Coronavirus update: 1.29 million cases worldwide, 70,798 deaths, and signs that rate of infection is slowing in Europe


Signs that the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is slowing in parts of Europe cheered financial markets on Monday, although it weighed against news that Japan is about to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and other areas.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the move could come as soon as Tuesday, but will not include the kind of lockdowns that health experts say are the most effective in containing the illness. Abe also told reporters that his government will launch a 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) stimulus package to help counter the economic impact of the pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

Japan has 3,654 cases of the virus and 85 fatalities, according to data aggregated by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. That places it far lower down the list than countries in mainland Europe and the U.S., which continues to lead in number of cases.

There was good news from Spain and Italy, the two European hot spots for the disease, with the growth rate and number of fatalities slowing over the weekend. The Spanish government said the number of deaths from the virus has fallen for four straight days, and totaled 637 in the past 24 hours, the lowest in almost two weeks. Italy reported 525 new deaths on Sunday, its lowest daily rate in two weeks. Germany and France also reported a slowing of their death tolls.

There are now 1.29 million cases of COVID-19 globally and at least 70,798 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins data. Another 272,013 people have recovered.

Read now:The CDC now says all Americans should wear masks — here’s a simple DIY approach

The U.S. case tally stands at 338,995 with 9,684 fatalities. Another 17,727 people have recovered. New York remains the epicenter with a total of 130,689 cases and at least 4,758 deaths. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the death tally has been flat for two days, a hopeful sign that the curve is flattening, as health experts agree needs to happen to contain the disease and ease the burden on health-care workers and hospitals.

Read:New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo raises penalty for not complying with social distance rules to $1,000

Spain has 135,032 cases and 13,169 deaths. That puts it ahead of Italy in number of cases but Italy’s death toll leads the world. Italy had 128,948 cases as of Sunday and at least 15,887 deaths.

Germany has 100,770 cases, but just 1,608 deaths. France has 93,780 cases and 8,093 deaths. China, where the outbreak was first reported late last year, has 82,665 cases and 3,335 deaths.

President Donald Trump again promoted the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for the virus, even though experts have cautioned that it has not been tested or won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Trump said the U.S. government has stockpiled 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills. He blocked infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci from answering a question about the drug at a Sunday briefing. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly said it’s too soon to say if the drug would be effective.

As MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee has reported, the drug is in the early stages of testing in China, France and the U.S. as a treatment for COVID-19. Pharmacists are concerned that prescribing the drug for the virus has created shortages of the medication for patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, two indications for which it has been approved.

There are also safety concerns. The Banner Health hospital system, based in Phoenix, said on March 23 that a man in his 60s had died and his wife, also in her 60s, was in critical care after the couple consumed a form of chloroquine phosphate used to clean fish tanks. The drug also has a number of adverse effects, like nausea and changes in mood, and can cause drops in blood sugar. Incorrect doses can cause coma, seizures and death.

See:94% of Americans say they are staying away from large groups, up from 68% in mid-March

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
US:JPM
Chief Executive Jamie Dimon weighed in on the crisis Monday, saying the U.S. wasn’t adequately prepared for a pandemic and urging Americans to roll up their sleeves and work on solving the problems facing the health care system, education, immigration policy and a host of other shortcomings.

“There should have been a pandemic playbook,” he wrote in his annual letter to shareholders Likewise, he added, every problem “should have detailed and nonpartisan solutions.”

Read:St. Louis Fed’s Bullard pitches universal daily COVID-19 testing to help restore economy’s health

Companies continued to announce store and office closures, pay cuts, the furloughing of workers and tapping of credit lines. In medical news, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.
US:INO
said it’s planning the first dosing of patients in a Phase 1 trial of its DNA vaccine candidate to treat COVID-19 on Monday.

The vaccine, named INO-4800, has shown promising response in preclinical animal studies. The trial will involve up to 40 healthy volunteers at two trial locations in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Each participant will receive two doses four weeks apart, with data expected by late summer. The trial is being funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an Oslo-based international organization.

Read now:These 19 companies are working on coronavirus treatments or vaccines — here’s where things stand

GlaxoSmithKline
US:GSK
said it’s making an equity investment in Vir Biotechnology
US:VIR
as part of a collaboration to research and develop solutions for coronaviruses. The companies say they will use Vir’s proprietary monoclonal antibody platform technology to accelerate existing and identify new anti-viral antibodies, use Glaxo’s expertise in functional genomics and combine their capabilities in CRISPR screening and artificial intelligence.

Here’s what companies have said about COVID-19 on Monday:

• Allstate Corp.
US:ALL
will pay out more than $600 million to auto insurance customers over the next two months as part of a Shelter-in-Place Payback plan, given the unprecedented decline in driving amid the pandemic. Most customers will receive 15% of their monthly premium in April in May, paid as a credit to their bank account, credit card or Allstate account. “This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents,” Allstate Chief Executive Tom Wilson said. The insurer is also allowing customers facing financial challenges the choice to delay two consecutive premium payments without penalty and will offer its identity protection product free for the rest of the year.

• Capri Holdings Ltd.
US:CPRI
will furlough all 7,000 of its North American retail store workers, effective April 11. Workers had been receiving pay since stores closed on March 18, with stores originally planned for reopening on April 10. The company, whose portfolio includes Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, says stores in North America and Europe will remain closed until June 1, or until it’s safe to resume operations. Capri has cut pay for executives and others, suspended share buybacks, reduced capital expenditures and taken other cost-saving measures. The company has drawn down the entirety of its $300 million revolving credit facility, and has $900 million in total cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet.

• Henry Schein Inc.
US:HSIC
is withdrawing financial guidance provided in February, and temporarily cutting salaries of its senior executives, with Chief Executive Stanley Bergman agreeing to a 100% reduction in his base salary from April 6 through June 30. The chief financial officer and the other three most highly paid executives will have salaries reduced by 50%, while management at the director level through senior vice president will have salaries reduced from 10% to 25%. The company is also suspending its share repurchase program.

• Kimco Realty Corp.’s
US:KIM
Chief Executive Conor Flynn has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The real-estate investment trust, which operates open-air shipping centers, said Flynn was tested after showing mild symptoms.

• 3M Co.
US:MMM
said media reports alleging a shipment of its N95 respirators was seized and diverted by U.S. authorities on Friday were “inaccurate,” and that it has no knowledge of such a seizure. “3M has no record of any order of respirators from China for the Berlin police. We cannot speculate where this report originated.” The Financial Times reported that the U.S. seized masks bound for Berlin, and that a German official had denounced the seizure as modern piracy.

• RH, the home furniture chain formerly known as Restoration Hardware
US:RH,
will temporarily furlough 2,300 employees and permanently cut 440 jobs, given uncertainties regarding when stores will reopen. The executive leadership team will forgo 100% of their salaries until business stabilizes, while those with SVP and chief titles will have salaries reduced by 40%, and salaried employees will face cuts of 10%. RH will reduce fiscal 2020 capital expenditures by $130 million and cut expenses by $150 million.

• Slack Technologies Inc.
US:WORK
plans to sell $600 million worth of convertible senior notes, due 2025. The notes will be convertible to cash, shares of common stock, or a combination of both, at the option of the holder.

• The Container Store Group Inc.
US:TCS
is closing all remaining stores that weren’t already closed by state and local orders. Coppell, Tx-based retailer said it will switch to click & pick curbside pickup and in-store appointments only, with just one customer at a time to be allowed into a store in select locations where it is allowed and employees want to work. The company has furloughed its store workers.

• Wayfair Inc.’s
US:W
business has skyrocketed amid the pandemic. Wayfair went into March with gross revenue up just below 20%, consistent with January and February. However, business more than doubled toward the end of March with the run-rate maintained in early April. Office staff are working from home, while fulfillment, transportation and logistics facilities are fully operational Wayfair is offering 535 million of senior convertible notes and is postponing its annual shopping day, Way Day, in favor of a promotional event with a charitable component.

• Workday Inc.
US:WDAY
has tapped a term-loan facility of $750 million and a revolver of $750 million. The company had an outstanding term loan of $500 million as of April 2, according to a regulatory filing.

Coronavirus Update: ‘Hard Days’ Ahead and Global Deal-Making in Chaos



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American joins United, others in suspending more NYC flights on coronavirus spike By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: American Airlines planes are parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington

By Tracy Rucinski

(Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc (O:) said late Sunday it would suspend more flights in and out of New York City’s three main airports for about a month, joining other airlines that have cut flights to the area following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Between April 9 and May 6, American will operate a total of 13 daily flights from New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports and New Jersey’s Newark, it said, down from an average of 271 daily flights across all three airports in April 2019.

David Seymour, American’s senior vice president of Operations, told employees that demand for flights to the New York area “is rapidly evaporating” following an increase in COVID-19 cases and a recent advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning against all non-essential travel to and from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

New York has been the hardest-hit U.S. state by the coronavirus pandemic.

United Airlines Holdings Inc (O:) said on Saturday that it was reducing its daily New York City area flights to 17 from 157, while JetBlue Airways Corp (O:) is cutting its schedule by as much as 80% and Spirit Airlines Inc (N:) is canceling all of its flights to the area.

U.S. carriers have drastically reduced their flying schedules around the world as air travel demand has plummeted due to the coronavirus, but the reductions to New York – one of the business capitals of the world – underscore the depth of the health and financial crises.

American said it will only operate flights between 10 a.m. ET and 6 p.m. ET as turn-only operations so that no aircraft or crews remain overnight at the airports, and so that fewer New York crew will be required on the ground.

Facing what they call an unprecedented crisis, airlines around the world are seeking government aid to help them avoid employee layoffs with the hope that travel demand will eventually recover.

In the United States, top Democrats in Congress on Sunday urged the U.S. Treasury to move quickly to award $32 billion in cash assistance to airlines and airport contractors without setting onerous requirements that could lead to bankruptcies.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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European stock index futures jump as coronavirus death toll slows By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

(Reuters) – European stock index futures jumped more than 4% on Monday as a slowdown in coronavirus death toll in France and Italy raised hopes that lockdown measures were starting to show results.

Euro Stoxx 50 futures () were up 4.1% at 0600 GMT, with German DAX futures () and French futures () gaining 4.5% and 4%, respectively.

Italy reported its lowest daily COVID-19 death toll for more than two weeks on Sunday, while France’s daily death toll from the novel coronavirus dropped and admissions into intensive care slowed.

The benchmark STOXX 600 index () ended Friday with the sixth weekly decline in seven as dismal business activity data for March foreshadowed a deep economic and earnings recession due to the outbreak.

Gains for FTSE 100 futures () were kept in check by reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was still in hospital on Monday suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Wall Street star money manager says S&P 500 could plunge to 1,500 in worst case, with coronavirus fallout lingering for years



‘When the markets start to see some of the data on unemployment rising and economic growth and corporate earnings contracting, there will be another level of panic in the market.’


— Scott Minerd

Scott Minerd is looking for opportunities to dip his toes into the coronavirus-stricken stock market. However, you may not find him wading into equities anytime soon if the outlook for the economy is as grim as he is forecasting.

The global chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners, in a Sunday research report, estimated that the worst may be far from over for the S&P 500 and the broader market, which is attempting to face a harsh new reality framed by a global economic slowdown created by the outbreak of COVID-19.

As of Friday’s close, the S&P 500
SPX,
-1.51%

was at 2,488.65, down 26.5% from its Feb. 18 record closing high. However, Minerd estimated that the index could justifiably fall to 1,500 over time if the realization of woeful corporate earnings and the economic devastation of the pathogen sets in. A drop of that magnitude would represent a worst-case scenario, based on Guggenheim’s models.

Minerd explained it this way:

But one thing I would caution is that if earnings continue to fall as I expect them to, S&P earnings could get as low as $100 this year. Given the traditional market multiple of about 15 times earnings, that would put the S&P at about 1,500, still about a thousand points lower than we are today. Certainly, we are down from the recent peak of 3,386, so we’ve made a big move, but we still have a pretty good move to make. Investors should probably focus their activity on bonds at this point.

With that in mind, the CIO said battered airline names and hospitality shares could be eminently risky bets now because some of those businesses will never return to their pre-outbreak levels, if they return at all.

Airline companies, including Delta Air Lines
DAL,
-0.88%
,
United Airlines-parent United Airlines Holdings
UAL,
-2.28%

and American Airlines Group Inc.
AAL,
-6.66%

have been bludgeoned and are down by at least 60% year to date, as travel has been severely hit by efforts to contain the pandemic.

Minerd said his outlook has darkened considerably further on the economy because the data has been worse than he had estimated.

Indeed, the Labor Department report on Friday showed that a stunning 701,000 workers lost their jobs last month, representing the worst monthly labor-market reading in 11 years and far exceeding estimates for around 83,000. All three stock indexes on Friday finished lower, including the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-1.68%

and the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-1.52%
.

That data came a day after a separate report showed a record 6.6 million Americans applying for unemployment benefits, bringing the increase in new jobless claims in the past two weeks of March to about 10 million.

More broadly, the Guggenheim investor said he’s anticipating that gross domestic product for the U.S. will contract well over 10%.

“Probably the most surprising thing to me at this point is how well the markets are holding up,” Minerd said. “Given the economic data, and given the fact that large portions of the capital markets are still virtually closed for business, I would have expected stock prices to be lower at this point,” he said.

By some measures, it may take the economy four years to return to normalcy. If there is a silver lining, that will leave interest rates at rock-bottom levels for the much of the coming decade.

Against that backdrop, Minerd said he’s looking at investment-grade corporate and municipal bonds, as well as select securities in structured credit and high-yield, “where prices have dropped.” He advised that investors for now focus on high-quality investments in fixed income.

“ As this situation continues to play out, we will slowly increase our risk tolerance and watch for more buying opportunities,” he wrote.

“It’s time to start nibbling, not gorging on these values,” he said.

Check out: MarketWatch’s snapshot of the market



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Bill Gates shares his optimistic take on the coronavirus on Fox News



‘If we do the social distancing properly, we should be able to get out of this with the death numbers well short of that.’

That’s Microsoft
MSFT,
-0.92%

co-founder Bill Gates referring to the projections that the U.S. could ultimately see between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we had kept on going to work, traveling like we were, that curve would never bend until you’d had the majority of people infected,” Gates said Sunday in a Fox News interview, adding that, while this is a “nightmare scenario,” social distancing should cause infections to level off by the end of April.

“It’s very important that those numbers are out there because a lot of people are still thinking, ‘Hey, isn’t life normal,’ not waking up every day to a completely new reality,” he added, praising Dr. Anthony Fauci for “doing a very good job of saying, ‘The numbers are what count here.’”

See:Fauci urges nationwide stay-at-home order: ‘I don’t understand why that’s not happening’

As for a second wave, Gates said, yes, an arrested coronavirus pandemic could very well come back in the fall, but by then we will be better prepared for treatments and a vaccine won’t be too far behind.

“Some jobs will resume, school will partially resume, but we’ll have to be very, very careful not to have the rebound until the vaccine comes,” he added.

Here’s a clip from the interview:

Last week, Gates, in a Washington Post op-ed, urged the government to enforce a nationwide shutdown, warning that the fact that some states aren’t taking that action is problematic.

“Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely,” he said. “In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus.”

There are now 1.22 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and 65,884 deaths worldwide, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. continues to show the highest number of cases at 312,249, with 8,503 fatalities. New York state remains the pandemic’s epicenter in the U.S.



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