TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan lifted all coronavirus-related curbs on domestic travel on Friday, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling on people to go sightseeing or attend concerts and other events to help the nation’s economy bounce back from a pandemic recession.
Japan began lifting its pandemic lockdown in May as coronavirus infections fell. The latest easing on Thursday comes after the end of an emergency declaration that allowed people to return to work and for bars and restaurants implementing social distancing measures to reopen.
“I would like people, while observing social distancing, to go out on sightseeing trips. We would like you to make an effort to engage in social and economic activity,” Abe said in an address to the country late on Thursday.
The end of a government advisory for people to stay put in infected prefectures or avoid traveling to them should help hotels, resorts and areas that rely heavily on tourism.
Any recovery, however, may be slow because many people are still avoiding crowds and most travel to Japan is still restricted. Only 1,700 foreigners arrived in Japan in May, the lowest number for that time of year since 1964, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Japan’s two big airlines, ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines Co., say they are restarting some domestic flights as demand picks up, but both say flight schedules by July will still only be half of what they had planned before the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to ending the domestic travel advisory, Japan is also allowing up to 1,000 people to gather at indoor and outdoor events. Japanese professional baseball teams will also restart games on Friday, although spectators will be locked out.
Japan by Thursday had recorded 17,789 cases of the novel coronavirus with 948 deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Biden offers 'build back better' approach to reviving economy – BNN
Joe Biden launched his plan on Thursday to revive the economy from the coronavirus-related recession with a promise to “build back better” than what existed before the crisis.
Offering a contrast with President Donald Trump’s insistence that the economy is bouncing back, the Democratic nominee framed his economic agenda for the general election. The economy is the one policy area on which he lags Trump in public opinion polls.
One part of the plan is intended to foster manufacturing and encourage innovation, adopting some ideas from his progressive primary rivals but avoiding the big-ticket proposals like the Green New Deal.
“The challenges faced today are among the biggest in our history,” he said at a metalworks factory in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, a few miles away from his childhood home in Scranton, a place that’s been synonymous with the blue-collar workers who helped Trump win the state in 2016.
“I have no illusion how tough the road ahead is going to be for our country,” Biden added.
But he said he’s still “an optimist” because the American people are up to those challenges if they follow his lead.
“I see a different America than Trump. One that despite all our flaws and shortcomings and failures is still, after more than two centuries, dedicated to equality, liberty and human decency,” he said.
Biden also said the idea that U.S. companies only bear responsibility to their shareholders is “an absolute farce” because corporations have a duty to workers and their country.
“It’s time corporate America pay their fair share of taxes,” Biden said, reiterating his plan to raise the current corporate tax rate back to the 28 per cent it was during the Obama administration from the current 21 per cent.
The former vice president’s economic plan is divided into four areas, the first of which he addressed in some detail on Thursday: a push to buy American and create manufacturing jobs, costing at least $700 billion; building infrastructure and clean energy; advancing racial equity; and modernizing the “caring” economy such as child-care and elder-care workers and domestic aides.
He said he would roll out his plans to rebuild U.S. infrastructure and emphasize clean energy next week.
Biden covered a wide range of issues, from what he called Trump’s lack of empathy for people suffering from the current crises to the removal of Confederate monuments. He took from his standard stump speech his admiration for the middle-class and unions, which he says “built this country.”
On Thursday, he proposed US$400 billion in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers over the course of his first term — based on a proposal that his primary opponent Senator Elizabeth Warren offered — as well as US$300 billion for federally funded research and development. In all, the Biden campaign estimates that its proposals on manufacturing and buying American will create 5 million jobs.
He didn’t offer a plan to pay for these initiatives.
“When the federal government uses taxpayers’ money we should use it to buy American products and support American jobs,” he said of his buy American plan.
Steve Moore, a conservative economist and informal adviser to Trump, said the plan represents “a radical plan of wealth redistribution, not wealth creation.”
“I believe if this plan were implemented all of the economic gains from the Trump era would be erased and we would be thrust into a second great depression that would hurt the poor and minorities most,” he said in a statement.
There was small progress toward recovery in the jobs numbers released Thursday. Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. declined last week by more than projected, easing concerns of a renewed downturn in the labor market after several large states reported an increase in coronavirus cases.
Trump has made buy-American policies and protecting the U.S. steel and aluminum industry a centerpiece of his administration but some domestic manufacturers have complained his actions didn’t go far enough.
Most of Wall Street wilts amid worries on virus, economy – Yahoo Canada Finance
NEW YORK — Most of Wall Street wilted Thursday on worries that the economy’s recent improvements may be set to fade as coronavirus cases keep climbing.
The S&P 500 lost 0.6%, with three in four stocks within the index falling. The sharpest drops hit oil companies, airlines and other stocks whose fortunes are most closely tied to a reopening and strengthening economy. Treasury yields also sank in another sign of increased caution.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 361.19 points, or 1.4%, to 25,706.09, while the 17.89 point fall for the S&P 500 to 3,152.05 was just its second loss in the last eight days.
Smaller stocks sank more than the rest of the market, which often happens when investors are downgrading their expectations for the economy. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks lost 28.48, or 2%, to 1,398.92.
The Nasdaq composite was an outlier as investors continue to bet big tech-oriented stocks can keep growing almost regardless of the economy’s strength. It added 55.25, or 0.5%, to 10,547.75 and hit another record.
“The broad equity market is navigating through a zone of uncertainty,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
“There are ample reasons for caution,” he said. “Clearly there’s uncertainty surrounding the impact and duration of this virus.”
Thursday’s headline economic report showed that a little more than 1.3 million workers filed for unemployment claims last week. It’s an astoundingly high number, but it’s also down from 1.4 million the prior week and from a peak of nearly 6.9 million in late March.
The improvements help validate investors’ earlier optimism that the economy can recover as states and other governments relax restrictions put in place earlier this year to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Such optimism helped the S&P 500 rally back to within 7% of its record, after earlier being down nearly 34%.
But economists point to a troubling slowdown in the pace of improvements, including moderating declines in the four-week average of jobless claims. Further gains for the job market are going to be more difficult, said Patrick Schaffer, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. The U.S. unemployment rate is currently 11.1%.
“The initial jump was the easy part,” he said. “The reality is the labour market continues to face enormous headwinds.”
Investors are worried that worsening infection levels across swaths of the U.S. South and West and in other global hotspots could derail the budding recovery. Some states are rolling back their reopenings, while others are ordering people arriving from hotspots to quarantine.
“When the restrictions were relaxed in the beginning part of June, you saw parts of the tangible economy do really well,” Schaffer said. “A lot of that has been unwound as we’ve seen a resurgence in case count and some restrictions being put in place.”
Markets have been quick to react to infection and hospitalization rates in Florida and other big Sun Belt states in particular. Thursday’s losses for stocks accelerated after Florida reported the largest daily increase in deaths yet from the pandemic, with its cumulative death toll topping 4,000.
Such concerns helped push Treasury yields lower. The yield on the 10-year note, which tends to move with investors’ expectations for the economy and inflation, sank to 0.60% from 0.65% late Wednesday.
The price of gold also held above $1,800 per ounce. Gold tends to rise when investors are worried about the economy, and on Wednesday it touched its highest price since September 2011. After flipping between small gains and losses, gold for delivery in August dipped $16.80 to settle at $1,803.80.
In the stock market, the sharpest losses hit companies whose profits tend to rise and fall most closely with the strength of the economy. Energy stocks dropped 4.9% for the biggest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Exxon Mobil sank 4.1%, and ConocoPhillips fell 6.6%. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped $1.28 to settle at $39.62 per barrel.
Financial stocks were also particularly weak, with JPMorgan Chase down 2.2% and Citigroup down 2.8%, as a struggling economy raises the threat of borrowers failing to repay their loans.
Airlines and other companies that desperately need the pandemic to ease so customers can return also slumped. United Airlines lost 7.3%, retailer Kohl’s sank 7.2% and mall-owner Simon Property Group fell 5.3%.
Walgreens Boots Alliance dropped 7.8% for one of the biggest losses in the S&P 500 after it said it lost $1.7 billion in the latest quarter as the pandemic kept many of its customers around the world at home.
Companies across the country are preparing to report their second-quarter results in upcoming weeks, and forecasts are uniformly dismal.
Stocks in overseas markets were mixed, though China continued its huge run. Stocks in Shanghai added another 1.4%, bringing its gain for July to 15.6% and further stoking worries that speculators are in charge of the market.
Stan Choe, Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, The Associated Press
U.S. economy may be stalling out as viral outbreak worsens – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, July 9, 2020 3:47PM EDT
WASHINGTON – The U.S. economy is stumbling as the viral outbreak intensifies, threatening to slow hiring and deepening the uncertainty for employees, consumers and companies across the country.
Coronavirus case counts are rising in 38 states, and the nation as a whole has been shattering single-day records for new confirmed cases. In six states representing one-third of the economy – Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and Texas – governors are reversing their reopening plans. Reopening efforts are on pause in 15 other states.
The reversals are keeping layoffs elevated and threatening to weaken hiring. More than 1.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, down from 1.4 million the previous week but still roughly double the pre-pandemic weekly record. Applications had fallen steadily in April and May but have barely declined in the past month.
Jobless claims “are stalled out at a new normal of over a million new claims every week,” said Daniel Zhao, an economist at Glassdoor. “The virus is in the driver’s seat and we’re along for the ride until the current public health crisis is resolved.”
Some economists have even warned that a so-called “double-dip” recession, in which the economy shrinks again after rebounding, could develop. Consumers, the primary driver of U.S. economic growth, are pulling back on spending in restaurants and bars, especially in the hardest-hit states. Some small businesses are closing, either under government orders or because of a lack of customers, according to private data.
Several companies have warned in recent days that more layoffs are coming. Levi’s, the iconic jeans maker, said it will cut 700 corporate jobs. United Airlines has warned 36,000 of its employees – nearly half its workforce – that they could lose their jobs in October. (Airlines aren’t allowed to cut jobs until then as a condition of accepting billions of dollars in government rescue aid.) Motorcycle maker Harley Davidson said it will eliminate 700 corporate jobs.
The pandemic drove Walgreens to a deep loss in the most recent quarter, with customers staying home or limiting shopping to essential supplies from grocery stores. Walgreens will cut 4,000 jobs at its pharmacy chain Boots in the United Kingdom. Bed Bath & Beyond said it will close 200 stores over the next two years as its sales have slid.
The uncertainty fanned by the pandemic has led many CEOs to abandon their forecasts for second-quarter results. Just as with the economy, forecasters say it could take years for corporate earnings to return to the levels they were at before the pandemic.
With reported viral cases surging, restaurant visits are falling in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, which together account for half of new confirmed infections. This week, in Arizona, restaurant traffic was down 65% from a year earlier, worse than the 50% year-over-year drop two weeks earlier, according to data from reservation app OpenTable. In Florida, traffic was down 57%, compared with 45% two weeks before.
Last week, applications for U.S. unemployment benefits spiked in Texas, Nevada, Tennessee and Louisiana – states where confirmed cases of the virus are intensifying. They also jumped in New Jersey and New York, where the pandemic is mostly under control, but where reopening steps have been postponed.
Applications dropped in California and Florida, though in California they remained high, with more than 267,000 claims. That is more people than were applying each week for unemployment benefits in the entire country before the pandemic hit. Jobless claims also declined in Michigan and Colorado.
The total number of people receiving jobless benefits fell 700,000 to 18 million. That suggests that some companies are continuing to rehire a limited number of workers. An additional 1 million people sought benefits last week under a separate program for self-employed and gig workers that has made them eligible for aid for the first time. These figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, so the government doesn’t include them in the official count.
In New Jersey, about 4,000 people had expected to return to their jobs last week at casinos in Atlantic City, after Gov. Phil Murphy said they could fully reopen. But Murphy later said the casinos couldn’t reopen their restaurants and bars because indoor dining was too risky. Employees who had hoped to return to work feel whipsawed.
“I wanted this nightmare to go away,” said Mineli Polanco, a beverage server at Borgata, a hotel and casino. “That first call was such a relief: things were going back to normal. Then the second call came, and it was a new nightmare.”
Signs of a weakening jobs picture suggest a turnaround from last week’s jobs report for June, which showed a solid gain of 4.8 million jobs and an unemployment rate that fell to 11.1% from 13.3%. But the June jobs report reflected surveys of Americans that were conducted in the middle of that month – before the pandemic flared up again. And even counting that hiring gain, the economy has regained only about one-third of the jobs that vanished in March and April.
Credit card data from both Bank of America and J.P.Morgan Chase show that spending has slipped in the past two weeks, even in states that don’t have sharp outbreaks.
“This suggests that renewed fears about the virus, rather than government restrictions, are driving the pullback in activity,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, a forecasting firm.
Among retailers, the number of shifts worked changed little last week after steady increases in previous weeks, according to data from Kronos, which makes scheduling software. David Gilbertson, a vice-president at Kronos, said this indicates that consumer demand in many cases hasn’t picked up enough to justify more employees.
“Everything that’s going to be open is open,” Gilbertson said. “Now, we just need more people to come in and start spending money before things can pick up again.”
The renewed threat of job losses is arising just as a federal program that provides $600 a week in unemployment benefits, on top of whatever jobless aid each state provides, is to expire at the end of this month. Congressional leaders have said they will take up some form of a new rescue package when lawmakers return later this month from a recess.
Administration officials have expressed support for additional stimulus. But Senate Republicans have opposed extending the $600 a week in unemployment benefits, mainly on the ground that it discourages laid-off people from returning to work. House Democrats have pushed to extend the $600 a week through January.
In an interview Thursday on CNBC, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that the administration might support an extension of supplemental unemployment aid but at a reduced level.
“We’re going to make sure people are (incentivized) to go back to jobs,” Mnuchin said.
AP Writer Wayne Parry in Atlantic City contributed to this report.
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