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House passes $484 billion bill to boost small businesses and hospitals, sends it to Trump

The House passed a $484 billion package Thursday to bolster small businesses and hospitals ravaged by the coronavirus crisis and expand testing desperately needed to start the return to normal life.

Donning face coverings and voting in alphabetical sets to cut the risk of infection, representatives approved the bill easily by a 388-5-1 vote. One member, independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, voted “present.” The House sends the proposal to President Donald Trump, who is set to sign it into law in the coming hours.


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Before the chamber passed the plan to try to rescue a crumbling U.S. economy, it also approved a Democratic-majority select subcommittee to oversee the Trump administration’s use of a $500 billion pool of aid for corporations, states and municipalities. Congress approved those funds last month.

Between votes, House staff swept through the chamber to clean and disinfect it. Representatives came back to the Capitol in force Thursday for the first time in about a month.

Once signed into law, the legislation will bring the government’s emergency response to an unprecedented total of more than $2.5 trillion across four bills. After days of sniping over what the measure should include, lawmakers replenished a key $350 billion small business aid program that dried up last week.

The bill passed Thursday includes:

  • $310 billion in new funds for the so-called Paycheck Protection Program, which gives small firms loans that could be forgiven if they use them on wages, benefits, rent and utilities. Within that pool, $60 billion will specifically go to small lenders, a priority Democrats pushed for after they blocked a $250 billion funding bill earlier this month.
  • $60 billion for Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants.
  • $75 billion in grants to hospitals overwhelmed by a rush of Covid-19 patients.
  • $25 billion to bolster coronavirus testing, a core piece of any plan to restart the U.S. economy.

Four Republicans and one Democrat voted against the proposal. The lone Democrat who opposed it was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents hard-hit areas of the Bronx and Queens. She argued the bill did not go far enough to help struggling individuals and governments.


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The bill’s approval likely will not end the government’s response to the outbreak or disagreements about how best to reduce the devastating toll on Americans’ health and paychecks. The first round of small businesses funding was committed just days after it became available — though it is unclear how many companies have actually received it — and the new money could also dry up quickly.

Democrats have pushed for an additional bill to send money to states and municipalities asking the federal government to help them cover budget crunches created by the pandemic, among other priorities for the party. While Trump has said he supports passing the aid, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week that he supports allowing states to declare bankruptcy instead.

The destruction coronavirus has wrought shows in mounting infections, deaths, layoffs and furloughs. The U.S. now has more than 850,000 Covid-19 cases, and the disease has killed at least 47,000 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 26 million people have filed for unemployment insurance over the latest five-week period, according to government data released Thursday. While some states will start to reopen — against the wishes of Trump administration health officials — many more will keep businesses shuttered for weeks longer to slow the disease’s spread.

As they look ahead to the next legislation, Democratic leaders have called for hazard pay for Americans still required to go into their workplaces, national mail-in ballots to make voting safer and money to rescue the U.S. Postal Service. Trump has pushed for a sprawling infrastructure plan — an area where he and Democrats have failed to reach accord so far in his presidency — along with incentives for restaurant and entertainment spending and a payroll tax cut.

Republican congressional leaders, meanwhile, have grown more wary of spending as the government tab during the crisis approaches $3 trillion.

Source: cnbc.com | Original Link

Oil continues unprecedented sell-off: June futures drop 20%, May contract still has a negative price

West Texas Intermediate crude futures for May delivery reversed gains to trade in negative territory again on Tuesday, one day after plunging below zero for the first time in history. The contract expires today, which means that thin trading volume has contributed to the wild price action.

The massive selling gripping the oil market is now spreading to more futures contracts, worrying investors about the deep economic damage being done by the coronavirus shutdowns.

The contract for June delivery, which is the more actively traded and therefore a better indication of how Wall Street views the price of oil, slipped more than 20% to $16.24 per barrel. Earlier in the session it had dipped below $15. The contract for July delivery fell roughly 11% to $23.42.


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The May contract last traded at negative $4 per barrel, which means producers would effectively pay buyers to take the oil off their hands. On Monday it fell below zero for the first time in history. However, as contracts approach expiration, trading volume is typically thin.

The front part of the oil futures ‘curve,’ which is the May contract that expires today, was hit the hardest since it applies to fuel that’s set to be delivered while most of the country remains on lockdown thanks to the coronavirus. The only buyers of oil futures for that contract are entities that want to physically take the delivery like a refinery or an airline. But demand has dropped and storage tanks are filled, so they don’t need it.

Futures contracts trade by month with expiration dates. Toward the end of their expiration, speculators usually trade out of the contract and then buyers who will accept physical delivery of the commodity remain.

Meanwhile, in another bearish sign, international benchmark Brent crude traded 15.5% lower at $21.60 per barrel. Earlier in the session Brent fell to $18.10, its lowest level since Dec. 2001, before paring some of those losses.

“Oil futures continue to defy gravity,” Louise Dickson, Rystad Energy’s oil markets analyst, told CNBC in an email. “This moment is of course historical and could not better illustrate the price-utopia that the market has been in since March, when the full scale of the oversupply problem started to become evident but the market remained oblivious,” she added.

And as storage continues to fill, some are warning that prices could trade at extremely depressed levels for the foreseeable future.

“We expect extremely weak fundamentals to persist for at least the next month,” Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Hsueh wrote in a note to clients Monday. “Continued pressure on infrastructure may result in negative pricing at some point again before the end of May, on the current trajectory,” he added.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented demand loss. The International Energy Agency warned in its closely-watched monthly oil report that demand in April could be 29 million barrels per day lower than a year ago, hitting a level last seen in 1995. And with places to store the crude quickly filling, some argue that prices could stay lower for longer.


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“Even as OPEC++ oil production cuts are set to kick in May 1, and supply and inventories should tighten significantly in 2H′20, the next 4-6 weeks are seeing severe storage distress, likely to drive wild price realizations and unusual disconnects, including supercontango and negative prices,” Citi analysts led by Eric Lee wrote in a note to clients Monday.

The spread between the May and June contracts — known as the front month and second month — is now the widest in history, which Bernadette Johnson, vice president of strategic analytics at Enverus, described as “insane.”

“That’s a very strong signal that there are bottlenecks in the physical market and people are having a hard time placing barrels,” she said.

Source: cnbc.com | Original Link

Stock Market Update Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Stocks retreated from 4 week highs today, after some disappointing economic data.

Retail Sales dropped a record 8.7% in the month of March. This is the biggest 1-month drop since the Commerce Department started tracking sales in 1992.


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And the Empire State Manufacturing index showed a -78.2 reading. This is more than double the worst reading during the financial crisis (-34.3).

The major indices were down more than 2.0% at the open and were at session lows just 20 minutes into the day.

After the rough start, stocks were choppy.

The major indices drifted higher from lunch until the afternoon, trimming losses to less than 1.0% for the day. But another drop in the last hour of trading left the major indices lower by 1.4 to 2.2%.

Here’s where the major indices ended the day:

  • The S&P finished with a 2.2% loss. Down 63 points, the S&P ended at 2,783.
  • The DOW ended 1.9% lower. Dropping 445 points the DOW closed at 23,504.
  • The NASDAQ was down 1.4%. With a 119 point loss the NASDAQ finished at 8,395.

Crude Oil (CL) dropped for the 4th day in a row and closed below $20. With an 0.8% loss, Crude Oil finished at $19.95 a barrel.

Bank of America (BAC) reported disappointing earnings and dropped 6.5%. The bank said that Q1 profit dropped 45%.

Goldman Sachs (GS) was a loser as well, reporting a 46% decline in Q1 profit and ended the day higher by 0.2%.

But on a positive note, UnitedHealth (UNH) reported better than expected numbers and finished higher with a 4.1% gain.

Airlines finalized a deal for government payroll relief and finished the day mixed.

American Airlines (AAL) was up 2.9%, Delta Air Lines (DAL) was down 0.8%, United (UAL) was higher by 3.1%, and Southwest (LUV) lost 5.6%.

Here is the economic calendar for the week:

Real Time Economic Calendar provided by Investing.com.

Source: RockwellTrading by Markus Heitkoetter | Original Link

Stock Market Update Monday, April 6th, 2020

It was quite a day.

Stock were up early on news that COVID-19 cases seem to be tapering off.

According to John Hopkins data, there were 32,100 new cases in the U.S. on Friday, 33,260 cases on Saturday, and just 28,200 cases on Sunday.


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The major indices were up almost 4.0% overnight, then quickly dropped at the open.

But after a quick 10-minute slide, stocks rallied all morning long.

Trading was sideways during lunch and in early afternoon trading. But stocks rallied to session highs in the last 30 minutes of the day to put the major indices up over 7.0% across the board!

Here’s where the major indices ended the day:

  • The S&P finished with a 7.0% gain. Up 175 points, the S&P ended at 2,664.
  • The DOW ended higher by 7.7%. Adding 1,627 points the DOW closed at 22,680.
  • The NASDAQ was up 7.3%. With a 534 point gain the NASDAQ finished at 7,908.

Crude Oil (CL) snapped its 2-day win streak. With a 7.6% loss, Crude Oil finished at $26.20 a barrel. Crude Oil was up big last week on hopes that there would be an output cut. But today’s OPEC meeting was postponed for later this week and the uncertainty was a good reason to take profits.

Gold (GC) joined stocks with a big day of its own. Up 2.9%, Gold flirted with the 1,700 mark and finished at $1693.6 an ounce.

Boeing (BA) announced that it will suspend production at its South Carolina factories because of the coronavirus until further notice. But traders seemed to like decision…the stock was up 19.5%.

Wayfair (W) seems to be a hit with the “stay at home” crowd. The online retailer says business is booming with an increase in office furniture and home decor sales. Wayfair stock rallied 36.2% today.

Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen threw a wet blanket on Friday’s already worrisome jobs numbers. Yellen said that if Friday’s numbers included more up to date data, we’d probably see unemployment at “12 or 13% at this point and moving higher.”

Here is the economic calendar for the week:

Real Time Economic Calendar provided by Investing.com.

Source: RockwellTrading by Markus Heitkoetter | Original Link

Job losses in March could be the worst in a decade, and that’s just the beginning

March’s employment report could show the most monthly job losses in a decade, but it’s only a fraction of the real hit to the workforce that came when many states issued stay-at-home orders late in the month.


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Economists expect a consensus decline of 100,000 nonfarm payrolls, according to Refinitiv. But the survey for the report was done before many states began telling residents to stay home. For the final two weeks of the month, 10 million people sought unemployment benefits as businesses and schools closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“The main message is the labor market conditions started to slip in March, but obviously with the last two initial claims reports we’ve seen, we know April will be a disaster for labor markets,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays. “We still have two more weeks, and we’re probably looking at an unemployment rate of more than 10% in April.”

He expects the change in payrolls to be flat, matching the level of February 2019. But if it meets consensus forecasts, the last 100,000 decline was in February, 2011 when the economy was recovering from the financial crisis.


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“The suddenness with which it all slipped off a cliff in two weeks is shocking,” Gapen said. “We now have stay-at-home orders in states that account for 82% of GDP.”

The unemployment rate is expected to rise to 3.8%, up from 3.5% in February, which matched the lowest level of unemployment in more than 50 years. February hiring was robust, at 273,000 payrolls.

“It marks the end of the longest expansion in U.S. history,” Gapen said.

Source: cnbc.com | Original Link