Business Briefs – April 30, 2020

Trump Predicts ‘Spectacular’ Rebound As Economy Plunges

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trying to dispel economic gloom, President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’s anticipating a major rebound in the coming months and a “spectacular” 2021.

While economists are warning of serious long-term damage as the country plunges into recession because of the coronavirus, Trump is predicting a strong fourth quarter thanks to pent-up demand.

“I think we can actually surpass where we were,” Mr. Trump told reporters, while allowing he was relying on his gut.

30 million Have Sought U.S. Unemployment Aid Since Virus Hit

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the U.S. economy slid further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s.

Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the six weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors and slash their workforces. That is more people than live in the New York and Chicago metropolitan areas combined, and it’s by far the worst string of layoffs on record. It adds up to more than one in six American workers.

U.S. Consumer Spending Plunges Record 7.5%, Reflecting Virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer spending plunged 7.5% in March, reflecting the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic as Americans complied with stay-at-home orders.

The Commerce Department said that the spending decline was the sharpest monthly drop on records that go back to 1959, exceeding the previous record, a decline of 2.1% in January 1987.

Personal incomes also fell sharply last month, declining by 2% with wages and salaries, the largest part of incomes, falling by 3.1% as millions of Americans started getting lay-off notices.

Apple Pinched by Pandemic; Profit, Iphone Sales Decline

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Apple’s profit dipped slightly while revenues rose in the January-March quarter, reflecting early fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that shut down its factories and then forced hundreds of Apple retail stores to close.

The results give the first sign of how one of the world’s best-known companies is faring as the economy plunges into its first recession in more than a decade.

The iPhone maker’s revenue edged up by 1% from the same time last year to $58.3 billion. To no one’s surprise, the iPhone was the company’s hardest hit segment, with sales for the device falling 7% from the same time last year. Apple’s profits fell to $11.2 billion, a 2% decline from last year.

Fed Expands Main Street Lending Program for Businesses

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it was expanding a major lending program to provide support for businesses struggling to cope with the economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fed said that it was expanding the scope and eligibility of its Main Street Lending Program which is designed to provide up to $600 billion in loans to small and mid-size businesses that have been harmed by the pandemic and the efforts to contain it.

The Fed said it was allowing businesses with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in annual revenues to qualify for loans. That is up from earlier limit of 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue.

The minimum loan size is being reduced to $500,000, down from an original minimum loan size of $1 million.

Amazon Profit Falls as Pandemic-Related Costs Rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon’s profit fell 29% in the first quarter as its costs for shipping millions of packages to home-bound customers rose. But the online retail behemoth said its sales soared as more people opt to shop online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said the company will likely spend at least $4 billion during the second quarter in order to speed up delivery times and buy masks and other protection equipment for workers in its warehouses and Whole Foods supermarkets.

Shares of Amazon.com Inc. fell about 5% in after-hours trading Thursday following the release of the earnings report.

Workers Must Risk Infection or Losing Unemployment Payments

ATLANTA (AP) — Some of the millions of American workers laid off because of the coronavirus are beginning to face a tough choice — return to work and risk infection, or stay home and risk losing unemployment payments.

The decision is most pressing in states where governors have started allowing businesses such as restaurants to reopen with social-distancing restrictions.

Tyler Price, 26, was called back to his job at Del Frisco’s Grille in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood. Tennessee allowed restaurants to open dining rooms at 50% capacity, with servers wearing masks and being tested for fever. The design of the unemployment system adds to the pressure. If an employer calls back laid-off workers, they must report to work or are likely to lose their benefits.