A pause on Wall Street; furloughs ramp up, travel winds down

Business

People passing a coronavirus graffiti by street artist ‘Uzey’ showing Spiderman with a protection mask on a wall in Hamm, Germany, on Easter Monday, April 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

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The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Monday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.

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BOTTOM LINE: Hundreds of companies have withdrawn all financial projections for the year given the unprecedented disruption to the economy and to consumers. But details of the extent of the damage are beginning to surface.

— Ford Motor Co. expects to post a $600 million first-quarter pretax loss and said Monday that it has enough cash to get through the end of September even if vehicle production doesn’t resume.

The Detroit automaker is considering a phased restart of its factories sometime in the second quarter with enhanced safety standards. Only Ford’s joint venture in China is producing vehicles right now. The company suspended its dividend and drew $15.4 billion from two credit lines to bolster cash reserves.

PANTRIES, GROCERS & RESTAURANTS: The coronavirus has upendedthe entire food and beverage industry, from grocery shelves to oysters on the half shell.

— A least 30 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union have died and nearly 3,000 have self-isolated after becoming sick or being exposed to the virus, according to union president Marc Perrone.

The union represents grocery workers, among others. It’s urging customers to be safe by wearing masks in stores, practicing social distancing, and not throwing masks and gloves on the ground when they’re done with them.

— Amazon is now requiring anyone signing up for deliveries from Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods Market to first sign up for an invitation. The crush isolated home-grocery shoppers has created a shortage of delivery slots available despite a 60% increase in capacity put into place by Amazon since the outbreak.

The online retail behemoth said Monday it’s hiring an additional 75,000 workers to help meet surging demand from shoppers wanting essentials. That’s on top of hiring 100,000 workers over the past month. It also said it’s starting to loosen its restrictions on allowing third-party sellers on its platform to ship non-essential items like jeans.

— After the first blast of coronavirus wilted orders, GrubHub, is bouncing back. The online order company said Monday that it’s seeing record numbers of new diners.

Delivery numbers were flat in the first quarter, it conceded, but orders accelerated after the first wave of the virus overtook major markets like New York City. This month, compared with last year, deliveries are up 10%.

— The decline in U.S. restaurant sales due to the new coronavirus could be bottoming out. Sales fell 41% in the week ending April 5 compared to the same week a year ago, according to The NPD Group, a data and consulting firm. They fell 42% in the week prior to that.

AIR, LAND & SEA: The world was immobilizedat lightning speed this year and conditions in the travel sector continue to deteriorate.

— Traffic an U.S. airports hit new lows daily, and fell below 100,000 last week for likely the first time since the jet age began. The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 90,510 people on Sunday, or 3.7% of the nearly 2.5 million people who passed through checkpoints on the corresponding Sunday a year ago.

The airline sector was among the hardest hit Monday on signs of growing tensions with the administration over terms of a rescue package. Shares of American, Delta and United fell between 6% and 8%.

— Carnival is canceling all North American cruises until at least late June. Cruises out of New York and San Francisco have already been cancelled for all of 2020, but late last month Carnival still hoped to resume North American operations in mid-May. The Miami company said it is focused on taking care of crew that remains aboard its ships and getting non-essential workers home.

Restrictions on large groups of people getting together have left businesses that require such gatherings, like movie theaters and concert promoters, scrambling to stay afloat.

— Movie theater chain Cinemark said will try to raise $250 million in a private offering to cover mounting losses as its theaters sit empty due to the impacts of coronavirus.

— Last week, concert and event promoter Live Nation Entertainment negotiated a new credit line of between $120 and $150 million with its lenders and announced that its executives would be taking pay cuts effective April 16.

CRUDE AWAKENING: OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations finalized an unprecedented production cut of nearly 10 million barrels per day over the weekend, or a tenth of global supply, in a bid to halt plunging crude prices.

— U.S. benchmark crude initially jumped more than $1 but then lost ground. It was down 8 cents at $22.68 a barrel. Crude prices, already in decline as the global economy slowed, have been in free fall since the outbreak began, tumbling 62% since the beginning of the year.

— OPEC has historically had a difficult time reining in members and enforcing those cuts. Bank of America says that means the actual cut may be closer to 7 million barrels per day. Energy analysts with the bank believe because the world is so flush with oil, it could mean an extended period of lower prices, particularly in the U.S.

MARKETS: Stocks fellbroadly on Wall Street on Monday after logging their best week since 1974. Every sector on the S&P went negative by midday.

Markets in Europe are closed because of a holiday.

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