Stock Market: Live News During the Coronavirus Pandemic


Disney World will begin to reopen in July.

Walt Disney World in Florida, which draws 93 million people a year as one of the world’s largest tourist sites, will reopen to the public on a limited basis in mid-July.

The Walt Disney Company presented its reopening plan on Wednesday to the Orange County Recovery Task Force in Orlando. Two of Disney World’s four main theme parks, the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom, will reopen on July 11 with reduced capacity and numerous safety precautions, including mandatory face masks for all visitors and employees. Disney World’s remaining major parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, will reopen on July 15. The resort has been closed since March 15.

Disney said its “thoughtful, methodical and phased” approach to reopening would include increased use of plexiglass barriers and contactless payment systems. All visitors will need a reservation. Temperature checks will be conducted at entrances. Disney also said its parades, fireworks displays and character meet and greets would be suspended because of crowd control concerns.

Disney did not give reopening dates for its two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Disney Springs, an adjacent 120-acre shopping mall, began to reopen on May 20.

Businesses surveyed by the Federal Reserve were hopeful that economic activity would begin to pick up as states reopened, but most were “pessimistic about the potential pace of recovery.”

The Fed’s Beige Book, a regularly-published collection of qualitative business assessments, showed that companies were not expecting a rapid rebound, as they struggled to rehire workers and wait for demand to recover. Many companies were still shedding workers, and businesses who were trying to hire cited several factors complicating their attempt to restart their work force, including child care issues, enhanced unemployment benefits and health fears.

Especially hard-hit companies also appeared to be deferring or skipping rent payments.

“Commercial real estate contacts mentioned that a large number of retail tenants had deferred or missed rent payments,” the Beige Book noted.

In the New York region’s services sector, “business contacts continued to express great uncertainty about whether and when business would get back to reasonably normal levels, but there continued to be fairly widespread pessimism,” the report said.

Companies in that region also reported that “many” unemployed workers were “reluctant to return to work — some attributed this to generous unemployment benefits, as well as safety concerns.”

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company after ExxonMobil, is planning to cut 10 to 15 percent of its 45,000 employees worldwide in a sweeping overhaul.

Veronica Flores-Paniagua, a company spokesman, said that employees were notified of the layoffs on Tuesday, and that most would occur by the end of the year.

“It is a difficult business decision driven by a very challenging economic time,” she said, referring to the plummeting oil prices in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic reduced demand for transportation and power fuels. “The impacts are still being worked out, but they are going to vary across location, across business segment, across function.”

The cuts come as the California-based Chevron is slashing $1 billion from its 2020 operating costs, a move announced in March.

Tens of thousands of oil workers have lost their jobs this year, most of them employed by service companies doing oil field work for the producers. ExxonMobil, Chevron’s main rival, has said it has no immediate layoff plans but is cutting spending. BP told employees in late March that there would be no layoffs for three months.

With varied international operations and a large presence in the Permian Basin shale field in West Texas, Chevron has been a favorite of investors because of its relatively strong balance sheet and a 5.5 percent dividend that is considered secure.

Boeing said Wednesday that it was taking a significant step toward its goal of slashing 10 percent of its global work force by laying off more than 6,700 employees in the United States, all of whom will be notified this week. Another 5,500 workers have been approved for voluntary buyouts and will leave within weeks.

Boeing’s commercial business, which was most exposed to the devastating decline in air travel, will suffer the deepest cuts, the company said. Its defense and space operations have been more insulated.

“The Covid-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices,” the chief executive, David L. Calhoun, said in a note to employees. “I wish there were some other way.”

A potential stumbling block for it is the cost. Netflix’s no-frills plan costs $9 a month. Disney Plus charges $7 a month. But HBO Max is asking people to spend $15 a month, at a time when household budgets are constrained by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Wall Street was heading for another gain on Wednesday as investors kept their focus on the prospect for economic recovery.

The S&P 500 was up nearly 1 percent in afternoon trading — after swinging back and forth between gains and losses earlier as weakness in large technology stocks offset gains in other parts of the market.

Wednesday’s trading reflected optimism about a return to normal as states lift stay-at-home restrictions. Companies that will benefit as shoppers are allowed back in stores, and people begin to travel again, were among the best performers in the S&P 500. Nordstrom, Gap and Kohl’s each rose more than 10 percent.

It’s been an unsteady period for stocks, with the S&P 500 alternating between gains and losses, as expectations for an eventual recovery from the coronavirus pandemic have squared off against the reality that the damage is still severe and likely to continue for some time.

On Wednesday, investors were cheered by the news of fiscal stimulus proposals from the European Union and Japan. In Japan, the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved more than a trillion dollars in stimulus money. In Brussels, the European Commission seemed on the verge of introducing expansive financial measures to support the bloc. Shares in Europe mostly ended higher.

Wall Street analysts have grown increasingly pessimistic in recent weeks about the outlook for corporate profits, even as investors have pushed markets steadily higher, breaking the link between analyst forecasts and the direction of stock prices.

Most companies in the S&P 500 stock index have reported their first-quarter earnings, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on profits is becoming clear, at least for January through March. On a per-share basis, profits of S&P 500 companies fell by 13 percent, making it the worst slump since 2009.

Analysts say they think that things will get worse before they get better. At the end of March, the consensus among analysts was that profits at companies that make up the index would sink a modest 1.8 percent in 2020. But after digesting the financial reports of companies from Agilent Technologies to Zions Bancorp, they now think 2020 profits will tumble more than 20 percent.

Going by the conventional wisdom, the current collapse in profit expectations — and analysts’ woeful prognoses for future earnings — should be clobbering share prices. But investors don’t appear to be taking their cues from analysts. The S&P 500 has soared more than 30 percent over the last two months.

The European Union’s executive arm laid out on Wednesday the details of a recovery package worth 750 billion euros, or about $826 billion, for its 27 member economies, especially those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns put in place to stop its spread.

Europe’s recovery effort will be difficult and expensive, as some of its economies are set to shrink as much as 10 percent this year. Germany and other wealthy countries have their own funds available to spend immediately to prop up their economies, but poorer European Union members need help.

The program, which was presented by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in an address to the European Parliament on Wednesday, hinges on using its own budget to issue bonds in international capital markets, and then distributing the proceeds according to members’ needs. It is seen as a breakthrough for the bloc’s integration, even if it is a one-off.

The fund will distribute €500 billion worth of grants — free money that will not be piled on to national debt — to all 27 member states, with Italy getting the largest slice, followed by Spain.

As with most things in the bloc’s administrative capital, Brussels, the plan is the product of compromise between conflicting visions of what the European Union can do to help its members in times of crisis. It requires unanimous support by all nations, as well as the European Parliament’s blessing, and so a long road of negotiations lies ahead before it is finalized.

Japan made similar moves on Wednesday as its cabinet approved more than a trillion dollars in stimulus funds, including a combination of subsidies to companies and people. The Parliament is expected to approve the measure next month.

Japan’s proposal follows a raft of measures that the country passed in April. Taken together, the two packages would be equivalent to 40 percent of Japan’s economic output, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Wednesday.

Genesis said that it took in $1.09 billion in revenue compared to $1.16 billion during the same quarter a year ago. The company’s earnings outlook brightened over the past year as it sold some of its facilities and reduced the number of nursing homes that it rented from corporate landlords.

The earnings report covered the quarter that ended in March, when the coronavirus crisis first hit hard in the United States. Genesis, which has 42,000 beds, said the first resident tested positive for coronavirus on March 16.

But the company’s outlook for the rest of year could be muddled as it disclosed that occupancy levels at its nursing homes have plunged in the second quarter. The company said that occupancy declined from 88 percent at the end of March to about 76 percent this month, which will mean fewer federal Medicaid and Medicare dollars.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • The eurozone economy is likely to shrink by as much as 12 percent this year, in line with the European Central Bank’s most pessimistic projections a month ago, the bank’s president, Christine Lagarde, said.

  • New data released on Wednesday showed that the Chinese economy — or at least the part involving its vast industrial sector — continues to bounce back from the outbreak. Industrial sales in April rose 5.1 percent compared with a year earlier, statistics officials said.

Reporting was contributed by Clifford Krauss, Jeanna Smialek, Brooks Barnes, Jason Karaian, Niraj Chokshi, Matthew Goldstein, Jack Ewing, Carlos Tejada, Matt Phillips, Ben Dooley, Makiko Inoue, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Mohammed Hadi, Joe Gose, Mary Williams Walsh, Katie Robertson and Kevin Granville.


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