Italy will extend its drastic containment measures until the middle of April as the government weighs doubling or even tripling the amount of financial stimulus for the country’s paralyzed economy.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is set to prolong a near-total lockdown for two weeks beyond the current April 3 deadline, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. Some minimal exceptions are being discussed for companies, the newspaper writes, adding that the return to normalcy will in any case happen only gradually. Education minister Lucia Azzolina has already said schools won’t reopen early next month as initially planned.
Italy is wrestling with the world’s deadliest outbreak even as the contagion shows initial signs of a slowdown after three weeks in which economic activity halted almost completely. The government is preparing a second round of stimulus after a 25 billion-euro ($28 billion) package approved this month, even as it’s locked in negotiations with European partners on further joint financial support.
Conte said in an interview published Saturday by Il Sole 24 Ore that new measures to be approved next month will bring Italy’s overall stimulus “well above the threshold of 50 billion euros.”
The prime minister had previously said the April package would be worth something more than 25 billion euros, but the amount — to be financed completely with the issuance of new debt — is set to be higher as the size of the recession becomes clearer. Confidence among Italian businesses crashed this month across all sectors, with Italy’s gross domestic product heading for a contraction of 6.5 percentage points in 2020, according to research group Prometeia. Electricity consumption continues to fall along with economic activity.
Deputy Finance Minister Laura Castelli said in an interview with La Stampa that Italy’s overall financial commitment could rise to as much as 100 billion euros, still well short of the 300 billion euros and 750 billion euros mobilized by France and Germany, respectively. The government’s April measures could be worth as much as 50 billion euros, double the size of the first round of stimulus, according to Il Messaggero.
Meanwhile, signs of social unrest and economic distress are on the rise in Italy’s poor southern regions.
A Lidl supermarket in Palermo, Sicily, was raided by people who refused to pay for their shopping, according to reports on several media. The police are now patrolling entrances to the city’s largest supermarkets.
Coronavirus stimulus checks to be sent 3 weeks from today
FOX Business’ Edward Lawrence gives a timeline of when Americans will start receiving money now that the House has passed the coronavirus spending bill.
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the CARES Act—a legislative package intended to soften the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak. The legislation is particularly beneficial to small businesses, which are in dire need of a lifeline amid the pandemic. President Trump is expected to sign the bill imminently.
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As consumers take precautions to protect themselves and governments impose restrictions to limit the spread of the virus, Main Street small businesses and their employees are among the hardest hit financially. These businesses typically operate on razor-thin budgets; revenue from the previous day often covers the following day’s overhead and payroll. Even a couple of days of disruption can spur financial challenges. Several weeks or months is another obstacle to clear entirely.
GOOGLE PROMISES $800M IN CORONAVIRUS AID TO SMALL BUSINESSES, OTHER GROUPS
Considering small businesses are the backbone of the economy and employ nearly half the country’s workforce, targeted, short term relief provided by Congress is welcomed.
A number of provisions in the CARES Act aim to help struggling businesses and their employees who are laid off out of necessity. But perhaps the most helpful is the $349 billion in forgivable small business loans. The funds—coordinated by the Small Businesses Administration, but distributed through private banks—will give entrepreneurs much needed cash to keep payroll flowing, as well as cover rent, utilities and other overhead.
Most importantly, it will keep small businesses primed to reopen fully once the public health crisis subsides. Getting the economy moving at full-steam-ahead quickly will be critical in order to repel a lasting economic downturn. It’s not a bailout, but a strategy to extend the strong economy previously enjoyed by Americans to the post-coronavirus era.
GOOGLE EXTENDS TEMPS’ CONTRACTS DURING CORONAVIRUS UNCERTAINTY
Passing the CARES Act is a good first step and entrepreneurs are thankful. But now we need to keep the ball rolling in order to fully shore-up our country’s small business community.
One suggestion is to enact a payroll tax holiday for the remainder of 2020—specifically for small businesses employing fewer than 100 people. The move will benefit the vast majority of small business job creators and provide them with the extra boost needed to clear the aftermath of the pandemic.
Additionally, a subset of entrepreneurs often ignored should be included in the payroll tax holiday: independent contractors. Many of these self-employed business owners pay both the employer and employee portion of the payroll tax. Therefore, qualifying these individuals for the tax cut will supply double the economic benefit.
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It’s also important to note the earnings ceiling tied to the Social Security contribution of the payroll tax—which accounts for the largest portion paid to Uncle Sam per paycheck. The limit ensures that independent contractors who are struggling the most will benefit the most. It’s not simply a give-away to the minority of self-employed individuals who are fortunate enough to operate successfully in this challenging environment.
The public health crisis is putting America’s small business entrepreneurs to the test. Congress should continue to extend a helping hand so the post-coronavirus recovery can mimic the economic advancement made over the last three years. It will be an uphill battle but hopefully our elected officials will deliver.
Elaine Parker is the President of the Job Creators Network Foundation.
Robinhood Financial Inc., facing lawsuits over crashes on its trading platform amid violent stock market swings, is now being accused of offering a “$75 goodwill credit” to dupe customers into waiving their legal rights.
Attorneys for users who are suing the beleaguered online brokerage company asked a federal judge in Florida to order Robinhood to stop sending “misleading communications” and to void any releases already signed by customers.
“We view this type of activity by Robinhood as a calculated attempt to wipe out users’ class action claims without informing the users that they can instead participate in the class action should they so choose” lawyer Michael S. Taaffe said in a statement.
Robinhood’s platform has gone down multiple times this month, creating problems for trading equities, options and cryptocurrency. The crashes have set back the Silicon Valley startup, which has been trying to lure young, tech-savvy investors who want to trade entirely online.
Robinhood said in an emailed statement that it’s quickly compensating customers who contact the company on a “case-by-case review.” The company said it aims to compensate customers before the conclusion of the litigation to avoid a long wait. Claims that Robinhood is attempting to block customers from participating in any class action are inaccurate, according to the statement.
Read More: Robinhood Outages Show Perils of Move Fast and Break Things
The House has approved the coronavirus spending bill, which will now go the President Trump’s desk for signing.
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The dollar posted its biggest weekly decline in more than a decade on Friday, as trillions of dollars’ worth of stimulus efforts by governments and central banks helped temper a rout in global markets driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
The dollar surged in March as tumbling stock and debt markets caused a scramble for the world’s most liquid currency.
DOW SLIPS AFTER 3-DAY RALLY COINCIDES WITH $2T CORONAVIRUS AID
But big government spending pledges and coordinated efforts by central banks around the world to increase the supply of dollars have supported a rally in other major currencies.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a $2.2 trillion aid package – the largest in American history – to help people and businesses cope with the economic downturn inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak.
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The dollar dipped 0.87% against a basket of currencies Friday to 98.41. It fell 3.90% this week – its biggest weekly decline since March 2009.
The dollar index last week had racked up its biggest weekly gain since the financial crisis.
Equity benchmark index Sensex erased early sharp gains to close lower by 131 points on Friday, snapping its three-day rising streak as concerns over an impending recession heightened after the RBI said the projected annual growth was at risk due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a bid to support the economy during the pandemic, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das unveiled a slew of measures, including its steepest interest rate cuts in more than 11 years. The repo has been cut by 75 basis points to 4.4% – the lowest in at least 15 years.
Further, the Reserve Bank reduced the cash reserve ratio (CRR) for all banks by 100 basis points to 3% to release Rs 1.37 lakh crore across the banking system. It also allowed banks to put on hold monthly instalment payments on all term loans for three months.
After opening significantly higher, the 30-share BSE barometer gave up all the gains to end 131.18 points or 0.44% lower at 29,815.59. It hit a high of 31,126.03 and a low of 29,346.99 in day trade.
On the other hand, the broad-based NSE Nifty closed 18.80 points, or 0.22%, higher at 8,660.25.
Bajaj Finance was the biggest loser in the Sensex pack, tanking up to 8%, followed by Hero MotoCorp, IndusInd Bank, Maruti and HCL Tech.
Axis Bank, ITC, NTPC and M&M were among the top gainers.
Despite massive rate cuts, domestic market turned negative on concerns over the annual economic growth amid rising uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic, traders said.
Announcing the decisions of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), RBI Governor Das said that no projection for growth and inflation was being given in view of the uncertainty created by outbreak of the deadly virus.
He further said that the growth projection of 4.7% for the fourth quarter of 2019-20 and 5% for the whole fiscal was at risk.
Jimeet Modi, Founder and CEO, Samco Securities said, In such uncertain times, instead of fresh funds entities want to save their skin, RBI’s relaxation of only 3 months instead of 6 months for moratorium on interest on loans and working capital has disappointed many.
He added that there is no doubt that the RBI is playing every card in its pocket to prevent a crisis-like situation by giving banks the ability to lend more, but as such no direct helping hand has been given to ailing industries as of now.
Meanwhile globally, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended higher, while benchmarks in Europe were trading in the red.
International oil benchmark Brent crude fell 2.20% to USD 25.76 per barrel in futures trade.
On the currency front, the rupee depreciated marginally to 75.20 against the US dollar in intra-day trade.
The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 17 in the country on Friday and the number of coronavirus cases climbed to 724, according to the Health Ministry.
The number of deaths around the world linked to the new coronavirus has crossed over 24,000.
Trump to speak to Chinese president Xi Thursday night
U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Carafano (ret.) talks about the propaganda war China is waging against the United States over where coronavirus started and how Washington needs to remain bipartisan while combating the virus in America.
RIYADH (Reuters) – Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies pledged on Thursday to inject $5 trillion in fiscal spending into the global economy to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus and “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic.”
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Showing more unity than at any time since the 2008-2009 financial crisis that led to the G20’s creation, the leaders said they committed during a videoconference summit to implement and fund all necessary health measures needed to stop the virus’ spread.
DraftKings founder and CEO Jason Robins says since his company is digital, it’s given him an opportunity to gain leverage in the sports betting industry.
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Sports betting firm DraftKings plans to proceed with its plans to go public despite the ongoing impact for the coronavirus outbreak, CEO Jason Robins said during an appearance on FOX Business Network on Thursday.
The deadly outbreak forced all major U.S. sports leagues to indefinitely suspend their seasons, erasing a key source of revenue for casino and sportsbooks on the eve of NCAA March Madness. Despite the unprecedented shutdown, Robins said DraftKings remains well-positioned to move forward.
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“On our end, I think the plans are the same,” Robins said. “We don’t have a big physical presence. Being a digital company, obviously not having sports reduces the amount of content we have. But the types our team is working on, the products we’re working on, nothing much has changed there.”
“Same story for us on the going-public side, where we’re proceeding with that as planned and really we’re trying to just continue with the same strategy and the same path we’ve been going down,” Robins added.
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DraftKings is set to go public as part of a three-way merger deal with Diamond Eagle Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company, and gaming platform SBTech. Once the merger is complete, DraftKings would begin trading as a public company.
Robins said he expects the deal to close in the second quarter of 2020.
“We just need to close that deal and nothing really has changed there for us,” he said.
All 465 of the United States’ commercial casinos have closed since the coronavirus outbreak began, according to data from the American Gaming Association. Brick-and-mortar locations were forced to close as U.S. sports came to a halt and local authorities enacted social distancing protocols.
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Robins acknowledged that DraftKings took a hit to revenue following the suspension of March Madness, which is considered the highest-volume sports betting event of the year. To make up for the financial setback, DraftKings turned to new offerings, running betting pools on offbeat topics such as HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the weather.
“I think that’s a potential silver lining here is that we are introducing new people to new products,” Robins said. “We are getting people that maybe that wouldn’t have otherwise to come on to some of these pool products that we’re creating.”
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When Saudi Arabia kicked off its oil-price war and triggered the worst crude crash in a generation, U.S. President Donald Trump lauded the ensuing decline in pump prices, saying it would be “like a tax cut” for Americans.
Weeks later, the crisis remains a low priority for the president, who has continually expressed his satisfaction with cheap gasoline and whose agenda has been consumed by the coronavirus pandemic itself, according to people familiar with the situation. While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday took the strongest action yet to calm the market — pressing Saudi Arabia to dial back its production surge — the kingdom has shown no signs of slowing down.
Now, with thousands of oil jobs hanging in the balance and the U.S. shale industry in upheaval, any action from Trump himself may be too little, too late. Oil’s downturn has rapidly devolved from a simple case of too much supply to a worst-case scenario of total demand destruction — a problem far harder to solve from the Oval Office.
“The window for Trump to pressure the Saudis and/or Russians to cut oil supply may have closed last week,” said Ellen Wald, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “Now, with most of Europe, the United States and India shutting down their economies and issuing stay-at-home directives, collapsing demand is the big story.”
Pompeo’s latest intervention helped to modestly and briefly lift prices, but did nothing to change the outlook on demand, which is disintegrating at a record pace as virus-related lockdowns halt transit across the globe. At this point, higher oil prices could further imperil refiners, responsible for churning out the cheap gasoline Trump prizes.
That puts the president in a quandary: Shale producers are pushing for increasingly radical solutions to the problem — such as a tariff on foreign oil — as refiners beset by falling demand are scrambling to keep their plants in operation. Industry divisions have made finding a solution even more difficult for the administration, whose efforts so far been patchy as best.
While U.S. diplomats are now pressuring Saudi Arabia to restrict production, the Kingdom has no intentions of changing course, at least not while Trump keeps cheering low pump prices, said people with knowledge of the matter. Trump has yet to intervene, himself, despite saying last week that he might.
At the same time, the Department of Energy suspended plans to purchase 77 million barrels of U.S. crude meant to buffer the shale industry because the agency has no way to pay for it. Should funding become available — via Congress or the agency’s own budget — the oil buy will resume.
In the meantime, “the oversupply is snowballing much faster than any policy reactions to it,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group LLC. Even a total halt to Saudi Arabia’s price war wouldn’t be enough to save the market, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note Wednesday.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
On the demand side, the president’s options are increasingly limited. One thing he can do is stimulate the struggling economy so that businesses and consumers can better weather widespread, virus-related shutdowns.
“Dispensing $4 trillion in credit to keep businesses running is ultimately, probably the best you can do to maintain demand,” said Jamies Lucier, managing director of research firm Capital Alpha Partners LLC.
Congress is poised to pass a $2 trillion stimulus package, days after the Federal Reserve unveiled a sweeping set of economic measures this week.
Meanwhile the Saudis and Russians continue to unleash unprecedented volumes of crude into an already oversupplied market, with no signs of slowing down even as the coronavirus outbreak chips away at their customer base.
“These are very drastic times for the oil and gas industry,” said Dan Eberhart, a Trump donor and oil executive who said he’s taken part in several calls with administration officials in recent weeks. “Drastic action on the policy front is needed.”
— With assistance by Javier Blas, and Mario Parker
Tata firms, Bajaj group, Godrej see buying either by promoters or management
Indian promoters are using the drop in equity markets as an opportunity to consolidate their holdings in group companies.
This comes at a time when the Indian markets have witnessed an unprecedented correction over the last month and a half
Nifty is down 36% from recent highs and many stocks have seen significant correction.
The largest quantum of buying by promoters or top management was witnessed in the Tata Group (Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel, Indian Hotels, Tata Motors, Tata Power and Tata Consumer) and the Bajaj Group (Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Holdings and Bajaj Auto).
Promoters also enhanced their stakes in Mphasis, Maruti Suzuki, Sun Pharma, Godrej Industries, JSW Steel and GMR Infra.
L&T increased its holding in Mindtree from 60.55% to 61.07%.
Utkarsh Sinha, MD, Bexley Advisors, told The Hindu, “Bear markets usually offer great pickings for value investors looking to buy for the long term.
“We are definitely entering such a phase. And typically, a promoter is the definition of a value investor in his or her own company.”
Firms such as Sun Pharma, Emami and Granules India have announced share buy-backs.
“Buy-backs are not only the norm in such an environment, they may make the most sense for spending accumulated capital. If you are able to expand your equity pool in a bear environment, it gives you the ability to go back to the market on more favourable terms down the road,” Mr. Sinha added.
Motilal Oswal Research said there was a heightened activity in promoters buying / raising stakes.
“We expect the buy-backs to accelerate given the prevailing juicy valuations across sectors. Any relaxation on the buy-back tax front can prove to be a catalyst for more activity, in our view,” it wrote to its clients.
Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran has bought two lakh shares each of Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Power each and one lakh shares each of Tata Consumer Products, Tata Chemicals, Tata Communications and Indian Hotels.
However, some promoters were seen reducing stakes.
Notable names where promoter holding had reduced over the last month include IIFL Wealth, Dixon Technologies, Varun Beverages and UltraTech Cement.
US unemployment claims soar as coronavirus slams economy
Last week’s jobless claims hit a record-breaking 3.28 million. FOX Business’ Lauren Simonetti with more.
U.S. equity markets clambered higher Thursday as investors digested record jobless claims and waited for the House to vote on a $2 trillion relief package.
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First-time unemployment filings surged to a record 3.28 million last week, according to the Labor Department, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to temporarily close their doors and lay off employees. The previous record was 695,000, set in 1982.
The all-time high in claims came hours after the Senate voted 96-0, passing the $2 trillion relief package that would extend aid to individuals, small businesses and corporations hit hardest by the pandemic. The House of Representatives is scheduled to debate the bill on Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained as many as 1,022 points, or 4.8 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite climbed as much as 4.4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. A gain of 1,109.77 points or more would lift the Dow out of bear-market territory.
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Looking at stocks, hard-hit travel-related names are seeking direction as the status of the $2 trillion relief package remains in limbo.
Boeing shares continued to gain, adding to the 67 percent gain they’ve seen this week.
Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron were weaker as West Texas Intermediate crude oil plunged 3 percent to $23.76 a barrel. U.S. shale names Continental Resources and Pioneer Natural Resources also fell.
EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION
Banks gained even as buying across the Treasury complex flattened the yield curve. The yield on the 10-year note was down 5.8 basis points at 0.798 percent while the yield on the 3-month bill, which fell below zero on Wednesday, was little changed at -0.048 percent.
JP MORGAN CHASE & CO.
BANK OF AMERICA CORP.
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Ford said it’s aiming to restart production at some North American plants as early as April 6. The company’s credit rating was cut to junk at S&P.
On the earnings front, Micron Technology’s results exceeded expectations and gave a stronger-than-anticipated forecast as the company said it would receive a boost as more people worked from home.
Signet Jewelers reported better-than-expected quarterly results, but suspended its dividend and did not provide financial guidance due to uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC.
SIGNET JEWELERS LTD
In Europe, Germany’s DAX paced the decline, down 1 percent, while France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE were off 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Asian markets were lower across the board with Japan’s Nikkei falling 4.5 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sliding 0.7 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite down 0.6 percent.