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Stocks open higher on Wall Street after deal on virus aid – Business News – Castanet.net

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Stocks are peeking higher in early morning trading on Wall Street Wednesday, as indexes look to lock in their first back-to-back gain since the market’s brutal sell-off began last month on worries about the coronavirus outbreak.

The S&P 500 was up slighlty in the first few minutes of trading, a day after packing a year’s worth of gains into Tuesday on expectations that Washington was close to a $2 trillion deal to aid the economy. The Dow was up about 1%, largely because of a huge gain in one stock, Boeing. A day earlier, it surged 11.4%, its biggest gain since 1933.

Congress and the White House did indeed announce an agreement early Wednesday, with the Senate possibly voting on it in the afternoon. Investors were anxiously waiting for this kind of aid, which will help blunt the blow to the economy as businesses shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Even optimists say the package provides just the second leg of three that markets need to regain lasting confidence. The Federal Reserve and central banks are also offering tremendous support by cutting interest rates and supporting lending markets, but investors say they need to see the number of new infections peak before they can feel comfortable knowing how deep the looming economic downturn will be.

With widening swaths of the economy shutting down and layoffs mounting, economists are sure a steep drop-off is coming. What’s unsure is how long it will last.

That uncertainty has led to wild swings in the stock market over the last month.

The S&P 500 was up less than 1%, as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 211, or 1%.

Earlier on Wednesday, futures for the S&P 500 and other indexes were down, indicating losses could be on the way when trading opened.

Canada’s main stock index posted a triple-digit advance at the start of trading, adding to gains Tuesday that saw it advance more than 1,000 points or nearly 12 per cent.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 206.47 points at 12,777.55.

The Canadian dollar traded for 69.88 cents US compared with an average of 69.01 cents US on Tuesday.

European markets initially jumped to strong gains, but they faded as the day progressed. Germany’s DAX was down 0.8%, and the French CAC 40 was up the same amount.

Even earlier on Wednesday, Asian markets surged to big gains following the big U.S. day. Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 8%, South Korea’s Kospi rose 5.9% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 3.8%.

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Oil prices climb before OPEC+ talks, Asian shares falter – Aljazeera.com

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Oil prices climbed on Thursday, hours before the world’s largest oil producers are scheduled to meet to discuss output cuts as the coronavirus pandemic ravages demand.

Brent crude futures rose 2.5 percent or 81 cents to $33.65 as of 00:34 GMT after touching a high of $33.90, adding to gains in the previous session.

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United States crude futures were up 4.3 percent, or $1.08, at $26.17, having climbed as much as 6 percent the day before.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, are set to convene a video conference meeting on Thursday.

The meeting is expected to be more successful than their gathering in March, where they failed to agree to extend supply cuts and triggered a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Hopes of an agreement to cut between 10 million and 15 million barrels per day (bpd) rose after media reports suggested Russia was ready to reduce its output by 1.6 million bpd and Algeria’s energy minister said he expected a “fruitful” meeting.

“I think there’ll be a deal, which will bring a bit of cheer in the short run. Then everyone’s attention will refocus on the fundamentals. The fundamentals are appalling,” Lachlan Shaw, head of commodity research at National Australia Bank told Reuters news agency.

Global demand for oil has shrunk significantly as the coronavirus outbreak triggered travel restrictions and temporary business closures. In India, the world’s third-biggest consumer, oil demand has collapsed as much as 70 percent, according to officials at the country’s refiners.

In contrast to oil prices, Asian shares were mixed on Thursday after a three-day rally, with investors mulling the spread of the coronavirus and when economies will be able to ramp up again.

Shares in Tokyo dipped with the Nikkei declining 0.23 percent in early trade, but were higher in Sydney and Seoul. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 1.51 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.3 percent.

In China, blue chips declined 0.47 percent while the broader Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.19 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was also in the red, down 1.17 percent. 

US S&P 500 Index futures edged up after the gauge jumped 3.4 percent on Wednesday as Joe Biden emerged as the Democratic frontrunner in the US presidential race, bringing its rise from the March low to more than 20 percent.

But investors are still looking at numbers of new coronavirus cases and deaths for clues on where the global economy is headed.

“It’s all a question of when the economy reopens and how quickly that happens,” Nancy Davis, a chief investment officer with Quadratic Capital Management LLC told Bloomberg. “We aren’t out of the woods.”

While the White House’s top health advisers are developing medical criteria for safely reopening the US economy in coming weeks should these trends hold steady, the coronavirus killed a record number of victims in the United Kingdom and Belgium, as well as in the hard-hit states of New York and New Jersey. The number of new cases in Italy and Spain crept up after several days of declines.

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WestJet to rehire nearly 6,400 workers with help of federal wage subsidy – CBC.ca

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WestJet says 6,400 workers will be brought back onto its payroll once the federal government has approved an emergency wage subsidy program.

In a statement Wednesday night, WestJet CEO Ed Sims cautioned that there might not be enough work for the rehired employees, but noted “it does help them make ends meet.

“We will be communicating with those WestJetters who are affected by this decision as soon as we can,” said Sims.

Last month, WestJet announced it was cutting roughly half of its 14,000 employees with the elimination of 6,900 positions.

Canada’s airline industry has seen a dramatic reduction in demand due to lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

The Calgary-based airline’s move to rehire its employees follows a similar move by Air Canada, which announced Wednesday that it would rehire 16,500 laid-off workers with assistance from the same federal wage subsidy program. 

The federal government’s emergency wage subsidy — originally targeted only at small- and medium-sized businesses — was expanded earlier in April to cover a 75-per-cent wage subsidy for Canadian companies that had lost 30 per cent of revenue due to the pandemic.

WestJet said it can’t guarantee that all employees will be coming back to work in the short-term, but the new subsidy will help out.

After announcing layoffs in late March, WestJet executives took a 50-per-cent pay cut and vice-presidents and directors took a 25-per-cent cut.

The airline also said it would reduce the number of flights offered in Canada by about half due to a reduced demand for travel.

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Oil Prices Surge with Production Cut Anticipation By – Investing.com

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© Reuters.

By Gina Lee

Investing.com – Oil prices built on the momentum from the previous session as the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia seems to be nearing a truce.

Russia said overnight that it was willing to reduce output by around 1.6 barrels daily, or 15%.  The announcement saw WTI futures surging to almost 12% as the session closed.

International  rose 2.62% to $33.7 by 10:1PM ET (3:19 AM GMT) and U.S.  jumped 3.71% to $26.02.

As the oil industry continues to grapple with a supply glut, with the COVID-19 pandemic shrinking demand, Russia’s declaration comes at an opportune time. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said overnight that the U.S. crude oil inventory increased by 15.2 million barrels for the week ending April 3, against analyst expectations of a 9.37-million-barrel build.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) also estimated a build of 11.9 million barrels yesterday.

Investors are waiting to see if Russia will hold to its word at OPEC+’s virtual meeting later in the day.

“The coming extraordinary producing-countries meeting is the only hope in the horizon for the market that could prevent a total price collapse and production shut-ins,” Rystad Energy’s head of oil markets Bjornar Tonhaugen told CNBC.

“At the moment, prices are so volatile that any news or leaks about the direction of the negotiations could move them [prices] either way. As you have seen in recent days, price swings from gains to losses and back are not unusual in such times,” he added.

But some investors took a more skeptical view.

“OPEC+ is trying mightily to cobble together a sizable production cut, and they are in full spin mode to try and rally prices,” Again Capital’s John Kilduff told CNBC.

[OPEC’s meeting] will be a make-or-break moment for the oil market. The math on a 10 million barrel per day cutback, which is the minimum necessary to stabilize the situation, is almost impossible to compute. I expect a bad day for OPEC+ tomorrow,” he added.

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