Wall Street retreats a day after S&P 500 returned to break-even for the year.
Stocks fell on Tuesday, pulling back after a string of gains that had lifted Wall Street by 6 percent this month.
The S&P 500 was down about 1 percent in early trading. Stocks in Britain, Germany and France were nearly 2 percent lower after a mostly positive day in Asia.
The S&P 500 erased its losses for this year on Monday. Investors have taken heart in signs that the global economy is on the mend, particularly in China, Europe and the United States. They have also been cheered by government and central bank efforts to use money to fight the global freeze.
Tuesday brought reminders that the global situation remained tenuous. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose, while prospects for a quick batch of new stimulus spending in the United States looked uncertain.
In Germany, new data showed exports had plunged in April by 24 percent, much more than expected, which cast doubt over how quickly Europe’s largest economy could bounce back.
And investors are wary of a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak that could force economic activity to halt once more. Infections are still rising in many U.S. states and public health officials are concerned that the nationwide protests over police brutality may lead to new cases of the virus.
Stock in Chesapeake Energy, the troubled oil and gas company, made moves on Monday that were astonishing even in a period in which the stock market has been rocked with volatility.
The company’s shares soared 182 percent during regular trading but then plunged more than 30 percent in after-hours trading. The free fall was most likely caused in part by a Bloomberg News report that Chesapeake was preparing to file for bankruptcy.
Trading in the stock was halted on Tuesday.
The company has a heavy debt load that it will struggle to repay at a time when oil prices, even after a recent rally, are well below levels reached in recent years. Chesapeake warned in a securities filing last month that it may reorganize under bankruptcy protection. At its after-hours trading price, Chesapeake has a stock market value just above $400 million.
Typically, shareholders get wiped out in bankruptcy, but in some cases, like that of Pacific Gas & Electric, the California utility, the shares retain much of their value. But this is unlikely to be the outcome for Chesapeake, judging by the price of its bonds, which are trading below 10 percent of their full value.
Bondholders come before shareholders when claiming assets of a bankrupt company, so the fact that the bonds are trading at very low prices is a strong signal that shareholders will get nothing.
Consumers will remember how companies responded to the pandemic.
Few people are looking forward to a return to business as usual, according to a new poll of Americans’ economic priorities after the pandemic.
The survey by Just Capital and The Harris Poll, reported first in today’s DealBook newsletter, found that just 25 percent of respondents thought capitalism as it stands was good for society. By contrast, a large majority thinks that the pandemic has exposed underlying structural problems and that big companies should “reset” their priorities.
More than 80 percent of respondents said they would remember which companies “did the right thing by their workers” during the Covid-19 crisis, whether that was extra safety measures or efforts to avoid layoffs. Three-quarters of those polled said they would remember the businesses that made missteps during the pandemic “long after it is over.”
Just Capital built a tool to track the actions taken during the pandemic by the 300 largest publicly traded employers in the United States. About 30 percent of those companies have announced pay cuts for executives or directors, while just over 10 percent have increased pay for front-line workers. In some cases, these temporary measures have already expired.
The French government announced a massive financial support program for its flagship aviation industry on Tuesday as global travel restrictions from the coronavirus slash passenger flights and orders for new planes, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
The package, worth 15 billion euros (almost $17 billion), includes some previously announced measures, as well as aid for Air France, Airbus and major French parts suppliers through direct government investment, subsidies, loans and loan guarantees. It also includes a special fund jointly financed by the government, Airbus and other big manufacturers to support small suppliers.
In exchange for the support, companies will be required to invest more low-emission aircraft, powered by electricity, hydrogen and other means, as the government capitalizes on the opportunity to make the French aviation industry the “cleanest in the world.”
”We are declaring a state of emergency to save our aeronautical industry to allow it to be more competitive,” Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister, said at a news briefing with France’s defense and environment ministers. He said the plan would allow France to set new global standards for low-carbon aircraft, with €1.5 billion earmarked over the next three years on research and development to develop a carbon-neutral aircraft by 2035.
The aeronautical sector is one of the biggest employers in France, providing 300,000 direct or indirect jobs in manufacturing, research and development. A third of those would have been wiped out if the government hadn’t stepped in, said Mr. LeMaire, adding that preserving jobs was the top priority.
Central bankers may experiment more as attempts to rescue the economy continue.
Faced with a crisis unlike any other in memory, central bankers have gone beyond what the monetary authorities did even in the darkest days of the 2008 global financial crisis.
Central bankers entered the crisis with low interest rates, leaving them less room to goose growth using their tried-and-true tools. Because they went into the crisis with limited ammunition to stoke growth, experimentation may prove even more crucial in the months and years ahead as the world embarks on what could be a long slog back to prosperity.
Germany, France, the United States and many other countries have poured trillions of dollars into their economies through tax cuts, cheap credit and cash handouts. Monetary policy and fiscal policy can act as complements during a crisis to get economies back on track.
But appetite for further fiscal action is eroding in some places, including the United States. And the next stage — the recovery — could pose a fresh test for the world’s central banks, forcing them to get more creative as they try to keep pandemic aftershocks from permanently scarring growth potential. The Fed and its global counterparts are shifting from crisis-fighting mode, when they worked to keep credit markets open, to a period when they must stoke lending and spending to get economies churning again.
“It will be a potential concern as the economy turns around, if that turnaround is less than ideal,” said Donald Kohn, a former Fed vice chairman now at the Brookings Institution. “Central banks will have to work hard at supplying the extra push, the extra zip that they’d want to achieve.”
The Hong Kong government is bailing out Cathay Pacific Airways, its beleaguered flag carrier, by injecting nearly $4 billion and taking a direct stake in its operations.
Like airlines around the world, Cathay Pacific was shaken to its core as its passenger traffic shrank to near zero amid the coronavirus pandemic. The airline said last month that its year-to-date losses totaled $580 million. So far this year, it has asked its employees to take unpaid leave, announced cuts to executive pay and grounded half of its fleet.
Cathay has also been hit by a year of anti-China protests, in which citizens have expressed fear over China’s encroaching grip over the semiautonomous territory, and the airline’s shares lost 20 percent of their value.
In a filing to Hong Kong’s stock exchange on Tuesday, Cathay said the Hong Kong government would inject nearly $4 billion into it through loans and other means. As part of the terms of the bailout, the government will take an undisclosed stake in the carrier, a move that gives it a direct say in its operations through two “observer” boardroom seats.
Cathay’s announcement came on the same day that hundreds of protesters gathered in Hong Kong shopping malls to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a protest march that became the start of the city’s biggest political crisis in decades.
Ahead of the announcement, rumors had swirled around a possible takeover by Air China, a Chinese state-owned enterprise. That stoked fears about China’s encroachment not only in the city’s politics but its finance sector.
Even before the contagion spread, Cathay Pacific’s fate looked increasingly uncertain.
Last year, it fell under withering criticism from China’s state-run propaganda machine after several of its employees participated in protests or spoke out in support of them on social media. The airline shuffled its leadership in an effort to deflect the fray, but Chinese customers avoided Cathay anyway, sending its traffic plummeting.
The industrial conglomerate 3M filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court in California on Monday, alleging price-gouging and bait-and-switch sales of 3M respirators from third-party Amazon sellers.
The complaint claims that three third-party sellers — all believed to be owned and operated by a California resident named Mao Yu — began in late February to sell what were advertised to be 3M-branded N95 masks on Amazon. The sellers charged for roughly 18 times 3M’s $1.27 list price for the respirators. Buyers spent more than $350,000 for such masks, and sometimes received fewer masks than promised or masks that were damaged or tampered with, according to the suit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
“By selling and delivering to customers counterfeit, damaged, deficient, or otherwise altered respirators and engaging in price-gouging, Defendants caused irreparable damage to 3M’s reputation,” the suit states.
The defendants in the case could not be reached for comment.
3M, based in a suburb of Saint Paul, Minn., has filed 12 other such suits as part of an effort to combat fraud, price-gouging and counterfeiting tied its respirators and other high-demand health products as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The travel business is picking up as Americans look for escape.
The nation’s largest airlines are preparing for a limited rebound next month as more Americans book vacations in places like Florida and the mountains and national parks in the West.
That resurgence would offer some hope to the travel industry, which racked up billions of dollars in losses as tourists and businesspeople canceled trips in the last three months because of the coronavirus epidemic.
After cratering in April, the number of travelers and airline and airport employees filtering through the Transportation Security Administration’s airport checkpoints has steadily climbed in recent weeks. The low point was April 14, when the agency screened fewer than 90,000 people, just 4 percent of those screened the same date last year. On Sunday, the agency screened more than 440,000 people, about 17 percent of last year’s number and the best day since March.
Investors appear to have noticed those numbers, and airline stock prices have surged. American Airlines is up nearly 90 percent since Monday morning last week, United Airlines is more than 70 percent higher, and Delta Air Lines is up more than 45 percent.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
Britain’s power system has been free of electricity generated by coal, the fuel that produces the highest carbon-dioxide emissions, since April 9, according to National Grid ESO, which operates the network. The system’s record-breaking coal-free streak, now reaching two months, is a result of the economic lockdown designed to curb transmission of the virus.
Movie theaters in California could reopen as soon as Friday if they limit auditorium capacity to 25 percent, according to guidelines released on Monday by the California Department of Public Health. County public health officials must still give their approval. Los Angeles and its suburbs make up the nation’s No. 1 moviegoing market by ticket sales.
Dunkin’ Donuts said on Monday that it planned to hire up to 25,000 new workers at its franchises to deal with an influx of customers as states start to reopen. Dunkin’, which has 8,500 restaurants in the United States, said about 90 percent of its locations were now open.
Reporting was contributed by Liz Alderman, Brooks Barnes, Niraj Chokshi, Stanley Reed, Jason Karaian, Peter Eavis, Jack Ewing, Kevin Granville, Mohammed Hadi, Jeanna Smialek and Carlos Tejada.