Melbourne Retail, Manufacturing Shut to Contain Virus By Bloomberg


© Bloomberg. A pedestrian walks along the promenade in the South Bank precinct in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday, Jul 30, 2020. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Australia’s Victoria state will shut down large parts of its retail and manufacturing sectors for six weeks across the city of Melbourne after a lockdown failed to contain a spike in coronavirus cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday also announced that construction firms must radically reduce the number of workers on site across the city, while production at meatworks statewide will be cut by a third. Essential services such as banks, supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations will remain open, he said.

“This will have a very significant impact” on the economy, Andrews said. “But until we fix the health problem, until we get these case numbers down to a much, much lower level, we simply cannot open the economy up again. So there is significant damage that needs to be done.”

The outbreak in Australia’s second-most populous state shows no signs of abating, three weeks after Melbourne’s 5 million residents were ordered to stay home except for work, medical care, provisions or exercise. On Sunday, the government said the lockdown would be widened to cover the whole state, while Melbourne was placed under a six-week curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Andrews told reporters Monday the state recorded 429 new cases and 13 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

The tighter restrictions threaten to exacerbate Australia’s first recession in almost 30 years. Victoria contributes about one-quarter of gross domestic product, but is now isolated from the rest of the country as other states shutter their borders against the worrying spike in community transmission.

Deadly Australia Flareup Shows Limits of Locking Down Again

Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said earlier Monday the economy faces another significant hit from the extended lockdown and restrictions on workplaces.

“This is a massive kick in the guts to Victorian businesses,” Frydenberg told Sky News. Treasury had previously estimated a six-week Melbourne lockdown would cost the economy A$3.3 billion ($2.4 billion) in the September quarter.

Consumer discretionary stocks extended losses following the announcement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the restrictions were a “devastating blow” to Victorians and announced a new disaster payment of A$1,500 for people who have run out of sick leave and have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Addressing the media in Melbourne, Andrews said grocery and liquor stores, news agencies and post offices would also remain open and urged against panic buying. Retailers that have an on-line, click and collect facility could continue to operate, he said.

People working in administration in the city must also stay home under the restrictions. Warehousing and distribution centers in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds of the normal workforce.

Large scale public construction projects have already halved their workforce and commercial sites for buildings above three storeys must cap the number of employees at 25%. Only 5 people will be allowed at any one time on residential construction sites. The new measures mean an additional 250,000 workers will be forced to stay home.

Andrews said further announcements would be made in the next few days as consultation with industry groups continues.

Schools across the state will move to remote learning from Wednesday, while childcare centers in Melbourne will close to all but essential workers from Thursday.

Separately, New South Wales — the nation’s most populous state — recorded another 13 cases Monday. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was “strongly encouraging” residents to wear masks in certain situations, such as supermarkets and places of worship.

Winter Virus Surge Down Under Shows U.S., Europe What May Come

“I want to stress it’s not compulsory, but it is a strong recommendation,” Berejiklian told reporters. “I can’t stress enough how critical the next few weeks are,” adding she was taking extra measures due to the state’s geographical proximity to Victoria.

Australia’s first lockdown that lasted roughly from March to May was one of the most successful in the world, bringing down cases to just a handful a day nationwide. But security failures at quarantine hotels for returning travelers and poor communication of critical information to migrant communities allowed the virus to roar back in Victoria.

With those unable to work from home not willing to sacrifice wages, and people losing patience with physical isolation, many no longer seem willing to fully follow the rules as the economic and social costs mount.

(Corrects size of pandemic payment)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.





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Kenya Airways resumes international flights after virus curbs lifted By Reuters


5/5
© Reuters. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Nairobi

2/5

By George Obulutsa

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya Airways (NR:) resumed international flights on Saturday, heading to about 30 destinations for the first time since the routes were suspended in March due to the coronavirus.

The carrier, in which Air France KLM (PA:) holds a small stake, resumed domestic flights in mid-July after the government cleared local air travel.

“We announced we are starting with 27 destinations, we increased it to 30 just following demand,” Allan Kilavuka, the airline’s chief executive officer, said during a ceremony ahead of seeing off a flight to London.

He said for the rest of the year the airline expected demand to remain below 50% of capacity, but it would increase flight frequencies depending on demand.

“In fact 2020, we call it a lost year. Because at some point we even see demand of 25% in some months, in some months we see 38%,” he later told Reuters.

The COVID-19 pandemic has depressed the global aviation industry, with African carriers alone expected to lose $6 billion this year in revenue.

In July, Kenya Airways said it would lay off an unspecified number of number of workers, reduce its network and offload some assets due to the coronavirus crisis.

Kilavuka said so far the company had laid off some 650 people, mostly trainee pilots, trainee cabin crew, technician trainees and newly hired staff on probation.

“What I have to emphasise though is it’s not because we want to. Those employees have done nothing wrong. They are very good employees. It’s just that we cannot afford to keep them,” he said.

The airline was struggling long before the coronavirus outbreak, posting 2019 losses of almost 13 billion shillings ($120 million).

Last month the Nairobi Securities Exchange suspended trading of Kenya Airways shares for three months, citing the government’s plan to restructure the carrier, after it submitted to parliament a draft law on nationalising the airline.

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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Europe Lower; Travel Stocks Hit Hard by Virus Fears By Investing.com



By Peter Nurse 

Investing.com – European stock markets sold off Monday, with sharp losses in the travel sector amid fears of a second Covid-19 wave in Europe.

At 3:50 AM ET (0750 GMT), the in Germany traded 0.1% lower, the in France fell 0.5% and the U.K.’s index was down 0.5%. 

The decision by the United Kingdom over the weekend to quarantine visitors from popular holiday destination Spain due to rising coronavirus cases there has hit the travel sector hard.

Travel operator Tui (DE:) and easyJet (LON:) both fell over 13%, International Airlines Group (LON:) dropped nearly 10%, while Ryanair (LON:), which also reported a large loss for the second quarter, fell 8%.

Worries about a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe, and the damage this could cause not only to the Spanish tourist season, have overshadowed positive corporate news from China earlier Monday.

Earnings at China’s large industrial companies in June rose at the strongest pace since March last year, surging 11.5% from a year earlier in June, nearly doubling the 6.0% increase in May, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

China is a vital export market for many European companies, and signs of a recovery there will boost optimism about the way forward for the region’s corporate sector, which returned to growth in July according to preliminary PMIs released on Friday.

Elsewhere, the German Ifo index complemented last week’s upbeat PMI message, rising slightly more than expected in July. .

Elsewhere, SAP (DE:) stock rose 2.7% after the German software company increased its operating profit and revenue in the second quarter, extending a run of improved performance since ditching its co-CEO model last year. 

Royal KPN NV (AS:) dropped 3.3% despite net profit rising 6.3% in the second quarter, with the Dutch telecommunications company citing lower restructuring costs and the sale of unit KPN Consulting.

Oil prices were a little lower Monday, with futures trading 0.5% lower at $41.10 a barrel, while the international benchmark contract fell 0.5% to $43.58.

“Market participants appear to be nervous in taking a strong view either way on the market, with plenty of uncertainty still clouding the outlook when it comes to demand,” said analysts at ING, in a research note.

Elsewhere, rose 1.7% to $1,929.50/oz, not far off the record high of $1,937.60 per ounce hit earlier Monday, surpassing a peak touched in September 2011, while traded at 1.1698, up 0.4%.

 

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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Coronavirus update: U.S. counts more than 1,000 fatalities for a fourth straight day as virus spread accelerates in South and West


The coronavirus illness COVID-19 claimed another 1,100 lives in the U.S. in a single day to push the death toll above 145,000 on Saturday, marking a fourth straight day of more than a 1,000 U.S. fatalities, the first time that has happened since May when an average of 2,000 people died a day.

The U.S. has 4.13 million confirmed cases of the illness, accounting for about a quarter of the global tally of 15.7 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. More than 74,000 new cases were counted on Friday, one of the biggest single-day tallies since the start of the outbreak.

President Donald Trump canceled the planned Republican National Convention events that were due to take place in hot spot Florida next month, one of a series of reversals of policy this week. Trump also changed his view on wearing face masks, finally urging Americans to comply with a key recommendation of his own health experts, and acknowledged that the pandemic will get worse before it gets better.

The virus spread has accelerated through the summer, climbing to 4 million from 3 million in just 15 days, as the Washington Post reported. In the early days of the outbreak it took 45 days to increase from 1 million to 2 million cases, and then took 27 days to rise to 3 million.

Forty-two states and territories have seen rising cases in the last 14 days, according to a New York Times tracker, led by Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters at a briefing that his state is nearing breaking point after its case tally rose above 100,000.

States in the South and West continue to report rising rates of hospitalizations, taking the tally close to the peak hit on April 15, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project. There were 59,670 COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals on Friday, compared with the April record of 59,940.

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Task Force created to manage the pandemic, took a more somber tone than usual on Friday on NBC’s “Today Show.”

“I just want to make it clear to the American public: What we have now are essentially three New Yorks, with these three major states,” she said, referring to California, Florida and Texas. “And so we’re really having to respond as an American people, and that’s why you hear us calling for masks and increased social distancing to really stop the spread of this epidemic.”

The face mask issue continued to be a thorny issue with the American public with legal challenges against mandates extending to Oregon on Thursday, when conservative group Freedom Foundation filed a suit against Gov. Kate Brown.

“Governors in left-leaning states all over the country are making up the rules as they go – and ignoring the procedural rules their own state laws set up,” Jason Dudash, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon director, said in a statement on the group’s website.

Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over her face mask mandate. Several Georgia cities have also filed suits, while counties and districts in other states, including California, have also launched suits.

Public health experts have stressed that wearing face masks is key to containing the virus, along with frequent hand washing and social distancing. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, said at a recent news conference that if every American agreed to wear a mask, “over the next six weeks we could drive (the virus) into the ground.”

Read now:This is the biggest mistake people make while wearing a face mask

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania, an oncologist, bioethicist and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, reiterated his concern that the U.S. has squandered the last four months, “and it really is very, very depressing,” he said in an interview on MSNBC.

“We’re really right back in March,” he said.

Latest tallies

The global death tally from COVID-19 stands at 640,601, the Johns Hopkins data shows, and at least 9.1 million people have recovered.

Brazil is second to the U.S. with 2.3 million cases and 85,238 deaths. Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro, who has been criticized for his blasé approach to the pandemic, said Saturday that he has tested negative for COVID-19, just weeks after testing positive, the Guardian reported.

India is third measured by cases at 1.3 million, followed by Russia with 805,322 and South Africa with 421,996.

The U.K. has 299,503 cases and 45,762 fatalities, the highest in Europe and third highest in the world.

China, where the illness was first reported late last year, has 86,202 cases and 4,651 fatalities.

What’s the economy saying?

There was good news on the housing front Friday, when data showed sales of new single-family homes rose sharply in June for the second straight month, pushing the sales rate to its highest level in 13 years, as MarketWatch’s Greg Robb reported.

The annual sales pace for U.S. new-home sales rose 13.8% last month to 776,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. That’s above the prior cycle high of 774,000 hit in January and is the strongest since July 2007, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a June sales rate of 710,000, compared with an original May estimate of 676,000. On Friday, the government revised May’s rate to 682,000. That pushed the May rise in new home sales to 19.4%

“The impact of falling mortgage rates — down 80 basis points this year — is more than offsetting the wave of Covid-induced job losses, which seem to be hitting younger renters rather than would-be homebuyers; the median buyer is 47 years of age, while the median restaurant employee is 29,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

See: America is facing an eviction crisis as moratoriums expire: ‘This is a potential catastrophe

A separate report found the service sector lagging behind manufacturing, as some areas of the country have reimposed lockdown measures.

IHS Markit said its U.S. flash manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 51.3 in July from 49.8 in the previous month. The flash services purchasing managers index rose only to 49.6 from 47.9 in June.

Any reading above 50.0 indicates improving conditions, while readings below that measure indicate contraction. The flash estimate is typically based on approximately 85%–90% of total survey responses each month.

See:Baseball is back — here’s how U.S. sports leagues are returning during the pandemic

The U.S. economy is experiencing the first-ever recession driven by the services sector. And economists are concerned because some key service sectors like travel, restaurants, and entertainment are not expected to recover soon given the pandemic. Manufacturing is slowly getting on its feet but is still experiencing headwinds.

“The lack of growth is a disappointment,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

What are companies saying?

Three Dow Jones Industrial Average
US:DJIA
components reported earnings, starting late Thursday with chip giant Intel Corp., which disappointed with news of a delay in its next generation of semiconductor technology, MarketWatch’s Jon Swartz reported. Intel said it may actually use a third party to manufacture it as a contingency plan.

Intel
US:INTC
stock was slammed after it reported along with second-quarter earnings that the introduction of its 7-nanometer chips would be delayed by at least six months. AMD
US:AMD
is already selling 7-nm semiconductors for servers and PCs; in chip parlance, nanometers, or nm, is the size of the transistors that go on a computer chip, with the general rule being that smaller transistors are faster and more efficient in using power.

“We have identified a defect mode in our 7-nanometer process that resulted in yield degradation,” said Bob Swan, Intel’s chief executive, on a conference call late Thursday. “We’ve root-caused the issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty.”

See now: Intel admits another defeat with unprecedented manufacturing issues

There was better news from American Express Co.
US:AXP,
which posted a surprise profit for the second quarter, but revenue that lagged estimates amid a fall in card member spending during the pandemic.

Verizon Communications
US:VZ
beat on profit and revenue but its report showed negative impacts from the pandemic. The wireless operator estimates that both GAAP and adjusted EPS saw negative impacts of about 14 cents stemming from impacts to wireless service revenue and lower advertising and search revenue for Verizon’s media unit.

Elsewhere, there was a setback for Moderna Inc.
US:MRNA,
one of the many companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Arbutus Biopharma Corp.
US:ABUS
in a patent dispute between the companies, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported.

The decision may mean that Arbutus will attempt to make a royalty claim to products developed by Moderna’s lipid nanoparticle delivery technology, which is currently being used to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

SVB Leerink’s Mani Foroohar said the ruling is a “disappointing turn” for Moderna, and “any meaningful royalty burden could hamper MRNA’s pricing flexibility and margin profile vs. other players in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine market.”

What It Would Take to Reach Herd Immunity for the Coronavirus

Here’s the latest news on companies and COVID-19:

• Fans of the iPhone will probably have to wait at least another month before shiny new models are unveiled. Apple Inc.
US:AAPL
is delaying its annual fall event until the latter half of October instead of early September, according to a tech blog. The company was forced to push back the event for the 5G-compatible iPhone 12 line because of production delays caused by the pandemic, the Japanese Apple blog Mac Otakara reported. Apple is expected to announce four new iPhones, with the 5G models available in November.

• Boston Beer Co.
US:SAM,
maker of Sam Adams and other alcoholic beverages, reported an unexpected doubling of profit from the year before amid the pandemic. Chief Executive Dave Burwick credited “increases in our Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea brands and the addition of the Dogfish Head brands” for some of the demand gains. Boston Beer now expects full-year earnings of $11.70 to $12.70 a share, while analysts on average had forecast 2020 earnings of $9.84 a share.

• eHealth Inc.
US:EHTH,
an online health insurance marketplace, reported an adjusted quarterly profit and sales that came in above expectations. Revenue rose 35% to $88.8 million. The company said the number of new paying members for all its Medicare products rose 40% to 72,651 people. •

• ETrade Financial Corp.
US:ETFC
reported fiscal second-quarter results that slightly exceeded Wall Street estimates. The company also declared a quarterly cash dividend of 14 cents a share.

• Honeywell International Inc.
US:HON
reported second-quarter profit and sales that fell, but beat expectations. The company said it expects sales challenges resulting from the pandemic will continue, particularly in the aerospace and oil and gas businesses. Aerospace sales declined 28% to $2.54 billion, but topped the FactSet consensus of $2.41 billion; performance materials and technologies sales declined 19% to $2.22 billion but topped expectations of $2.19 billion; safety and productivity sales slipped 1% to $1.54 billion to beat expectations of $1.43 billion; and building technologies sales shed 19% to $1.18 billion, missing expectations of $1.24 billion.

• Toy maker Mattel Inc.
US:MAT
reported a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss and sales that were higher than Wall Street expected, thanks to sales in North America and total sales of Barbie and other dolls and games. Online sales “continued to grow strongly in all regions.” Gross sales in North America increased 3%, primarily on sales of Barbies as well as action figures, building sets, and games, the company said. Sales of its toy vehicles, including Hot Wheels, fell, the company said. Mattel said its supply chain continued to perform well despite temporary closures connected to the coronavirus pandemic. “Currently all of our factories are open with minimal disruption to operations, as we enter the peak production season,” it said. Liquidity is expected to be enough “to effectively manage through the COVID-19 disruption and to continue to execute our strategy,” the company said.

• McDonald’s Corp.
US:MCD
will require customers to wear a face covering in all of its restaurants starting August 1. About 82% of McDonald’s restaurants are in places where face covering mandates are already in place.

• Paramount Pictures will delay the release of two of its most anticipated movies, “Top Gun: Maverick,” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” to 2021 due to the pandemic. The “Quiet Place” sequel is now scheduled for April 23, 2021, and the “Top Gun” sequel is on tap for July 2, 2021. Paramount is a unit of ViacomCBS Inc.
US:VIAC

• ScanSource Inc.
US:SCSC,
a provider of barcode, networking, security and business communications services, provided an upbeat sales outlook, while also saying it will cut jobs as part of a expense-reduction plan. The company expects fiscal fourth-quarter net sales of $758 million, compared with the FactSet consensus for total revenue of $718 million. ScanSource announced a $30 million cost cutting plan, which will include a reduction of its North America workforce, salary reductions of 10% to 25% for its executive team, elimination of cash retainers for the board of directors for the rest of the year and cutting discretionary spending. The company is closing its Canpango professional services business, which it acquired in August 2018, which is expected to result in a $2 million charge.

• Schlumberger Ltd.
US:SLB
swung to a multibillion-dollar loss in the second quarter and revenue fell short of estimates, as the twin effects of the pandemic and falling oil price weighed. “This has probably been the most challenging quarter in past decades,” Chief Executive Olivier Le Peuch said, as he announced 21,000 job cuts. Revenue fell 28% from the first quarter, “caused by the unprecedented fall in North America activity, and international activity drop due to downward revisions to customer budgets accentuated by COVID-19 disruptions. This speaks volumes about an industry confronted with historic oil demand and supply imbalances caused by demand destruction from the global COVID-19 containment effort.” The company is reorganizing and combining its 17 product lines into four divisions, restructuring geographically around five key basins of activity and streamlining management, he said. Schlumberger expects to remove $1.5 billion of costs permanently. “Looking at the macro view in the near-term, oil demand is slowly starting to normalize and is expected to improve as government measures support consumption,” said the CEO. “However, subsequent waves of potential COVID-19 resurgence pose a negative risk to this outlook.”

• Skechers USA Inc.
US:SKX
reported a narrower-than-expected adjusted second-quarter loss and sales that were above expectations. “Skechers, like most businesses around the world, has never faced a more challenging time than during the pandemic, which caused the closing of nearly every market worldwide,” Chief Executive Robert Greenberg said. The company ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents around $1.6 billion, thanks in part to drawing down $490 million from its credit facility in the first quarter. The company did not provide an outlook.

• Office supply equipment retailer Staples will require face coverings in all its stores starting Monday. Staples is an essential retailer, selling hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as equipment for working and schooling from home. Staples joins retailers like Walmart Inc.
US:WMT
and Target Corp.
US:TGT
that will require customers to wear face coverings in stores.

See also: Christopher Nolan blockbuster ‘Tenet’ now delayed indefinitely due to coronavirus

• Tailored Brands, Inc.
US:TLRD
has received a notice of noncompliance from the New York Stock Exchange. The retailer behind Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank and other brands selling suits and other apparel is out of compliance with the NYSE’s continued listing criteria, which requires listed companies to maintain a 30-trading day average market capitalization of at least $50 million plus an average closing share price of at least $1 over a consecutive 30 trading-day period, among other benchmarks. The company has 18 months to regain compliance, and the notice does not affect its business operations, reporting requirements, and debt obligations.

• Walt Disney Co.’s
US:DIS
“Mulan” — scheduled for release Aug. 21, and expected to be a summer blockbuster — has been delayed indefinitely because of theater closures and production shutdowns caused by the pandemic. The live-action movie has been repeatedly delayed. Additionally, Disney delayed releases of Star Wars and Avatar movies by a year. “Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for ‘Mulan’ as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world,” a Walt Disney Studios spokesperson said in a statement.



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Coronavirus update: Global case tally tops 15.5 million and U.S. hits 4.05 million as virus spreads fast in Florida, California and Texas


The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 climbed above 15.5 million on Friday, and the U.S. case tally hit 4.05 million as the virus continued to spread in the South and West and more states reported that health care systems are steadily being overwhelmed.

President Donald Trump canceled the planned Republican National Convention events that were due to take place in hot spot Florida next month, after that state saw a record number of fatalities in a single day on Thursday at 173. The U.S. counted more than 1,000 deaths on Thursday, with more than 500 of them taking place in Florida, California and Texas. The U.S. death toll is now above 144,000, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University,

The U.S. added more than 69,900 cases on Thursday to push the total above 4 million, according to a New York Times tracker. The spread has accelerated through the summer, climbing to 4 million from 3 million in just 15 days, as the Washington Post reported. In the early days of the outbreak it took 45 days to increase from 1 million to 2 million cases, and then took 27 days to rise to 3 million.

Forty states have seen rising cases in the last 14 days, according to the Times tracker, led by Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters at a briefing that his state is nearing breaking point after its case tally rose above 100,000.

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Task Force created to manage the pandemic, took a more somber tone than usual on Friday on NBC’s “Today Show.”

“I just want to make it clear to the American public: What we have now are essentially three New Yorks, with these three major states,” she said. “And so we’re really having to respond as an American people, and that’s why you hear us calling for masks and increased social distancing to really stop the spread of this epidemic.”

The face mask issue continued to be a thorny issue with the American public with legal challenges against mandates extending to Oregon on Thursday, when conservative group Freedom Foundation filed a suit against Gov. Kate Brown.

“Governors in left-leaning states all over the country are making up the rules as they go – and ignoring the procedural rules their own state laws set up,” Jason Dudash, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon director, said in a statement on the group’s website.

Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over her face mask mandate. Several Georgia cities have also filed suits, while counties and districts in other states, including California, have also launched suits.

Public health experts have stressed that wearing face masks is key to containing the virus, along with frequent hand washing and social distancing. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, said at a recent news conference that if every American agreed to wear a mask, “over the next six weeks we could drive (the virus) into the ground.”

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania, an oncologist, bioethicist and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, reiterated his concern that the U.S. has squandered the last four months, “and it really is very, very depressing,” he said in an interview on MSNBC.

“We’re really right back in March,” he said.

Latest tallies

There are now 15.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, the Johns Hopkins data shows, and at least 634,405 people have died. At least 8.9 million people have recovered.

Brazil is second to the U.S. with 2.3 million cases and 84,082 deaths.

India is third measured by cases at 1.3 million, followed by Russia with 799,499 and South Africa with 408,052.

The U.K. has 298,731 cases and 45,639 fatalities, the highest in Europe and third highest in the world.

China, where the illness was first reported late last year, has 86,177 cases and 4,650 fatalities.

What’s the economy saying?

There was good news on the housing front Friday, when data showed sales of new single-family homes rose sharply in June for the second straight month, pushing the sales rate to its highest level in 13 years, as MarketWatch’s Greg Robb reported.

The annual sales pace for U.S. new-home sales rose 13.8% last month to 776,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. That’s above the prior cycle high of 774,000 hit in January and is the strongest since July 2007, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a June sales rate of 710,000, compared with an original May estimate of 676,000. On Friday, the government revised May’s rate to 682,000. That pushed the May rise in new home sales to 19.4%

“The impact of falling mortgage rates — down 80 basis points this year — is more than offsetting the wave of Covid-induced job losses, which seem to be hitting younger renters rather than would-be homebuyers; the median buyer is 47 years of age, while the median restaurant employee is 29,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

See: America is facing an eviction crisis as moratoriums expire: ‘This is a potential catastrophe

A separate report found the service sector lagging behind manufacturing, as some areas of the country have reimposed lockdown measures.

IHS Markit said its U.S. flash manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 51.3 in July from 49.8 in the previous month. The flash services purchasing managers index rose only to 49.6 from 47.9 in June.

Any reading above 50.0 indicates improving conditions, while readings below that measure indicate contraction. The flash estimate is typically based on approximately 85%–90% of total survey responses each month.

See:Baseball is back — here’s how U.S. sports leagues are returning during the pandemic

The U.S. economy is experiencing the first-ever recession driven by the services sector. And economists are concerned because some key service sectors like travel, restaurants, and entertainment are not expected to recover soon given the pandemic. Manufacturing is slowly getting on its feet but is still experiencing headwinds.

“The lack of growth is a disappointment,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

What are companies saying?

Three Dow Jones Industrial Average
US:DJIA
components reported earnings, starting late Thursday with chip giant Intel Corp., which disappointed with news of a delay in its next generation of semiconductor technology, MarketWatch’s Jon Swartz reported. Intel said it may actually use a third party to manufacture it as a contingency plan.

Intel
US:INTC
stock was slammed after it reported along with second-quarter earnings that the introduction of its 7-nanometer chips would be delayed by at least six months. AMD
US:AMD
is already selling 7-nm semiconductors for servers and PCs; in chip parlance, nanometers, or nm, is the size of the transistors that go on a computer chip, with the general rule being that smaller transistors are faster and more efficient in using power.

“We have identified a defect mode in our 7-nanometer process that resulted in yield degradation,” said Bob Swan, Intel’s chief executive, on a conference call late Thursday. “We’ve root-caused the issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty.”

See now: Intel admits another defeat with unprecedented manufacturing issues

There was better news from American Express Co.
US:AXP,
which posted a surprise profit for the second quarter, but revenue that lagged estimates amid a fall in card member spending during the pandemic.

Verizon Communications
US:VZ
beat on profit and revenue but its report showed negative impacts from the pandemic. The wireless operator estimates that both GAAP and adjusted EPS saw negative impacts of about 14 cents stemming from impacts to wireless service revenue and lower advertising and search revenue for Verizon’s media unit.

Elsewhere, there was a setback for Moderna Inc.
US:MRNA,
one of the many companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Arbutus Biopharma Corp.
US:ABUS
in a patent dispute between the companies, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported.

The decision may mean that Arbutus will attempt to make a royalty claim to products developed by Moderna’s lipid nanoparticle delivery technology, which is currently being used to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

SVB Leerink’s Mani Foroohar said the ruling is a “disappointing turn” for Moderna, and “any meaningful royalty burden could hamper MRNA’s pricing flexibility and margin profile vs. other players in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine market.”

What It Would Take to Reach Herd Immunity for the Coronavirus

Here’s the latest news on companies and COVID-19:

• Fans of the iPhone will probably have to wait at least another month before shiny new models are unveiled. Apple Inc.
US:AAPL
is delaying its annual fall event until the latter half of October instead of early September, according to a tech blog. The company was forced to push back the event for the 5G-compatible iPhone 12 line because of production delays caused by the pandemic, the Japanese Apple blog Mac Otakara reported. Apple is expected to announce four new iPhones, with the 5G models available in November.

• Boston Beer Co.
US:SAM,
maker of Sam Adams and other alcoholic beverages, reported an unexpected doubling of profit from the year before amid the pandemic. Chief Executive Dave Burwick credited “increases in our Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea brands and the addition of the Dogfish Head brands” for some of the demand gains. Boston Beer now expects full-year earnings of $11.70 to $12.70 a share, while analysts on average had forecast 2020 earnings of $9.84 a share.

• eHealth Inc.
US:EHTH,
an online health insurance marketplace, reported an adjusted quarterly profit and sales that came in above expectations. Revenue rose 35% to $88.8 million. The company said the number of new paying members for all its Medicare products rose 40% to 72,651 people. •

• ETrade Financial Corp.
US:ETFC
reported fiscal second-quarter results that slightly exceeded Wall Street estimates. The company also declared a quarterly cash dividend of 14 cents a share.

• Honeywell International Inc.
US:HON
reported second-quarter profit and sales that fell, but beat expectations. The company said it expects sales challenges resulting from the pandemic will continue, particularly in the aerospace and oil and gas businesses. Aerospace sales declined 28% to $2.54 billion, but topped the FactSet consensus of $2.41 billion; performance materials and technologies sales declined 19% to $2.22 billion but topped expectations of $2.19 billion; safety and productivity sales slipped 1% to $1.54 billion to beat expectations of $1.43 billion; and building technologies sales shed 19% to $1.18 billion, missing expectations of $1.24 billion.

• Toy maker Mattel Inc.
US:MAT
reported a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss and sales that were higher than Wall Street expected, thanks to sales in North America and total sales of Barbie and other dolls and games. Online sales “continued to grow strongly in all regions.” Gross sales in North America increased 3%, primarily on sales of Barbies as well as action figures, building sets, and games, the company said. Sales of its toy vehicles, including Hot Wheels, fell, the company said. Mattel said its supply chain continued to perform well despite temporary closures connected to the coronavirus pandemic. “Currently all of our factories are open with minimal disruption to operations, as we enter the peak production season,” it said. Liquidity is expected to be enough “to effectively manage through the COVID-19 disruption and to continue to execute our strategy,” the company said.

• Paramount Pictures will delay the release of two of its most anticipated movies, “Top Gun: Maverick,” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” to 2021 due to the pandemic. The “Quiet Place” sequel is now scheduled for April 23, 2021, and the “Top Gun” sequel is on tap for July 2, 2021. Paramount is a unit of ViacomCBS Inc.
US:VIAC

• ScanSource Inc.
US:SCSC,
a provider of barcode, networking, security and business communications services, provided an upbeat sales outlook, while also saying it will cut jobs as part of a expense-reduction plan. The company expects fiscal fourth-quarter net sales of $758 million, compared with the FactSet consensus for total revenue of $718 million. ScanSource announced a $30 million cost cutting plan, which will include a reduction of its North America workforce, salary reductions of 10% to 25% for its executive team, elimination of cash retainers for the board of directors for the rest of the year and cutting discretionary spending. The company is closing its Canpango professional services business, which it acquired in August 2018, which is expected to result in a $2 million charge.

• Schlumberger Ltd.
US:SLB
swung to a multibillion-dollar loss in the second quarter and revenue fell short of estimates, as the twin effects of the pandemic and falling oil price weighed. “This has probably been the most challenging quarter in past decades,” Chief Executive Olivier Le Peuch said, as he announced 21,000 job cuts. Revenue fell 28% from the first quarter, “caused by the unprecedented fall in North America activity, and international activity drop due to downward revisions to customer budgets accentuated by COVID-19 disruptions. This speaks volumes about an industry confronted with historic oil demand and supply imbalances caused by demand destruction from the global COVID-19 containment effort.” The company is reorganizing and combining its 17 product lines into four divisions, restructuring geographically around five key basins of activity and streamlining management, he said. Schlumberger expects to remove $1.5 billion of costs permanently. “Looking at the macro view in the near-term, oil demand is slowly starting to normalize and is expected to improve as government measures support consumption,” said the CEO. “However, subsequent waves of potential COVID-19 resurgence pose a negative risk to this outlook.”

• Skechers USA Inc.
US:SKX
reported a narrower-than-expected adjusted second-quarter loss and sales that were above expectations. “Skechers, like most businesses around the world, has never faced a more challenging time than during the pandemic, which caused the closing of nearly every market worldwide,” Chief Executive Robert Greenberg said. The company ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents around $1.6 billion, thanks in part to drawing down $490 million from its credit facility in the first quarter. The company did not provide an outlook.

• Office supply equipment retailer Staples became the latest to require face coverings in all its stores starting Monday. Staples is an essential retailer, selling hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as equipment for working and schooling from home. Staples joins retailers like Walmart Inc.
US:WMT
and Target Corp.
US:TGT
that will require customers to wear face coverings in stores.

See also: Christopher Nolan blockbuster ‘Tenet’ now delayed indefinitely due to coronavirus

• Walt Disney Co.’s
US:DIS
“Mulan” — scheduled for release Aug. 21, and expected to be a summer blockbuster — has been delayed indefinitely because of theater closures and production shutdowns caused by the pandemic. The live-action movie has been repeatedly delayed. Additionally, Disney delayed releases of Star Wars and Avatar movies by a year. “Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for ‘Mulan’ as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world,” a Walt Disney Studios spokesperson said in a statement.



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