and 55%, respectively.
About half of the respondents who had invested in automation said it was helpful for the business during the pandemic, with many citing their ability to continue operating with fewer staff on-site as a benefit, according to the survey, which polled 434 U.S.-based professionals in April and May.
Moderna Inc. reached a deal with the U.S. to manufacture and distribute 100 million doses of its experimental vaccine for COVID-19, in a pact valued at as much as $1.5 billion, Bloomberg reported.
“We’re on track to rapidly produce 100 million doses as soon as the vaccine is approved,” President Trump said at a White House briefing. The agreement is the latest in a string of supply deals reached to stockpile the most advanced vaccines in testing.
Renewable power contracted by U.S. corporations and public institutions this year will probably fall short of last year’s record-high 13.6 gigawatts, according to Bloomberg, as the pandemic upends energy consumption and reshapes the way people work. Through July, procurement of clean energy stood at 4.3 gigawatts, down from 6 gigawatts at that point last year.
Globally, corporations and public institutions agreed to 8.9 gigawatts of power-supply agreements in the first seven months of this year, slightly ahead of the 8.6 gigawatts signed through that point last year. Latin America, Taiwan and Australia in particular are seeing bursts of deals. But it will take continued global activity to make up for the decline in the U.S. — the largest corporate market.
The coronavirus pandemic will likely make the gender pay gap worse as the U.S. economy recovers, Bloomberg reported.
In a regular recession, the pay gap between men and women shrinks by two percentage points as men tend to get hit harder by job losses, according to a paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. But in a pandemic recession, that gap increases by five percentage points, the report said.
Women are more vulnerable to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic because they are more likely than men to work in service industries, which have been hit especially hard in recent months. With so many schools and daycares closed, many of the additional childcare responsibilities have also fallen to women. Females lose skills when they leave the workforce, either because of job loss or to care for children, which results in lower pay when they return, according to NBER.
Several state public-health departments that planned to pour money into new staff and machinery have been bound by thin stockpiles of key materials, according to Bloomberg. Documents from last month released on Monday show that supplies needed to collect patient samples and chemicals called reagents used to process tests were difficult to come by.
Public-health experts say the shortages are a consequence of federal strategy that has largely deferred testing responsibilities to states, resulting in a patchwork response. Fall’s upcoming flu season could add further pressure on the country’s already-stressed testing infrastructure, state officials told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
While the federal government has provided states with some testing materials, Texas said it has sourced its own swabs and that reagents that were available weren’t always compatible with its machinery. Arizona’s public-health department said it’s working with federal agencies and vendors “to obtain test kits which are in short supply and back-ordered.”
Officials in some states came up with workarounds to screen more patients, circumvent supply bottlenecks and cope with delays in getting results. Arizona began offering coronavirus tests at mental-health clinics and facilities for those with special needs and used a courier service to get patient samples to its labs faster. The Texas state public-health department brought in two university veterinary labs for help.
Even if the most optimistic projections hold true and a COVID-19 vaccine is cleared for U.S. use in November, the vast majority of Americans won’t be able to get the shots until spring or summer next year at the earliest, according to Bloomberg.
In an interview, Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said it may take until well into 2021 for vaccines to reach the much of the general public.
“I would hope that by the time we get well into the second half of 2021 that the companies will have delivered the hundreds of millions of doses they have promised,” he said.
The U.K. aerospace industry plans to create a 1 billion-pound ($1.3 billion) fund to prop up suppliers, the Sunday Times reported. Trade association ADS Group has drafted proposals aimed at helping small businesses hurt by production cuts.
The U.K. government is being urged to match any private-sector pledges from companies that could include Toulouse, France-based Airbus SE, which makes the wings for its jets in Britain, the report said. Stakes could be taken in smaller suppliers under the plans, it said.
ADS has been coordinating the U.K. Aerospace Supply Chain Task Force, which aims to provide short-term support to keep parts providers from folding and help enable recapitalization and strategic investments. The industry could shrink as much as 40% over the next three years, according to task force chairman Tom Williams.
The federal agency that announced a $765 million loan to Eastman Kodak Co. less than two weeks ago said the offer is on hold pending probes into allegations of wrongdoing, according to Bloomberg.
The development bank loan announced July 28 was the first of its kind under the Defense Production Act in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense. It was intended to speed production of drugs in short supply and those considered critical to treat COVID-19, including hydroxychloroquine, the controversial antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump.
Danish Crown, Europe’s biggest pork exporter, said it will close down a slaughterhouse for at least a week after a rise in the number of workers infected with COVID-19, Bloomberg reported.
The facility in Ringsted, southwest of Copenhagen, registered another 22 cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 142, Danish Crown said in a statement. Since registering the first case last week, the company has introduced extensive testing of the roughly 850 workers at the site, but the number of infections continued to rise.
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week to the lowest since the pandemic began in a broad decline across nearly all states, Bloomberg reported.
The drop, the largest in almost two months, comes as U.S. lawmakers are still working toward a stimulus package that would once again bolster the size of millions of Americans’ unemployment checks.
Korean Air Lines Co. provided some rare positive news for the devastated global aviation industry, reporting a quarterly profit after flying planes loaded with products from South Korean technology giants to homebound consumers around the world, according to Bloomberg.
The carrier’s operating profit was 148.5 billion won ($125 million) for the April-June period. Cargo sales climbed 95% from a year earlier to 1.23 trillion won. Asiana Airlines Inc. could follow suit with an operating profit of 43.7 billion won when it reports next week, according to an average estimate of analysts.
The industrial and logistics sectors of commercial real estate are among those making the quickest comebacks from the pandemic-induced recession, according to CBRE.
The firm's Global Real Estate Market Outlook for midyear 2020 finds those two sectors benefiting from an acceleration of e-commerce. Also showing relatively strong results was multi-family housing, due to demographic trends that are favoring renting.
Other commercial real estate sectors will take longer to absorb fundamental shifts in the economy, CBRE said, noting that the office market is having to accommodate a more hybrid workforce that operates remotely, while recovery in hotels will require a resumption of corporate and group travel. Retail will have to adjust to the rise of e-commerce, with consumers making fewer but higher-spending trips to the store.
In industrial and logistics, modern class-A, warehouses are attracting most of the demand, according to CBRE. It expects additional demand to result from retailers adding inventory to handle demand fluctuations, and from manufacturers diversifying supply chains to reduce dependence on China.
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to supply 100 million doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. for more than $1 billion, Bloomberg reported. The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is expected to go into late-stage trials in September.
The U.S. government has recently forged a series of deals with companies including Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. to secure access to the vaccine. Moderna says it has received $400 million of deposits so far for potential supply of its COVID-19 vaccine, as part of discussions with several countries.
The J&J pact follows the release of a study showing the company’s candidate vaccine generated a strong antibody response in primates, and provided protection with a single dose.
Businesses in the euro zone saw stronger-than-initially reported growth in July, with output expanding for the first time since lockdowns in March, Bloomberg reported.
Services providers and manufacturers both saw activity pick up. A composite purchasing managers’ index rose to 54.9, the highest level in just over two years and above a flash estimate. Orders increased for the first time in five months.
The U.K. government and Valneva SE will each invest 14 million pounds ($18 million) in a Scottish plant that will make the French biotech firm’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to Bloomberg. Britain has reached deals for at least 250 million doses from four different vaccine developers in recent weeks, giving it one of the highest number of doses per capita globally.
Senators Marco Rubio and Susan Collins have introduced legislation to extend the Paycheck Protection Program past its Aug. 8 expiration date as talks between Republicans and Democrats on a larger relief package appear deadlocked, Bloomberg reported.
Florida’s Rubio and Maine’s Collins introduced two proposals that would continue the popular small-business relief program at least through the end of the year.
The U.K. plans to adopt its full no-deal Brexit border plan — “Operation Brock” — to avoid traffic chaos when it completes its split from the EU in 2021, even if the two sides sign a free-trade agreement, according to Bloomberg. The traffic management system is designed to limit tailbacks around Dover and Eurotunnel, two key trade arteries for Britain.
The Department for Transport said analysis from October 2019, when it appeared Britain may leave the EU without a deal, showed hauliers were poorly prepared for the new customs checks, and, due to the coronavirus, it would be prudent to assume that’s still the case.
Under a new “Smart Freight System” (SFS), hauliers will have to fill in details on a government website showing they have the correct documents to enter the EU. Then they will be issued with a permit giving permission to proceed to the port.
From New York City to Tel Aviv, the telecommuting revolution has meant a lot more work, according to a study reported by Bloomberg of 3.1 million people at more than 21,000 companies across 16 cities in North America, Europe and the Middle East.
The researchers compared employee behavior over two 8 week periods before and after COVID-19 lockdowns. Looking at email and meeting meta-data, the group calculated the workday lasted 48.5 minutes longer, the number of meetings increased about 13% and people sent an average of 1.4 more emails per day to their colleagues.
In a few cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, the average workday length returned to its pre-pandemic levels. But longer days persisted in New York City, San Jose and most of Europe well into May.
Cotton growers in Australia have fallen victim to virus-related turmoil in the global supply chain, with the local arm of a major Chinese buyer going into administration, Bloomberg reported, leaving them to resell output at a sharp discount.
Administrators were appointed to Weilin Trade Pty Ltd. at the start of July, Australia’s Securities and Investments Commission documents show. Weilin Trade was set up by China’s Weilin Group in 2012.
The shutdown of the Chinese buyer comes as the world’s biggest consumer faces a glut of U.S. cotton, after buying $1 billion worth of American fiber in the past three months as part of the phase one trade deal between the two countries, despite the pandemic closing clothing stores and slashing demand.
In the face of recent criticism, Smithfield Foods Inc. took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times to accuse its critics of false narratives and misinformation and to defend its operations to keep the nation fed during the pandemic.
The Chinese-owned and Virginia-based company calls its 42,000 employees “heroes” in the ad, and says it has implemented measures to keep staff safe and reward them for their work.
Sunday’s spread echoes a national Tyson Foods Inc. commercial with the tagline “We take care of our family so you can feed yours.” In contrast to Tyson, Smithfield has declined to share recent data on coronavirus infections among employees at its plants, Bloomberg reported.
President Trump has barred federal agencies from dismissing U.S. citizens or green card holders and replacing them with foreign workers, Bloomberg reported.
The executive order Trump signed Monday increases scrutiny of federal contractors’ use of H-1B visas to bring in temporary foreign labor for high-skilled jobs rather than relying on American workers.
Boris Johnson’s government signed deals for quick-turnaround tests for COVID-19 as the U.K. prepares for a winter resurgence of the disease amid criticism its initial response to the crisis was too slow, Bloomberg reported.
Millions of the tests, which can give results in 90 minutes and check for flu and other viruses, will be sent to hospitals and care homes, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday.
A record high percentage of U.S. companies are beating analysts’ forecasts this earnings season, according to Reuters, giving investors a glimmer of hope in what is still expected to be the slowest profit period since the financial crisis.
More than halfway through second-quarter earnings, 82.1% of companies reporting have surpassed profit expectations, which would be the highest in the history of Refinitiv IBES data going back to 1994.
What’s more, the size of the beats is well above what is typical. S&P 500 companies have beaten earnings expectations by a whopping 21.7%, also set to be the highest on record since 1994, based on Refinitiv’s data.
Marathon Petroleum Corp. will indefinitely idle the Martinez refinery in California and the Gallup refinery in New Mexico with no plans to restart normal operations, Bloomberg reported.
Supply disruptions aren’t expected and the Golden Eagle facility in Martinez will be converted to a terminal, according to Marathon. “Indefinite idling unfortunately means most jobs at these refineries will no longer be necessary, and we expect to begin a phased reduction of staffing levels in October,” the company said.
Ocean carriers appear to be weathering the pandemic and resulting economic downturn without a significant drop in freight rates, according to the latest XSI Public Indices Report by Xeneta.
Rate declines were "nowhere near" as steep in July as industry observes had predicted, Xeneta said, noting that the index rose by just 0.1%, and is now just 0.1% down through 2020, and 0.8% year-on-year.
Despite the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, carriers were able to limit their rate actions to "moderately small" adjustments, said Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund. They continue to perform a “delicate balancing act” with supply and demand, removing tonnage and adjusting routes as necessary, he added.
Berglund expects the pandemic to continue to serve as a damper on demand. “The carriers have been working flat out on strategy, and that has maintained a relatively solid rates course in this most trying of times," he said. "However, they can’t control external factors, and key indicators are undoubtedly a cause for concern."
A new global survey by The Conference Board finds chief executive officers anticipating "leaner and more agile" companies as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a survey of more than 1,300 CEOs and other C-Suite executives about the disease's long-term impacts, respondents saw a return to pre-pandemic revenue levels at least a year or more away. More than 40% predicted a gradual, U-shaped recovery, with more sustainable growth resuming by the fourth quarter of 2020. Around a third expected an L-shaped recovery, with sustained growth resuming only in late 2021.
Businesses expect to emerge from the pandemic using more contract workers and fewer permanent staff, with business travel curbed in favor of more videoconferencing.
Executives said the pandemic will motivate them to accelerate digital transformation plans, and rethink their business models.
“In the short term, preparing for growth and recovery will require finding the right balance between conserving cash and investing in the innovations needed to succeed in a new commercial landscape — the next normal, if you will,” said Chuck Mitchell, a report author and Director of Knowledge, Content, and Quality at The Conference Board. “Post-COVID-19, CEOs expect their organizations to emerge leaner and more agile, redefining how work gets done.”
Total U.S. intermodal volumes declined 11.9% in the second quarter of 2020, compared with the same period of last year, according to the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Quarterly report.
International shipments in the quarter fell 15.4% from 2019, while domestic containers and trailers were down by 7% and 14%, respectively, IANA reported.
“Second quarter results showed the full impact of the economic downturn attributed to COVID-19," said IANA president and CEO Joni Casey. "Slowing imports and declining diesel prices affected both international and domestic volumes. We anticipate that the Q2 drop-off should be a floor going forward.”
The seven highest-density trade corridors, collectively handling more than 60% of total volume, were all down for the quarter, IANA added.
Despite surging sales, Walmart Inc. has laid off hundreds of workers in units including store planning, logistics, merchandising and real estate, according to Bloomberg. It is also reorganizing its roughly 4,750 U.S. stores by consolidating divisions and eliminating some regional manager roles.
“We are continuing on our journey to create an omni-channel organization within our Walmart U.S. business and we’re making some additional changes this week,” Walmart said in an email, declining to comment specifically on the plans. The company said its goal is to increase “innovation, speed and productivity.”
Airbus SE cut back wide-body jet production after it burned through 4.4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in the second quarter, Bloomberg reported. The world’s biggest planemaker will now aim to produce five A350 aircraft a month rather than the six targeted in April, according to a statement Thursday.
The move followed an even steeper cutback at archrival Boeing Co. announced a day earlier.
With global fleets largely grounded during the second quarter, Airbus delivered one-third the number of planes it did a year earlier. The company is clamping down on costs with the aim of halting cash outflows in the second half, as it braces for a depressed travel market that could last for several years.
The U.S. economy suffered its sharpest downturn since at least the 1940s in the second quarter, highlighting how the pandemic has ravaged businesses across the country and left millions of Americans out of work, Bloomberg reported. The number filing for unemployment benefits increased for a second straight week.
China’s state-run companies are stashing away more than $1 billion of American cotton from the past three months that they no longer need — dimming the outlook for further imports, Bloomberg reported.
The purchases — made as part of the phase one trade deal between Washington and Beijing — are hitting just as the pandemic shuts down clothing stores, decimating demand. The trade deal requires China to buy $36.5 billion in U.S. agricultural products this year.
The spread of COVID-19 has caused havoc in the global cotton industry, with shutdowns and bankruptcies of retailers including J.C. Penney Co. and Neiman Marcus Group Inc. hurting demand. World consumption is forecast to drop 23 million bales, the most on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.
The European Union reached an agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc. for supplies of the company’s antiviral drug remdesivir to combat the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported. The European Commission signed a 63 million-euro ($74 million) contract with Gilead for batches of Veklury — the brand name for remdesivir — to be made available to EU countries and the U.K. starting in early August.
Eastman Kodak Co. has received a $765 million government loan to help produce ingredients used in key generic medicines to fight the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported. The first of its kind under the Defense Production Act, the loan is intended to speed production of drugs in short supply.
The money could provide a lifeline to Kodak, the storied photography giant that declared bankruptcy in 2012 as business and shares were devastated by the switch to filmless cameras.
Now, the 132-year-old company will be reorienting part of its factory structure to produce drug ingredients, including at sites in Rochester, New York, and St. Paul, Minnesota, under a new Kodak Pharmaceuticals arm.
Nike Inc. is winding down operations at a facility in Goodyear, Arizona, marking an abrupt turnabout for a project meant to become a state-of-the-art plant for its Nike Air shoe line, Bloomberg reported.
The company acquired the property in 2019 and set about turning it into the third so-called Air Manufacturing Innovation facility in the U.S. The $184 million investment was expected to generate more than 500 full-time jobs, the sportswear giant said in July of last year.
Despite more COVID-19 testing capacity than any other country, many U.S. labs aren’t running anywhere near capacity because of supply-chain bottlenecks, according to Reuters interviews with 16 hospital, state, commercial and academic labs and an analysis of state and city procurement plans.
Many states have planned to buy automated diagnostic machines from just two manufacturers, even though the same equipment was already running below capacity or idled in other states because of shortages of chemicals or parts.
Other countries, including China and Canada, have not been hamstrung to the same extent by supply shortages. Their use of less automated testing provided more flexibility in sourcing such materials.
General Mills Inc. has struck several new partnerships with contract manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials — and expanded existing ones — since March to meet heightened demand for its products, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The packaged-food giant will boost the number of partners by as much as 20% on top of the 200 it had before the pandemic, company executives said. They expect these third parties to be part of the supply chain until at least next summer.
U.S. bookings for durable goods — or goods meant to last at least three years — increased 7.3% in June, led by a spike in demand for motor vehicles and a pickup in business activity more broadly as states reopened their economies, Bloomberg reported. Economists had called for a 6.9% gain.
Core capital goods orders, a category that excludes aircraft and military hardware, climbed 3.3%, also more than forecast.
The second-straight month of gains suggests manufacturing is stabilizing, though a full recovery from the pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, lockdowns and diminished demand will take time. Orders are still significantly below pre-pandemic levels, but so far, spending on goods has experienced a largely V-shaped recovery, unlike the service sector.
The European Union let member countries suspend import duties on medical equipment needed to fight the coronavirus for three more months, Bloomberg reported.
Tariffs on goods such as masks, testing kits and ventilators will be suspended until Oct. 31 amid a resurgence in cases worldwide, according to the European Commission’s official journal. The move also maintains a suspension of value-added tax on the products.
Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. That makes the search-engine giant the first major U.S. corporation to formalize such an extended timetable in the face of the pandemic.
With an additional $472 million award from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Moderna’s shot is now backed by $955 million of funds from the U.S., Bloomberg reported. The first participants in the 30,000 person study have been dosed, the company said.
Moderna said it remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly as many as 1 billion, beginning in 2021.
The latest shipper survey from Morgan Stanley reveals "mixed results" across transportation modes.
In general, Morgan Stanley said, the survey saw a "rebound in expectations" among shippers, who continue to "grapple with an uncertain future." Yet results by mode differed sharply, with trucking the most negative, rail mixed, and parcel undergoing positive change.
The survey "did not quite see a full V-shaped recovery in shipper expectations — though we are sort of halfway there," Morgan Stanley said. "However, COVID-19 disruption and the struggle to define a new normal was evident across several data points."
Contradictions emerged in the state of inventory. Shippers' inventory levels experienced the sharpest decline in at least a decade, and net ordering levels also fell sharply to lows seen during the "mini-recessions" of 2011, 2015, and 2019. "It appears to us that shippers need to restock but are unable/unwilling to do so — which could signal a potential restocking boom to come," Morgan Stanley said.
Most industries reported a "bounce" in shipper sentiment from the previous survey, according to Morgan Stanley. "The bounce makes it clear that the worst is over for now and a rebuild could be on the cards, but with cases spiking in various parts of the country and market dynamics changing so quickly, we find ourselves at a crossroads once again, looking out to the next survey in three months' time."
About 400,000 airline workers have been fired, furloughed or told they may lose their jobs due to the coronavirus, according to Bloomberg calculations.
British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Emirates Airline and Qantas Airways Ltd. are among the carriers announcing thousands of dismissals and unpaid leave programs.
Many more are expected in the U.S. after a ban on job cuts — a condition of a $50 billion government bailout — is lifted at the end of September. Delta Air Lines Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. have already warned about 35,000 employees that their jobs are at risk. The trio’s combined personnel losses could top 100,000 by year-end.
Intel Corp. warned about another production delay, sparking concern the world’s largest chipmaker will fall further behind rivals in a crucial area it once dominated, Bloomberg reported.
A new method for cranking out smaller, more powerful chips “is shifting approximately six months relative to prior expectations,” the company said. Its first 7-nanometer chips will go on sale at the end of 2022 or early 2023 — a year behind schedule.
Rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is already selling 7-nanometer-based processors.
U.S. jobless claims rose last week for the first time since March, Bloomberg reported, the clearest sign yet of a pause in the economic recovery as cases surge in much of the country and force businesses to close once again.
The U.K. government announced an additional 100 million pounds ($127 million) for a facility to scale up production of any successful COVID-19 vaccine, Reuters reported. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Centre, which will be based in Essex, will be able to produce millions of doses a month when it opens in December 2021. Another site west of the capital is already under construction. Officials say it will be able to produce enough doses for the whole U.K. population by next year.
More than 25 large American companies plan to reduce their office space in the year ahead, according to Reuters, a move designed to reduce the second-largest expense after payrolls at corporations.
Analysts say the plans to cut back on real estate are likely the first wave of cost-cutting measures to hit office workers as companies try to maintain margins going into what may be a long recession. So far, the majority of the 14.7 million U.S. jobs lost during the pandemic have been in hard-hit areas such as restaurants, travel and retailers.
U.S. health officials agreed on an order for as many as 600 million doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, Bloomberg reported. The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95 billion upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval, according to a statement, with an option to acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.
Chinese fuel producers are ramping up gasoline exports as stockpiles stay swollen amid softer demand due to flooding and a resurgence of virus infections, according to Bloomberg. This comes after a short reprieve in May when some state-owned refiners diverted more motor fuel to local markets when people opted for private over public transport.
The country’s average daily exports of gasoline — 294,400 barrels — in July is currently at the highest level in four months as Chinese refiners pour more gasoline into regional markets. The flood of spot cargoes into Asia contributed to weaker gasoline prices in the region and caused prompt supplies to fall to a discount to later-loading oil.
As the region grapples with a surge in supply, it’s also facing a bleak demand outlook. Global gasoline consumption is expected to drop by 1.7 million barrels a day in the second half of 2020 from a year earlier, according to JBC Energy.
Four of the biggest airlines in the U.S. and Europe are pressing for an international accord on coronavirus testing to allow broad trans-Atlantic travel, Bloomberg reported.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG and commercial ally United Airlines Holdings Inc. joined with British Airways owner IAG SA and partner American Airlines Group Inc. to seek a U.S.-European Union testing program that would replace restrictions that prevent the recovery of commercial air travel. The U.S.-Europe market is the biggest for high-profit business trips.
“Given the unquestioned importance of trans-Atlantic air travel to the global economy as well as to the economic recovery of our businesses, we believe it is critical to find a way to re-open air services between the U.S. and Europe,” the carriers said in letter to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs.
The International Air Transport Association warned on July 1 that its estimate for a 36% drop in traffic this year could worsen to 53% if curbs on trans-Atlantic travel remain in place.
European regulators could approve the first vaccine against COVID-19 this year, after a flurry of trials by drugmakers leading the race showed promising results, Bloomberg reported.
“We are preparing ourselves for that possibility so that we as regulators will be ready,” Marco Cavaleri, head of anti-infectives and vaccines at the European Medicines Agency, said in an interview Tuesday. “It will be a matter of seeing whether this data could be sufficient for allowing any kind of approval by the end of 2020.”
Separately, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior medical adviser, Chris Whitty, said there is only a slim chance of an effective vaccine being available by Christmas, even as the University of Oxford reported progress on its initiative.
European Union leaders agreed on an unprecedented stimulus package worth 750 billion euros ($860 billion) to pull their economies out of the worst recession in memory and tighten the financial bonds holding their 27 nations together, Bloomberg reported.
The agreement required the unanimous approval of the member states and represents a victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who drafted an early outline for the proposal in May. The emergency fund will give out 390 billion euros of grants and 360 billion euros of low-interest loans.
Almost a third of the funds are earmarked for fighting climate change and, together with the bloc’s next 1 trillion-euro, seven-year budget, will constitute the biggest green stimulus package in history. All expenditure must be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of cutting greenhouse gases.
U.S. retail shipping volumes rose 9% in June, and 20% when April and May are added to the calculation, according to the latest research from FourKites.
While the numbers varied by state, with the highest increases in Texas, Florida, California, Michigan and New York, the overall trend was generally the same across the country, FourKites said. It added that the increases "generally reflect the lifting of shelter-in-place orders and restrictions on public gatherings."
Shipment volumes correlated to a spike in retail sales, which rose 17% in May, versus a 16.4% drop in March and April. However, the data doesn't fully reflect the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in some states over the past several weeks, which has led to a pause or reversal of the reopening of many businesses.
"It’s important to keep in mind that the situation remains very fluid, particularly given the recent climb in the coronavirus infection rates in many states, and increasing talk of reinstating lockdowns," said FourKites chief technology officer Vivek Vaid. "Interestingly, some of the states registering the highest increases in retail loads are also reporting increased numbers of COVID-19 infections, as authorities in California, Texas and Florida hit the pause button on their reopening plans."
A bipartisan panel of legislators raised questions Monday about the Treasury Department’s decision to designate trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc. as critical to national security and lend it $700 million in coronavirus-relief funds, The Wall Street Journal reported. The loan was the first from a $17 billion pot of money created by the Cares Act for businesses critical to national security.
YRC didn’t meet Treasury’s standards for identifying such businesses, which usually must have either high-priority defense contracts or top-secret security clearance, according to a report by the Congressional Oversight Commission.
Instead, the company qualified “under a catch-all provision created by the Treasury…based solely on a recommendation and certification from the Secretary of Defense or the Director of National Intelligence,” the report said.
The commission said it plans to investigate the decision “in part, because the risk of loss of U.S. taxpayer money on this loan appears high.”
Shipments of diesel and jet fuel from East Asia to Europe are set to stay low for a while yet, potentially aiding hard-pressed European refiners, according to Bloomberg.
Only two ships hauling about 160,000 tons of fuel have sailed the route so far this month, and just one is currently booked to make the voyage in the coming weeks. That’s a sharp contrast with the May-June period, when in excess of two million tons arrived in Europe from East Asia — more than the combined arrivals for the whole of January-April. Some of May-June’s deluge is still floating aboard ships off the coast of northwest Europe.
It’s too early to say whether the drop will be mirrored in shipments from other key fuel suppliers to the region such as the Middle East and the U.S.
More than half of U.K. manufacturers plan to permanently cut jobs in the next six months, with the automotive and aerospace sectors under particular pressure, according to Bloomberg.
Some 53% of employers are planning to make redundancies during that period, the highest proportion since the start of the coronavirus crisis, lobby group Make UK said, citing a poll of 170 firms. Almost one-third expect to cut up to 25% of posts, while 8% may eliminate half.
Make UK chief Stephen Phipson said the figures show Britain needs to provide a six-month extension to a state-funded furlough scheme set to expire at the end of October. He said the help should be offered specifically to carmakers and aerospace companies, which the industry group forecasts will suffer most.
ASOS Plc, Marks & Spencer Group Plc and Walmart Inc.’s Asda are among retailers calling for greater protection of garment factory workers in Britain in the wake of labor abuse reports at a site supplying Boohoo Group Plc., Bloomberg reported.
More than 90 retailers, lawmakers and investors signed an open letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging immediate action. The joint letter, coordinated by the British Retail Consortium and published Monday, called for the U.K. to implement a “Fit to Trade” licensing program that will ensure all clothing factories meet legal obligations including the minimum wage, holiday pay and providing health and safety protection.
Boohoo has lost about 40% of its market value since the Sunday Times reported on July 5 that a Leicester factory supplying the company was paying workers less than half the minimum wage and failing to implement social-distancing measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.K., Andrei Kelin, rejected allegations that hackers linked to the country’s intelligence services targeted British coronavirus vaccine research, and accused Britain of cyberattacks against Russia, Bloomberg reported.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said on Thursday that vaccine and therapeutic sectors in multiple countries have been targeted by a group known as APT29, which it said is “almost certainly” part of Russian state intelligence. Security agencies in the U.S. and Canada later backed the findings.
American companies like 3M, Honeywell and Prestige Ameritech Ltd. are investing in expansions to produce more masks in the U.S. in response to requests from hospitals and governments seeking a guaranteed domestic supply for several years, according to The Wall Street Journal. The reinvented supply chain means that producers of the machines and materials required to assemble N95 masks are ramping up U.S. production too.
The added capacity won’t exceed domestic N95 demand until this winter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates, when the U.S. will be producing 180 million N95 masks a month — up from around 45 million in January.
Johnson & Johnson is in discussions with multiple countries and a charitable foundation to determine how much of its experimental coronavirus vaccine will be needed, according to Bloomberg.
Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk said they are in talks with the European Union, Japan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We’re still trying to determine the volumes,” he said in an interview.
U.S. retail sales exceeded forecasts in June for a second straight month, Bloomberg reported, as more businesses reopened and expanded jobless benefits padded the wallets of the unemployed.
The value of retail purchases increased 7.5% from the prior month after an upwardly revised record 18.2% surge in May, according to Commerce Department data out Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 5% gain for June.
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits posted the smallest weekly decline since March after coronavirus cases surged and reopenings paused or reversed across the South and West, Bloomberg reported.
Initial jobless claims in regular state programs totaled 1.3 million in the week ended July 11, down 10,000 from the prior period, Labor Department figures showed. Economists had forecast a larger drop, to 1.25 million initial claims.
Technology hubs across North America have remained resilient during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by CBRE.
The firm conducts an annual ranking of the 50 top markets for technology talent. Leading the list this year were the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C. and Seattle.
With demand for tech services growing in North America, "the pandemic is unlikely to derail the growing importance of tech-talent hubs across the region," CBRE said.
Tech-related occupations withstand economic disruptions better than most other sectors "because employers are reluctant to let go of coveted tech skills when both tech talent and tech services are in high demand," CBRE said, adding that tech employment in the 2008-2010 recession declined by 0.5%, versus a 5.5% percent drop in overall U.S. employment.
Most tech-talent hubs and professions are likely to see even greater opportunities for growth after the pandemic subsides, said Colin Yasukochi, executive director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center. “Markets that have strong innovation infrastructure — leading universities and high concentrations of tech jobs — will lead the next growth cycle.”
American Airlines is sending 25,000 notices of potential furloughs to frontline workers and warned that demand for air travel is slowing again, Reuters reported.
After boosting summer flying following some signs of pent-up leisure demand in May and June, some airlines are now scaling back their schedules due to a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Overall, American expects to be overstaffed by about 20,000 in the fall, but hopes to reduce the actual number of furloughs through enhanced leave and early-departure programs it has rolled out alongside unions, Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a memo to employees. By encouraging more senior workers to leave, U.S. airlines could trim their labor costs — their main expense — during the recovery. Airline union contracts require airlines to furlough junior workers first.
Delta Air Lines also said this week it believed it could avoid furloughs in the fall after about 17,000 employees signed up for early-departure deals. United Airlines has sent 36,000 furlough notices, representing about 45% of workers, and Southwest Airlines has also warned that job losses will be hard to avoid.
Walmart Inc. will require customers to wear masks in all of its U.S. stores to protect against the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.
The measure will go into effect starting July 20, U.S. Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith said in a blog post Wednesday. The retailer will place employees, dubbed “Health Ambassadors,” near the entrance to “remind those without a mask of the new requirements,” it said. Stores will have a single entrance. Walmart’s decision follows similar moves by Costco Wholesale Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Best Buy Co.
U.S. industrial production in June posted the largest monthly gain since 1959, Bloomberg reported, indicating manufacturing is stirring to life. Total output at factories, mines and utilities increased 5.4% from the prior month after climbing 1.4% in May, Federal Reserve data showed. The Fed’s index of industrial output remains 10.9% below pre-pandemic levels. What’s more, sales may be tempered in coming months as states like California impose renewed lockdown measures.
About 90% of U.S. hospitals and health systems are building safety stocks of about 20 critical medications for a possible surge in the fall, according to The Wall Street Journal.
More than half are trying to build at least one month’s supply of medications, including those for patients on mechanical ventilation, says Premier Inc., one of the nation’s largest group-purchasing organizations. Many of those drugs remain in short supply as hospitals in Florida, Texas and California compete for limited resources.
Drugmakers, meanwhile, have ramped up production, and wholesalers have expanded caps on how much hospitals may order, according to industry officials.
U.S. small-business optimism jumped in June by the most since December 2016 as states reopened and owners expected the current recession to be short-lived, Bloomberg reported.
The National Federation of Independent Business’ index of sentiment increased 6.2 points in June to 100.6, the second straight gain after hitting a seven-year low two months earlier. More states reopened their economies in June, though a number of governors paused or rolled back their plans to reopen at the end of the month due to spikes in the virus.
Apple Inc. is pushing retail staff to work remotely as the virus forces the company to shut some of its stores again, according to a video message sent to employees. It is also shipping COVID-19 test kits to employees’ homes, and told staff in a memo that a full return to U.S. offices won’t occur before the end of the year, Bloomberg reported.
“If your store is closed, please sign up for Retail at Home, please talk to your manager, because we really need to make sure that we shift our teams to greet our customers remotely in this time,” Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people, told staff in the video. “We may need to be working remotely for some period of time.”
Moderna Inc.’s experimental vaccine for COVID-19 could generate sales of more than $5 billion a year, a Jefferies analyst told Bloomberg. With a 30,000 person late-stage study set to kick off sometime this month, Moderna’s shot leads the pack in the global vaccine race.
Analyst Michael Yee predicts mRNA-1273, as the vaccine is known, will get “at least” an emergency use authorization by early next year. There are more than 20 candidates in human testing, while at least another 130 vaccines are in even earlier stages of development, according to the World Health Organization.
Intensive testing of meat, seafood and other products for the coronavirus has tripled customs clearance times at some major Chinese ports, Bloomberg reported.
It normally takes about three days to clear the produce but is now taking as long as 10, one official said, due to new testing of cold food shipments that began in June. Of 227,934 samples taken by China customs, six have tested positive for the virus.
Toyota Motor Corp. will reopen its Venezuelan plant on Monday, meaning all factories in South America will be operational, Bloomberg reported. The auto giant has already opened all its plants in Japan, North America and Europe.
From February, Toyota halted production in many countries, starting with China, as the coronavirus spread.
Global coffee consumption is set to fall this year for the first time since 2011, Bloomberg reported, even with a huge surge in bean buying at the grocery store amid pantry loading.
Shutdowns for cafes and restaurants — which typically account for about 25% of demand — have reached more than 95% globally at some point during the pandemic, and it could be a while before things pick up again.
Thailand is ramping up domestic production of COVID-19 test kits to avoid a potential shortage, Bloomberg reported, as it prepares for a possible second wave of infections after most businesses and services reopened.
While no new cases have been detected from local transmission for more than six weeks, some experts have attributed this feat to low testing rates — only 600,000 samples have been analyzed in a country with 69 million people.
Thailand’s strategy to ramp up production mirrors its home-grown vaccine-development plan. Both reflect concern that a global tug-of-war over supply of resources would put Thais at risk.
A surge in demand for soap and hand sanitizer during the pandemic has led to a global shortage of plastic hand pumps that dispense the products, propelling companies to redesign packaging and urge customers to reuse pumps, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Sales of hand sanitizer are up almost fivefold in the first half of this year, but the jump in demand for hand pumps has been much tougher to meet, partly because they are complicated to make.
Executives say the price of pumps — most of which are made in China — has rocketed and that lead times on orders, typically five weeks, are now stretching into next year.
More than a dozen countries with crucial global shipping hubs including the U.S., Singapore and the United Arab Emirates agreed to ease port and border restrictions for seafarers to help the more than 200,000 workers still stranded on vessels return home.
The pact comes after months of pressure on governments, ports and shippers to find ways to get workers off vessels after a rash of suicides and an uptick in expired contracts.
A new survey of business-to-business payment trends by Atradius finds a "massive increase" in late payments across the U.S., Mexico and Canada trade region this year.
Across the region governed by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), 43% of the total value of invoices issued were unpaid by their due date, a 25% jump from the prior year. In addition, the value of long-overdue invoices (aged more than 90 days), has doubled, and 4% of the total value of outstanding invoices has been written off, Atradius reported.
Businesses throughout the U.S. reported a 72% year-on-year increase in payment defaults, the survey found.
"This year’s survey results reveal compromised cash flows and an increased reliance on bank finance, as businesses grapple with COVID-19 containment measures," Atradius said.
"With all three countries now in recession, the outlook is bleak," the firm added. "Despite this, the majority of businesses surveyed expect growth in the coming months. This optimism was grounded in the belief that banks will continue to provide credit and will cushion the effects of poor cash flow."
The amount of global consumption lost in the pandemic roughly equals the size of the German economy, but the slump also led to the biggest ever drop in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a University of Sydney-led study that claims to be the first to quantify the world’s economic losses and environmental gains from COVID-19.
The study reflects the scale of the pandemic’s impact as it grounded planes, disrupted supplies and forced stores to close, Bloomberg reported.
Using live data collected until May 22, the report came up with some staggering statistics. Global consumption dropped by $3.8 trillion and 147 million jobs were lost — 4.2% of the global workforce. Some $2.1 trillion in income, wages and salaries evaporated.
Moderna Inc. joined with Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi SA to help supply its COVID-19 shot, one of the leading vaccine candidates against the disease, as companies prepare to produce any successful inoculation as soon as possible, Bloomberg reported.
The Spanish pharmaceutical company will provide vial filling and packaging capacity to Moderna, according to a statement Thursday, as Moderna prepares to produce hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine for markets outside the U.S. starting in early 2021.
U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 5.65 million barrels last week to near record-high inventories, Bloomberg reported.
While gasoline demand is improving — particularly on the East Coast, where coronavirus cases are slowing — seasonal consumption remains at a two-decade low.
American consumers may not be prepared to return to pre-pandemic spending levels. More than 40% of people who spent money on movies, event tickets or at bars before the pandemic now plan to spend less on those activities, according to a CreditCards.com survey reported by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, more than 60% of small businesses say they need spending to return to normal by the end of the year to stay open, according to American Express data.
A new survey of 8,000 office-based workers by The Adecco Group signals the coming of big changes in workplaces in a post-pandemic world.
In the survey, "Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work," 76% of respondents said a mix of office-based and remote working is the preferred model for the future, with 51% preferring to spend only half of their time in an office.
Eighty-four percent of respondents said their employer should be responsible for ensuring a better work environment after the pandemic, while 94% of employees felt managers have "met or exceeded" their expectations during the coronavirus pandemic.
The survey revealed a desire to rethink the 9-5 workweek model. Seventy-three percent of respondents said employers should revisit the length of the working week and the hours that employees are expected to work. They suggested that employee contracts evolve to focus more on meeting the needs of the business than on set hours.
"The world of work will never return to the 'normal' we knew before the pandemic struck," said Alain Dehaze, chief executive officer of The Adecco Group. "The sudden and dramatic change in the workplace landscape has accelerated such emerging trends such as flexible working, high-EQ leadership, and reskilling, to the point where they are now fundamental to organizational success."
Coronavirus infections surged at U.S. meat plants in May from a month earlier, with the brunt of the spread hitting ethnic and minority groups, Bloomberg reported.
COVID-19 was confirmed in 16,233 workers at American meat plants through the end of May, and included 86 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report. The data is an update from a study covering April 9‒27 that identified 4,900 sick workers and 20 deaths related to the virus.
The figures, obtained from 239 facilities in 23 states, show a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups, the CDC said. Among the 9,919 cases in 21 states that provided information on worker race and ethnicity, 87% occurred among these populations.
While Hispanics make up less than a third of meat-plant workers in the states reporting demographic information, they accounted for 56% of positive cases. Asians make up about 6% of the workforce but 12% of cases.
“Targeted workplace interventions and prevention efforts that are appropriately tailored to the groups most affected by COVID-19 are critical to reducing both COVID-19-associated occupational risk and health disparities among vulnerable populations,” the CDC said.
An experimental antibody therapy from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. received a $450 million contract from the U.S. government to start ramping up production, Bloomberg reported. The move may signal a new plan of attack for the Trump Administration to concentrate on so-called “neutralizing” antibodies that are tailored to mimic immune responses to the virus.
Other companies racing to come up with antibody treatments include AstraZeneca Plc and Vir Biotechnology Inc. in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline Plc.
Novavax was awarded $1.6 billion from Operation Warp Speed to support large-scale manufacturing of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, Bloomberg reported.
The funds will allow the company to conduct advanced human studies and establish manufacturing to deliver 100 million doses as soon as late 2020, Novavax said in a statement. A final-stage study of its vaccine candidate is planned for as early as this fall, with as many as 30,000 subjects.
Almost half of businesses taking part in the U.K. government’s coronavirus jobs program expect to let go of furloughed staff when support ends in October, according to Bloomberg.
The problem is more acute for medium-sized businesses, two-thirds of whom say they’ll have to cut jobs when the wage subsidies expire, according to polling by Opinium and the think tank Bright Blue. A quarter of businesses will struggle to increase their share of employee salaries between August and October, the report showed.
Over nine million people in the U.K. have been furloughed since the coronavirus lockdown started in March. To prevent a spike in unemployment and to ease the drop in consumer spending, the government has been paying 80% of salaries, with companies able to top it up to 100%.
The coronavirus pandemic is responsible for a drop in user-generated revenue sources for maintenance and construction of the nation's transportation infrastructure, according to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The report, "COVID-19’s Impacts on America’s Infrastructure," reviews funding and investment trends for airports, bridges, dams, ports, roads, transit, and water supply. It notes a 49% drop in revenue from the federal Highway Trust Fund in May 2020, compared with May 2019. Additional findings include an estimated $23.3 billion loss in airport revenue due to a 95% decline in domestic air travel, and an estimated decline of 20% to 30% in total annual receipts at the nation's ports.
ASCE calls for passage of multi-year surface transportation reauthorization to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, before such authorization expires on September 30, 2020. In the shorter term, it recommends $50 billion in immediate relief for state departments of transportation, "to ensure that bridges, roads, and transit systems remain safe, reliable, and ready for Americans to resume pre-pandemic routines."
Among other recommendations, ASCE urges Congress to authorize $1.5 billion in support of operations and capital costs at seaports, and the appropriation of $1 billion in supplemental funding for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program.
German factory orders rose less than expected in May even after authorities loosened the coronavirus lockdown, Bloomberg reported.
Orders rose 10.4% in May, following a cumulative slump of more than 37% in the previous two months. The Economy Ministry said that while the data suggest Germany’s industrial recession has passed the trough, “the low level of orders also indicates that the catch-up process won’t be completed for a long time.”
Companies involved in a Trump administration effort to provide coronavirus medical supplies described a chaotic and inefficient process and warned of a continuing shortage despite months of efforts, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In recent weeks, medical equipment distributors reported their concerns to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which laid out the concerns in a memo Thursday.
Medical companies received no guidance from the federal government in the first months of the pandemic when they tried to deliver desperately needed protective equipment such as masks and gowns for health-care workers, according to the 13-page memo. Instead, companies were forced to rely on “publicly available information and customer demand to make purchasing and procurement decisions.”
Now, as coronavirus cases surge across the country after months of efforts, “there are still severe shortages of [personal protective equipment] and critical medical equipment,” the memo says.
Logistics operators hired at a brisk pace in June as companies serving the e-commerce market brought on more than 80,000 workers and factories started resuming production following coronavirus-triggered shutdowns, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Trucking companies also added 8,100 jobs from May to June, the biggest one-month gain in the sector since September 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Payrolls in the sector are still down about 95,000 from a year ago.
Warehousing and storage companies added 60,500 jobs last month, adding to a hiring surge that has come as consumers stuck in their homes order more goods online — and boosted by recent resurgent factory activity.
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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