Live Stock Market Tracker and Economy Updates

Wall Street shows signs of life after a deep plunge.

U.S. stocks are set to jump on Friday following a recovery by global markets a day after a sharp plunge on Wall Street brought a weekslong rally to a crushing end.

Futures markets were predicting that Wall Street would rise about 1.5 percent at the open of trading. European markets were 1 to 2 percent higher. That followed a slump in most Asia-Pacific markets that was not quite as severe as the U.S. plunge on Thursday.

Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds, often seen as a safe haven by investors, were lower. Oil futures rebounded after a sharp fall the day before.

Stocks in the United States took a sharp tumble on Thursday, with the S&P 500 index falling nearly 6 percent. The drop was a sudden reversal of weeks of bullish investor sentiment despite the major disruptions to the global economy caused by the coronavirus, as well as other worries like protests in American cities and worsening relations between the United States and China.

Investors instead had looked at signs of recovery in some of the hardest-hit places and the huge amounts of money governments had freed up to help recovery efforts. By Monday, the S&P 500 had climbed about 45 percent from its lows in late March and recouped all of its losses for the year.

But on Thursday, investors grew alarmed at a slew of negative economic forecasts and signs that the coronavirus remains a threat to parts of the United States, even as New York and other places hit earlier begin to recover.

Britain’s economic output fell by one-fifth in April, a record amount.

The British economy collapsed by 20.3 percent in April compared with the month before, a record contraction that indicated devastation in many parts of the economy.

The data reflects the first full month of Britain’s lockdown to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and is likely to increase pressure to relax those rules more quickly.

Manufacturing fell by 24.3 percent, led by a 90 percent fall in the sector that includes motor vehicles, according to the Office of National Statistics.

In March, British economic output contracted by 5.8 percent.

The drop in April’s G.D.P. was the biggest Britain had ever seen and nearly 10 times worse than the steepest pre-coronavirus fall, said Jonathan Athow, the government’s deputy national statistician.

“Virtually all areas of the economy were hit, with pubs, education, health and car sales all giving the biggest contributions to this historic fall,” he said in a news release.

Earlier this week the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projected that the British economy would contract by 12.5 percent in 2020, worsening to 14 percent if there were a second wave of infections.

Hertz is bankrupt — and selling stock.

Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection last month. But as investors improbably piled into its shares this week, the car rental pioneer is trying to take advantage, today’s DealBook newsletter notes.

The company — which, remember, is in bankruptcy protection — wants to sell up to $1 billion in new stock. “The recent market prices of and the trading volumes in Hertz’s common stock potentially present a unique opportunity,” lawyers for the company said in a bankruptcy court hearing yesterday. Even after falling yesterday, the company’s shares are still well above the level they traded at after its Chapter 11 filing.

The move is exceedingly rare for a bankrupt company, since most bankruptcy restructurings result in stockholders — who are last in line to recover financial assets — being wiped out. There are also precedents for investors coming out ahead. The hedge fund mogul Bill Ackman made a fortune from owning stock in the bankrupt real-estate business General Growth Properties nearly a decade ago.

But in a sign of Hertz’s dire financial straits, the company has asked for permission to end leases for more than 144,000 vehicles that it says it can no longer afford.

Twitter said on Thursday that China has stepped up its effort to spread misinformation on the platform by creating tens of thousands of fake accounts that discussed the Communist Party’s response to the virus and the Hong Kong protests.

Twitter said it had discovered and removed 23,750 accounts that were “highly engaged” in a coordinated effort to spread misinformation, and 150,000 others that were dedicated to amplifying China’s messages through likes and retweets. Those findings are consistent with a recent New York Times analysis that detected hundreds of similar accounts.

The Trump administration has sparred with Beijing over the pandemic, saying that China mishandled the outbreak, which is believed to have started in the city of Wuhan. Chinese officials on Twitter have fought back, suggesting without evidence that the virus originated in the United States.

Twitter announced its finding on the same day that Zoom, a video-chat app that rose to fame during the outbreak, acknowledged that it had briefly blocked the account of a U.S.-based Chinese human-rights leader at the Chinese government’s request. The activist, Zhou Fengsuo, had used the platform to organize a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown between activists in the United States and China.

Zoom restored Mr. Zhou’s account on Wednesday, but the suspension highlights the California company’s delicate balancing act between free-speech principles and the power of China’s huge censorship machine.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that he was “very seriously considering” backing another round of economic stimulus payments to Americans as part of another relief package.

The Trump administration is considering a range of measures to inject more money into the economy, which is facing its deepest downturn since the Great Depression as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion pandemic relief bill last month, but Senate Republicans and the White House have dismissed that as dead on arrival.

Negotiations between the White House and lawmakers are expected to get underway next month. Mr. Mnuchin has said he would prefer additional stimulus to focus on specific industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, but direct payments to individuals would have the benefit of raising consumer spending more broadly.

“It’s a very efficient way for us to deliver money into the economy,” Mr. Mnuchin said in a briefing with reporters on Thursday, noting that for people who still have jobs, the money is akin to a tax cut.

Mr. Mnuchin said he remained optimistic that the economy would rebound during the second half of the year and he played down gloomy projections from the Federal Reserve this week that predicted that the unemployment rate could be close to 10 percent at the end of the year. The Treasury secretary said that traditional economic models are poorly equipped to predict the impact of a pandemic.

The Treasury secretary said he believed that it was unlikely that the economy would be shut down again if there was a second wave of the virus, but he acknowledged that there was more work to be done to get businesses back on track. He pointed to the need for additional incentives such as tax credits to get firms to hire workers and tax deductions that would entice workers to eat out at restaurants.

“High unemployment is unacceptable,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “We have more work to do.”

In Europe, ‘corona cycleways’ are becoming the new post-confinement commute.

As France eased its coronavirus lockdowns last month, a small army of street workers fanned out across Paris in the dark of night. They dropped traffic barriers along car lanes and painted yellow bicycle symbols onto the asphalt. By morning, miles of pop-up “corona cycleways” had been laid, teeming with people heading back to work.

As European cities emerge from quarantines, bicycles are playing a central role in getting the work force moving again. Governments are trying to revive their economies from a deep recession, but cannot fully rely on public transportation to get workers to their jobs because of the need for social distancing. In urban areas at least, bicycles are suddenly an unlikely component to restarting economic growth.

In Europe, where many cities have integrated cycling as a mode of transportation, the pandemic is speeding up an ecological transition to limit car traffic and cut pollution, especially as new research draws links between dirty air and coronavirus death rates.

Britain, France, Italy and their neighbors are accelerating hundreds of millions of euros in investments on new biking infrastructure and schemes to get people pedaling.

“This crisis has made clear that we need to change the way we live, work and move,” said Morten Kabell, chief executive of the European Cyclists’ Federation. “In the era of social distancing, people are wary of using public transportation, and cities can’t take more cars. So they are looking to the bike as a natural mode of mobility for the future.”

Three of the largest airlines operating from Britain have filed a legal challenge to the 14-day quarantine imposed by the British government on Monday on many travelers arriving in the country. According to a statement, British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair want a “judicial review” of the measures, which are intended to reduce importation of the coronavirus into Britain, as soon as possible.

The airlines said that the quarantine, which carries heavy fines for those who break the rules, would “have a devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy and destroy thousands of jobs.” The airlines also said that the government had provided no scientific evidence that such a severe policy was warranted.

As in many countries, Britain’s lockdown has severely curtailed air travel, putting huge financial pressure on airlines, some of which have estimated that air travel won’t return to previous levels for two to three years. The quarantine has been imposed as the government is beginning to ease other parts of the lockdown, including rules on which shops can open.

The government has argued that as the virus comes under control, a quarantine will help stem imported cases.

Airline executives have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the British government. Ryanair’s chief, Michael O’Leary, rejected the government’s recommendations that passengers check as much baggage as possible to help prevent transmission of the virus.

In an interview with the news outlet The Independent, Mr. O’Leary termed the advice “more rubbish,” and said it was much safer for passengers to keep their bags rather than turn them over to baggage handlers.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • Lululemon, the premium athleisure brand, said on Thursday that its sales in the first quarter fell 17 percent to $652 million, showing that not even makers of comfortable, stretchy clothing have been spared during the pandemic. The company said that as of June 10, 295 of its 489 stores had reopened, and that e-commerce sales made up more than half of its first quarter revenue, compared with 27 percent in the same period last year. Still, unlike most other retailers, it managed to post a profit of $28.6 million.

  • Boeing has asked a major supplier of parts for its troubled 737 Max jet to stop work on four Max fuselages and not to start work on 16 more, which were planned for delivery this year, according to the supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. Based on that request and further correspondence with Boeing, Spirit said it expected to cut back work it had planned on 125 of the jets and would furlough some employees on the project for three weeks starting Monday.

Reporting was contributed by Stanley Reed, Mohammed Hadi, Michael J. de la Merced, Alan Rappeport, Kevin Granville, Sapna Maheshwari, Liz Alderman, Kate Conger, Paul Mozur, Carlos Tejada, Michael Ives and Niraj Chokshi.


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