Walgreens to cut over 4,000 jobs at Boots on a dark day for U.K. jobs


Walgreens Boots Alliance
WBA,
-7.75%

is to cut 4,000 jobs at pharmacy chain Boots in a dark day for U.K. jobs as the impact of coronavirus lock downs takes it toll on workers.

It joined department store John Lewis and fast-food chain Burger King announcing large scale cuts on Thursday as companies look to restructure themselves as lockdown measures are lifted.

Meanwhile in the U.S., United Airlines
UAL,
-7.25%

warned 36,000 employees on Wednesday that their jobs could be at risk and government figures on Thursday showed 33 million people claiming unemployment benefits.

Walgreens announced a $2 billion impairment charge citing “ongoing uncertainty due to Covid-19” and its third quarter operating loss in Boots U.K.

Read: Walgreens stock falls after reporting $2 billion impairment due to Covid-19

Footfall, a measure of how many people visit a shopping center, in Boots U.K. stores fell by 85% in April as shoppers were advised to only leave home for essential goods, leaving its beauty and fragrance counters practically empty.

It said it would cut 7% of its workforce as part of a restructuring which will also include closing 48 Boots opticians.

“We recognize that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time,” said Boots managing director Sebastian James.

Meanwhile John Lewis, a nationwide department store announced it was closing eight stores which could lead to 1,300 job losses.

The chain said coronavirus had accelerated the shift to online shopping and it would reflect this in its investment.

”We believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the Partnership — and continue to meet the needs of our customers however and wherever they want to shop,” John Lewis chairman Sharon White said.

The job losses came after the boss of Burger King U.K. said it may have to close a 10th of its restaurants which could take a further 1,600 jobs.

Read:Dark day for workers as thousands lose jobs including 15,000 at Boeing rival Airbus

Alasdair Murdoch said during a BBC podcast: “We don’t want to lose any. We try very hard not to, but one’s got to assume somewhere between 5% and 10% of the restaurants might not be able to survive.”

The U.K. government unveiled a £30 billion plan on Wednesday to prevent mass unemployment which will cut taxes on the hospitality industry and offer people state-subsidised meals out.

“People need to know that although hardship lies ahead, no one will be left without hope. Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs,” finance minister Rishi Sunak told British lawmakers.



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Soaring demand for federal jobless benefits points to fresh fissures in the U.S. economy


The number of unemployed people collecting jobless benefits through a temporary federal-relief program has exploded in the past month to more than 14 million, suggesting the U.S. labor market is facing a fresh set of problems.

After a small decline in mid-May, applications for benefits filed through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have soared 53% to 14.4 million as of June 20 from 9.37 million a month earlier. Federal continuing claims are reported with a two-week lag.

Read:Jobless claims fall to four-month low of 1.31 million in early July, but layoffs still high

The increase in federal filings has mostly offset a gradual decline in continuing claims paid out by the states through the traditional unemployment compensation program. They’ve fallen to 16.8 million as of June 27 from a pandemic high of 22.8 million in early May.

All figures are unadjusted for accuracy and an apples-to-apple comparison. The government’s seasonal adjustments don’t apply with federal claims since they did not exist prior to the viral outbreak.

The portrait of the coronavirus-infected labor market looks worse if all continuing jobless claims are combined. Almost 33 million people were receiving benefits as of June 20, up from 31.5 million in the preceding week, according to Labor Department data.

By contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ normally more reliable monthly employment report indicated 17.8 million people were unemployed in June.

The gap between weekly continuing jobless claims and the monthly unemployment numbers has left a big — and inexplicable puzzle — for economists. Why aren’t all these people telling the Labor Department they are unemployed?

Read:Jobless claims tell us 32.9 million people are unemployed, but is it really that bad?

“It tells me one of two things: Either the claims are wrong or the unemployment figures are wrong,” said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors. “There is no other way I can explain that.”

Which numbers should they trust?

Many say it’s hard to fully trust either number given the devastation wrought by a once-in-a-century pandemic and the government’s flailing response to keep track of it all.

State unemployment offices, for example, have been overwhelmed by more than 55 million new claims in the past several months.

Many were also understaffed or relied on ancient technology, a problem compounded by the introduction of a federal relief program that loosened eligibility standards. For the first time ever the self-employed such as mom-and-pop businesses, Uber drivers and other “Gig” workers could get compensation.

It’s possible, economists say, that many federal claims were filed weeks or months ago and are just being reported now. Most states struggled to graft the federal claims program onto their state programs.

Read:U.S. regains 4.8 million jobs in June. Is rehiring poised to slow?

Whatever the case, the more than 14 million people receiving federal benefits would not have been able to collect a dime before the pandemic since they do not contribute to the joint state-federal compensation fund.

Those getting relief under the federal law can get benefits through the rest of the year, but a separate government bonus of up to $600 for each unemployed worker is set to expire at the end of July.

Some economists think the extra benefits may have inflated the claims figures because many workers earn more from unemployment than what their jobs paid. There’s also been scattered reports of workers declining to go back to their jobs because of both safety concerns and the generosity of government benefits.

“The number of people collecting benefits is roughly double the number of people telling the BLS that they are unemployed. Something is fishy here,” wrote Stephen Stanley, chief economist of Amherst Pierpont Securities. “My inclination is, unfortunately, to largely ignore these data until the dust clears a little more, which is a shame because we need timely data now more than ever.”



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Dow futures drift but tech stocks attempt rebound as investors watch rising coronavirus cases and frayed U.S.-China ties


U.S. stock futures were tilting higher early Wednesday but investors digested escalating tensions between the U.S. and China and an acceleration of cases of coronavirus in the U.S., threatening the prospects for a sustainable rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

How are benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
YM00,
-0.05%

YMU20,
-0.05%

are 13 points, or less than 0.1%, lower at 25,757, those for the S&P 500 index
ES00,
+0.02%

ESU20,
+0.02%

were trading 1.60 points, or less than 0.1%, higher at 3,138, while Nasdaq-100 futures
NQ00,
+0.27%

NQU20,
+0.27%

advanced 25.50 points, or 0.2%, at 10,557.75.

On Tuesday, the Dow
DJIA,
-1.51%

tumbled 396.85 points, or 1.5%, to end at 25,890.18, the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-1.08%

shed 34.40 points, or 1.1%, closing at 3,145.32 and end a 5-session win steak; while the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-0.86%

fell 89.76 points, or 0.9%, to finish at 10,343.89, after carving out an intraday 10,518.98 record.

What’s driving the market?

Equity markets are struggling to find a catalyst to substantially move in either direction, as Wall Street parses the latest development in Sino-American relations and an unabated increase in cases of COVID-19 in a number of U.S. states.

The U.S. reported 60,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a single-day record, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average for cases is higher than the 14-day average, an indication that the spread is intensifying, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the publicly available health data.

Overall, more than 2.93 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S. along with at least 130,306 deaths. Texas and Florida have become the epicenters of the recent resurgence, with Florida reporting 7,361 cases on Tuesday and Texas recording more than 10,000 infections—the highest one-day increase in infections thus far.

Also being weighed is a late-Tuesday report from Bloomberg News that top advisers of President Donald Trump have advocated undermining the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. dollar, as a retaliation for Beijing’s new security law imposed on the semiautonomous state.

The report said that such a proposal faces opposition and may harm the U.S. as much as China, but still highlights the potential for further erosion in the relationship between the the world’s two largest economies.

“The US Administration mulling new HKD measures may add nervousness, but on balance the USD’s recovery attempts are also tending to prove quite subdued,” wrote analysts at UniCredit, referring to recent strengthening in the U.S. dollar.

The broader market, with the exception of the technology-laden Nasdaq, have traded in a relatively tight range since a recent peak on June 8 for the S&P 500 index and the Dow, as stalled business reopenings threaten the prospects of a V-shaped, or quick and sharp, recovery from a deep recession, barring a vaccine or effective treatments of the deadly illness.



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Asian shares waver with coronavirus, corporate earnings in focus By Reuters


© Reuters. Employees of the Tokyo Stock Exchange work at the bourse in Tokyo

By Swati Pandey and John McCrank

SYDNEY/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks dithered on Wednesday as an increase in new coronavirus cases in some parts of the world cast doubts over the economic recovery while oil prices eased on oversupply fears.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were a tad lower after hitting a 4-1/2 month high just on Tuesday.

Chinese shares flickered between green and red. Australian shares were down 0.4% as were indexes for New Zealand and South Korea. was off 0.1% and Hong Kong’s was slightly firmer.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 added 0.18%.

Overnight, U.S. stocks fell, halting a five-day winning streak by the benchmark S&P 500 index, its longest this year and driven by better-than-expected economic data.

Following the recent rally, the declines looked like a consolidation, with the markets largely in “wait and see mode” ahead of the upcoming earnings session, said NAB economist Tapas Strickland.

Second-quarter earnings season will begin in earnest from next week.

“It will be important to watch the number of U.S. deaths in coming weeks and whether greater questions will be asked about the extent of necessary restrictions,” Strickland added.

California reported more than 10,000 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, a record rise for a single day that also surpassed the number of contact tracers recently trained by the state to detect and prevent potential outbreaks.

Coronavirus cases were also on the rise in the Australian state of Victoria, which led to lockdown measures being reimposed in Melbourne, the country’s second-biggest city.

“The second wave of infection will see Victorian economic activity fall sharply and it will continue to lag the rest of Australia,” said NAB economist Kaixin Owyong.

Victoria makes up around a quarter of Australian economic activity, she said.

Citi analysts predicted global equities would hang around current levels in twelve months’ time.

“We expect bullish and bearish forces to cancel each-other out,” they said in a note. “We would not chase markets higher from current levels, but would prefer to wait for the next dip.”

Citi has “overweight” positions on U.S. and Emerging Markets equities.

Most major currencies were trapped in a range.

The U.S. dollar was 0.15% higher on the Japanese yen at 107.65.

The risk sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars were a shade weaker at $0.6940 and $0.6544, respectively.

The euro was barely changed at $1.1273.

In commodities, gold hovered near a recent 8-1/2 year peak as investors preferred safe-haven assets. was last a shade weaker after two straight days of gains at 1,792.5 per ounce.

futures fell 8 cents, or 0.2%, to $43 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 6 cents, or 0.15%, to $40.56 a barrel.





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How is coronavirus changing us? 12 life lessons we are learning


A lot has changed in the last several weeks, and it likely won’t be going back to being completely normal soon. This time at home has taught us a lot, though. I think for many, we are learning life lessons and resetting our priorities.

We need to hang on to these essential life lessons even when we start moving forward and go back to whatever new normal awaits us. Think about it — much of how we lived our lives before this point included a ton of social media, a bunch of keeping up with the Jones’, and a sense of financial security and health invincibility because the stock market was doing well.

We as a society were traveling like crazy and doing all kinds of new things without getting sick; according to the World Tourism Organization, tourist arrivals across the globe were supposed to cross 1.5 billion by this year.

That has all come to a grinding halt. Mother Earth has made us a victim of her latest punishment. We as humans need to not only stay safe and sane during this time (and please do: work to relieve stress, and practice self-care, please), but we also need to take this wake-up call and learn from it. We CANNOT keep going as we were. It’s not sustainable.

So what life lessons am I referring to? I made a list. See if you agree, or if you’d have anything to add.

1. Prioritizing our relationships with family and friends

This is a must, and I don’t think we were doing this enough. Now we are forced to, and I’m sure some families are at each other’s last nerve. But I think we should take a minute and appreciate what we are being given: a chance to reconnect and understand each other. An opportunity to work on our interpersonal relationships, let go of past issues, forgive each other, make new memories and get creative with how we are spending our time together.

Life Lessons: I think this is an essential life lesson to take away. The people closest to you deserve your time and attention, and vice versa. Use this time to reforge these relationships so that you can carry them with you for the rest of ever. No more excuses for not having enough time to do so; we have enough technology at our fingertips to stay connected no matter what.

For those who feel they can’t reach out to family, remember that not every family is made of blood. So find your people, your loved ones, and use this time to strengthen the bonds you do have.

2. The importance of health and wellness

I hope everyone who once took their health and their access to medications for granted now realizes how lucky we’ve been thus far. I also hope everyone says, “OK, time to make health a priority.”

Until you are taking care of yourself, you will not be able to fight not just COVID but any illness.

Life lesson: Take steps now to redefine your view of fitness and health. I’m not saying you need to become a bodybuilder, but pay attention to your food and activity levels, and work on developing healthy habits and build a healthy lifestyle. Think of food like it’s medicine and use it to work for you and keep you fit (versus what a lot of people do with eating fast food and the like, and it makes them ill). Pay attention to your activity and movement.

Take care of yourself now so that your body and mind can fight for you later.

3. Decreasing pollution benefits us and the planet

Climate change is real (polar ice caps are melting, earth’s surface temperatures have increased, sea levels have risen, and the ocean is warmer). This is all due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. One of the good things to come from this situation is that it has put a halt on production and factories have shut down. Thus, air pollution levels are at an all-time low, and animals are coming out to play.

Life lesson: I think this is one of the most important lessons ever. The planet doesn’t need us; we need it. Let’s start respecting the ground we live on and take care of it because by doing so, we will extend our ability to live in it, and we’ll make life better for ourselves.

Read:That 100-degree day in the Arctic underscores how this region is now warming twice as fast as Earth

4. We really don’t need to spend as much as we usually do

How many people under normal circumstances would have online shopped and gone to the mall about five times now? I could probably fall into this category. Spending money is a wonderful stress reliever.

Life lesson: How much of our spending is actually necessary? I’ve saved a lot of money in the last month alone, mainly by not eating out and not buying things I don’t need. Funny thing, I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

Hopefully, this has shown us that we don’t need much to be happy, what we have is good enough, and we need to be thankful for it, the rest is just excess and look how easy it is to cut it out of our lives! Those items you thought you couldn’t live without? Guess what, you’re living without them now, and you’re surviving!

So let’s reconfigure how we treat our hard-earned dollars and go forward spending wisely and showing more respect for our money.

Read:How to save money in tough times: 6 do’s and don’ts

5. We need to have an emergency fund

While you’re creating that spending plan, take note of emergency funds. This is the longest rainy day/period ever. For anyone who couldn’t figure out why they needed an emergency fund before, I hope it all makes sense now.

Life lesson: You should have about 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses put away, and it should be untouched except for in an emergency. This might seem like a lot. However, the purpose is to give you a cushion if you lose your job or need some time to transition between jobs. Going forward, this is also your pandemic relief fund. Basically, it’s so that you don’t go into debt or have to sell you prized possessions to get by.

Read:‘I don’t want to be someone in need of cash’: How economic slumps inflicts permanent ‘scars’ on spending and saving

Also:Are you bankrolling your adult kids in a crisis?

6. Career backup plans are important

So many people are suffering pay cuts or losing their jobs during this time. Unemployment topped 13%! A common theme to address this that I’ve noticed is advocating for multiple income streams or starting a side hustle. While I think that’s a viable option, not everyone can do that. Their skill sets don’t allow them to, or they are already bogged down so much by their primary jobs, or there is some other reason.

Life Lesson: Yes, multiple sources of income are one way to cushion yourself in the future, but I think we should all also consider career backup plans going forward. This crisis has shown us that you never know what can happen; even health care is not a secure profession (many people in the front lines are taking pay cuts, as are subspecialty services that only do elective procedures or outpatient care). We all should have an idea of what else we could do with our skills; or what areas we’d be willing to learn so that if we’re forced to, we can pivot.

Times are changing, and more change is coming. We must adapt to these life-changing events and be prepared for any possibility.

Read:Midcareer? Your job is at risk — here’s what to do now

7. Social media exaggerates

How many are completely overwhelmed or frustrated by social media? There’s only so much any brain can take. Now we all have so much time on our hands, and I’m sure much of it is spent online. But, as I’m sure you are finding out, it actually makes this worse.

Life lesson: There’s a lot on social media that is exaggerated, falsified or taken out of context. I had to stop reading stories because of all of these reasons. I hope that everything you read online from here on out, you take with a large grain of salt.

Find trustworthy news outlets to understand the facts; trust the experts who are doing their best and working tirelessly to bring you updates; and most importantly, take a break from your phones. You don’t have to always be connected.

8. Our teachers are so, so important

How many parents are home schooling right now? How many think that poking their eyes out with a hot stick would be less painful?

Life lesson: Our teachers are some of the most essential people in our society. They really work hard and deserve so much more respect and money than they currently get. When schools reopen and we continue moving forward with life, let’s give our teachers a huge shout-out and advocate for their support.

9. We need to slow down

We live in a world that is “go go go.” We are constantly under pressure to be productive, to compete and be better than our peers or ourselves, and to never take breaks. While this has resulted in many of us having successful careers, as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t sustainable. We are burning out, we are getting tired, and we are hiding our depression. In essence, we have lost our work-life balance. We need to get it back and start living our best lives.

Life Lessons: Let’s slow down. We need to live one day at a time and pay attention to where we are at. I know this is much easier said than done, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan for the future. I just think that we need to do a better job of being present and being more mindful. We all know that life is short; let’s wake up from this and try to really enjoy life and make every moment count.

10. Mental health is important

What we’re going through right now, dealing with being confined, coping with boredom, going crazy in our homes, learning to cope with our fears, and struggling to keep our sanity…. some people fight this battle every day, every week, every year. To simplify it further, life is made up of all kinds of nonsensical stuff we have to deal with, and now it’s worse due to the pandemic.

Recent research is showing that over one-third of Americans are suffering from depression and anxiety — an increase from before the pandemic.

Life Lesson: Mental health is an integral part of our health and needs to be continuously addressed, just like our physical health is. It’s not taboo. It’s real, and it’s normal. I hope that this pandemic will bring to light the need to have regular mental-health checks and care.

11. Who we consider essential has changed

I’m sure our perspective has shifted in the last few weeks about who really matters for us to function as individuals and as a society.

Life Lesson: It’s not the online influencers that matter most or the makeup artists that you can’t live without. No, it’s our health-care workers — including everyone who works in a hospital — our minimum-wage workers and the labor force that does all the back-end work that we never notice, and our banks and grocery stores that provide us with the core essentials we can’t survive without.

Let’s all take a minute to recognize these people, be grateful that they exist, and that we have access to them. As we come out of this quarantine, let’s continue to show gratitude, compassion, and kindness for them and recognize their hard work. Let’s change our mindset and take care of them as they care for us. Let’s NOT take them for granted anymore.

12. We are all equal

Illness and natural disasters are great equalizers, and they also highlight the disparities in our society.

Life Lesson: Money, status, fame and looks have no bearing on what happens to you, nor does it protect you in any way. At the end of the day, we are all susceptible to the same human vices, illnesses and consequences.

We need to remember that we are all human.

In summary, the situation, hopefully, is helping you to reprioritize your time and your life purpose. I hope you can use this time to find yourself and realize what truly matters to you and allows you to live your best life.

Let’s carry these lessons with us as we move forward so that we, as a society, are better as a whole because of this experience. Let’s not make the same mistakes we have been making.

Sanjana Vig is a physician anesthesiologist who also has an MBA. She blogs at YouBeThree, with the aim to empower people to be the best version of themselves. This was first published on Your Money Geek, a website that aims to make personal finance fun.



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