Stock futures trade lower on US job concerns

Dow ends off session highs

FOX Business’ Lauren Simonetti says a lot of Wednesday’s gains came from Boeing.

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U.S. equity futures are trading lower ahead of weekly jobless claims numbers.

The major futures indexes are indicating a decline of about 1 percent when trading begins on Thursday.

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Jobless claims are expected to surge to 1 million last week, with estimates running as high as 4 million as efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic triggered a wave of layoffs and brought the U.S. economy to a virtual standstill. That would exceed by far the record-high number of 695 thousand claims filed in October 1982.

The Senate late Wednesday passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The unanimous vote came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced.

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared somber and exhausted as he announced the vote — and he released senators from Washington until April 20, though he promised to recall them if needed.

SENATE PASSES $2 TRILLION CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS BILL IN UNANIMOUS VOTE

In Asian markets, Tokyo's Nikkei fell 4.5 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was lower by 0.5 percent and China's Shanghai Composite slipped 0.6 percent.

Prices have swung wildly as business shutdowns spread around the world. Investors say they need to see a decline in numbers of new coronavirus infections before prices can bottom out.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 21200.55 +495.64 +2.39%
SP500 S&P 500 2475.56 +28.23 +1.15%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 7384.295089 -33.56 -0.45%

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 advanced to 2,475.66 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.4 percent to 21,200.55. The Nasdaq lost 33.56 points to 7,384.30.

Global central banks have cut interest rates and injected money into financial markets.

The number of known infections has leaped past 450,000 people worldwide, and more than 20,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Overall, more than 112,000 have recovered.

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For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness including pneumonia and death.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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Discovery Cancels Live Upfront, Prepares ‘Alternative Digital Experience’

No surprise – Discovery, Inc. has canceled its live Upfront presentation in New York scheduled for May 12 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.

Most live broadcast and cable upfronts have been canceled as of today, as well as a number of NewFront presentations.

The decision was made out of an abundance of caution and care for the health and safety of employees, talent and business partners, Discovery said, and it has prepared “an alternative digital experience to showcase the company, portfolio, and advanced advertising products to its valued clients and agency partners..” Details coming at a later date.

“With Discovery’s increased scale and reach, we were proud and excited to showcase our expanded portfolio of beloved brands and talent, for the first time, during the traditional broadcast Upfront week. The decision to cancel is bittersweet but unequivocally the right one,” said Jon Steinlauf, Discovery’s chief of U.S. ad sales. “We have a terrific story to tell and more opportunities and products than ever for current and prospective advertisers. We will just tell that story in a way that best suits these unprecedented times.”

Discovery’s portfolio includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the forthcoming multi-platform JV with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport,  which has rights to the Olympic Games across Europe.

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Disney CEO Bob Iger steps down; company veteran Bob Chapek takes reins

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bog Iger abruptly stepped down Tuesday, sending shock waves throughout Hollywood, Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

Bob Chapek, who has served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since its creation in 2018, was named Iger’s successor, effective immediately.

Chapek’s jolting promotion, which sent Disney shares DIS, -3.62% down 2% in after-hours trading Tuesday, ended years of speculation over who would succeed Iger at the world’s largest entertainment company.

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger, 69, who has been at the helm for 15 years, said in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Bob and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the Company’s creative endeavors.”

Iger assumed the role of executive chairman through 2021, where he will also direct the company’s creative endeavors. Chapek, 60, has been employed at Disney for 27 years. Iger said Chapek had been identified as his successor for some time.

In response to an analyst’s question during a conference call about the sudden, unexpected timing of his departure, Iger said that with the company’s $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets last year and a strategic plan in place, it was best for him to spend more time on the creative side. “Getting everything right creatively should be my No. 1 goal,” Iger said. Managing that while overseeing all the properties of Disney, he added, was unrealistic.

When pressed about his plans after 2021, Iger told CNBC he would “use my imagination.”

Wall Street was caught flat-footed by the timing of the announcement, which comes just three months after Disney launched its streaming service, Disney+, which competes with Apple Inc.’s AAPL, -3.39% Apple TV+, Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN, -1.82% Prime Video, Netflix Inc. NFLX, -2.34% , Comcast Inc.’s CMCSA, -3.21% upcoming Peacock, and other services.

“It was the right time for a new CEO to lead the company in the next pivotal period,” Iger said during the conference call.

Several analysts, summarizing the tone of the hastily arranged call, expressed shock at the timing of Iger’s announcement. It was Iger who oversaw the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm to build the most successful studio in Hollywood history. At the same time, Iger postponed his retirement multiple times.

See also: Disney CEO Robert Iger might be sticking around even longer

“Disruption is inevitable in this industry,” said Chapek, who takes the reins at a particularly crucial time for Disney. Two of the company’s parks — in Hong Kong and Shanghai — are closed because of the coronavirus, while concerns linger over the virus’ affect on Disney Cruise Line business.

Additionally, the company faces high-profile competition for the eyeballs of millions of consumers with questions about what’s left in the creative tank for the venerable Marvel catalog. For now, at least, consumers are lapping up Disney+ content: 26.5 million people subscribed in its first quarter of availability, and another couple of million have joined in 2020.

See also: Disney+ subscriptions have topped 28 million, earnings beat expectations

“In the near-term, we expect subscriber growth to come primarily from outside the U.S., with the next meaningful phase of domestic subscriber growth likely to coincide with the release later this calendar year of highly anticipated original content, including episodic series from Marvel and season two of ‘The Mandalorian,’” Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said in a conference call with analysts in February.

Chapek, who will report to Iger for the next 18 months, has overseen major projects such as the $5.5 billion Disney Shanghai resort, and two “Star Wars”-themed lands that opened last year in California and Florida. He’s raised ticket prices at Disney’s parks on peak travel days to manage capacity.

Disney earlier this month reported operating profit of $2.34 billion on revenue of $7.4 billion from its theme-parks business, beating average analyst expectations for profit of $2.32 billion on revenue of $7.32 billion. The TV-networks business produced operating profit of $1.63 billion on revenue of $7.36 billion, exceeding average analyst expectations for operating income of $1.53 billion on sales of $6.93 billion.

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Cargill latest giant to cook up own plant-based ‘meat’

Agriculture giant Cargill announced plans Monday to launch a plant-based burger this spring, stiffening competition for fake-meat startups such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

The privately held Minnesota-based company said restaurants and retailers will start receiving its private-label meatless patties and ground-beef-like product in early April, following other global meat giants’ forays into the growing plant-based market.

“We need to keep all protein options on the table,” Brian Sikes, the leader of Cargill’s global protein and salt business, said in a statement. “Whether you are eating alternative or animal protein, Cargill will be at the center of the plate.”

Cargill is just the latest challenge to Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, which have brought plant-based patties into fast food chains such as Burger King and Carl’s Jr. Meanwhile, Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods — which along with Cargill are among the world’s largest meat processors — launched their own plant-based products last year.

Shares in Beyond Meat tumbled 6.3 percent at the open to $110 amid news of Cargill’s new offering and were trading down 4.3 percent at $112.38 as of 1:27 p.m.

The restaurants, retailers, cafeterias and other customers who buy Cargill’s plant-based products will be able to rely on the agribusiness titan’s supply chain and scale, the company said. Cargill makes the products in its own facilities, “delivering the taste and consistency consumers want,” according to a news release.

In addition to its $7 billion in investments in animal protein in the last five years, the 155-year-old Cargill has put $100 million since 2018 into Puris, a pea protein producer and Beyond Meat supplier.

Beyond Meat did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cargill’s move. But privately held Impossible Foods seemed to welcome the company to the plant-based arena.

“If Cargill makes a truly delicious and nutritious plant-based product that satisfies true omnivores — not a niche product for those who already avoid animal meat — this is a great move for people and the planet,” Rachel Konrad, Impossible’s chief communications officer, said in a statement. “The switch to a plant-based food system is inevitable, and even the livestock industry is starting to recognize and validate this transition.”

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The ugly side to the booming U.S. economy, in one telling chart

Low unemployment rates, rising wage growth, a relentless bull market — by many measures, the good times are rolling. Just ask President Trump, who is glad to take credit for “the greatest economy in our nation’s history.”

But there is an ugly side to this boom that you obviously won’t hear Trump talk about at one of his MAGA rallies, according to the Wolf Street blog’s Wolf Richter, who calls it the “bifurcation” of the U.S. economy.

“One group of consumers is doing well. They have rising incomes, and they can afford the surging home prices, the surging health-care costs, and the surging new-vehicle prices,” he wrote. “There are other consumers whose incomes have not budged much. They have jobs but are living paycheck to paycheck, and not because they’re splurging but because, at their level of the economy, prices of basic goods and services have run away from them.”

Richter said this group of people is getting hit by nosebleed costs in health care, education, and housing to the point where they’re getting “strung out.” They’re just not benefiting from bigger paydays and the fact that stocks are soaring.

He used this chart to illustrate his point:

As Richter’s numbers on the chart show, the rate of credit card balances that are 30 days or more delinquent at the 4,500 or so commercial banks that are smaller than the top 100 banks spiked to 7.05% in the fourth quarter, the highest delinquency rate in the data going back to the 1980s.

Meawnhile, the delinquency rate at the biggest 100 banks was at 2.48%.

Richter explained that this is a clear sign the economy is working for those higher on the income spectrum and leaving the lower earners to suffer.

“During the Financial Crisis, delinquencies on credit cards… were soaring because over 10 million people had lost their jobs and they couldn’t make their payments,” he wrote. “But these are the good times… And yet, there are these skyrocketing delinquency rates in the subprime subset of credit cards and auto loans. It means these people are working, and they’re falling behind their debts.”

So yes, while it’s true that rising stocks, home prices, investment properties, etc. are lining the pockets of the haves, the have-nots, according to Richter’s take on credit-card delinquencies, just keep getting squeezed.

“That’s the bifurcation that we’re seeing in the chart,” he said.

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Google drops huge Android 11 update that boosts 5G, Dark Mode and lets you screen-record

GOOGLE has shocked Android fans with an early preview of a major update for their mobile phones.

There are loads of new features to get excited about, and we've rounded up all the details you need to know.

What is Android 11? News and rumours

Each year, Google rolls out a brand new version of its Android operating system.

Google has surprised the world with a particularly early preview of Android 11 for 2020.

Most of the best features won't be revealed until later in the year.

And the full version of Android 11 probably won't arrive on your phone until very late in 2020 – and perhaps even 2021.

New Android 11 features – all the updates revealed

Here are some of the confirmed changes live in the developer preview…

Improved 5G: Android 11 helps apps take better advantage of speedy 5G internet.

New screens: The update improves support for "waterfall" screens and displays with pinhole cutouts.

Bubbles: You can now keep a shortcut to specific chats with pals on-screen at all times, in the form of a "bubble".

One-time permissions: Android 11 makes it so you can grant a single-use permission for an app to access something, like location or photos.

Screen recording: This is exactly what you'd imagine – an easy way to record your screen without installing a third-party app.

And here are some other minor updates:

  • Automatic dark mode switch-on (just like on iPhone)
  • Improved privacy and security
  • Motion Sense gesture for Pixel 4 to pause or play music
  • Airplane Mode won't disconnect Bluetooth audio connections anymore

This list will grow over time, so keep checking back.

Android 11 supported devices

Here's what you need to know…

Just a few phone models can get the Android 11 update right now.

Here's the full list:

  • Google Pixel 2
  • Google Pixel 3
  • Google Pixel 3a
  • Google Pixel 4

It's worth remembering that this list will grow over time.

Android 11 developer preview – how to install Android 11 now

Installing a developer preview is really only advised for advanced users.

Google has created a handy guide on how to do it here.

But beware: you probably shouldn't install Android 11 on your main phone just yet.

The update is still in "developer preview" phase, which means it's really only meant for people testing the software.

You'll likely find major bugs with the software, which can ruin your daily experience with the device.

And installing Android 11 will also involve wiping all of your data – not very convenient.

If you really want to try Android 11 out, it may be worth getting a cheap second-hand Pixel 2 or Pixel 3a.

In other news, Samsung phones can play Xbox and PS4 games from Friday with new Google Stadia app.

Beware these 24 "dangerous" Android apps that have been installed 384million times.

And experts have also warned over dodgy Android virus detectors that don't work.

What new features would you like to see added with Android 11? Let us know in the comments!

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