Live Stock Market Tracker and Economy Updates

Live Stock Market Tracker and Economy Updates

Wall Street struggled to hold on to its gains Friday, and a rebound that had lifted the S&P 500 by as much as 3 percent faded, as investors were confronted with more warnings about the pace of economic recovery.

The S&P 500 was wavering between gains and losses by the afternoon, a day after the index recorded a 5.8 percent plunge, its sharpest drop since mid-March. Oil futures also dipped, adding to its losses from the day before.

Financial markets are suffering from a shift in sentiment this week, as investors have seemed to acknowledge the risks to the economy from pandemic-related shutdowns earlier this year and the prospect of a second-wave of coronavirus infections as government’s lift restrictions on activity, The New York Times’s Matt Phillips reports.

Confidence in a quick recovery and return to normal was rattled after the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, warned that the depth of the downturn and pace of the recovery remained “extraordinarily uncertain.”

“The idea that Covid is fully behind us, or that a V-shaped recovery is in front of us, were put on hold” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Conn.

Even if the rise in cases doesn’t lead to another large-scale lockdown, analysts say it does dash hopes for a return to a more normal environment over the summer and makes a full rebound in particularly exposed industries less likely.

Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

But in a sign of Hertz’s dire financial straits, the company has asked for permission to end leases for more than 144,000 vehicles that it says it can no longer afford.

Twitter said on Thursday that China has stepped up its effort to spread misinformation on the platform by creating tens of thousands of fake accounts that discussed the Communist Party’s response to the virus and the Hong Kong protests.

Twitter said it had discovered and removed 23,750 accounts that were “highly engaged” in a coordinated effort to spread misinformation, and 150,000 others that were dedicated to amplifying China’s messages through likes and retweets. Those findings are consistent with a recent New York Times analysis that detected hundreds of similar accounts.

The Trump administration has sparred with Beijing over the pandemic, saying that China mishandled the outbreak, which is believed to have started in the city of Wuhan. Chinese officials on Twitter have fought back, suggesting without evidence that the virus originated in the United States.

Twitter announced its finding on the same day that Zoom, a video-chat company based in San Jose, Calif., that rose to fame during the outbreak, acknowledged that it had briefly blocked the account of a U.S.-based Chinese human-rights leader at the Chinese government’s request. The activist, Zhou Fengsuo, had used the platform to organize a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown between activists in the United States and China.

Zoom restored Mr. Zhou’s account on Wednesday, but the suspension highlights the company’s delicate balancing act between free-speech principles and the power of China’s huge censorship machine.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that he was “very seriously considering” backing another round of economic stimulus payments to Americans as part of another relief package.

The Trump administration is considering a range of measures to inject more money into the economy, which is facing its deepest downturn since the Great Depression as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion pandemic relief bill last month, but Senate Republicans and the White House have dismissed that as dead on arrival.

Negotiations between the White House and lawmakers are expected to get underway next month. Mr. Mnuchin has said he would prefer additional stimulus to focus on specific industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, but direct payments to individuals would have the benefit of raising consumer spending more broadly.

“It’s a very efficient way for us to deliver money into the economy,” Mr. Mnuchin said in a briefing with reporters on Thursday, noting that for people who still have jobs, the money is akin to a tax cut.

Mr. Mnuchin said he remained optimistic that the economy would rebound during the second half of the year and he played down gloomy projections from the Federal Reserve this week that predicted that the unemployment rate could be close to 10 percent at the end of the year. The Treasury secretary said that traditional economic models are poorly equipped to predict the impact of a pandemic.

The Treasury secretary said he believed that it was unlikely that the economy would be shut down again if there was a second wave of the virus, but he acknowledged that there was more work to be done to get businesses back on track. He pointed to the need for additional incentives such as tax credits to get firms to hire workers and tax deductions that would entice workers to eat out at restaurants.

“High unemployment is unacceptable,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “We have more work to do.”

In Europe, ‘corona cycleways’ are becoming the new post-confinement commute.

As France eased its coronavirus lockdowns last month, a small army of street workers fanned out across Paris in the dark of night. They dropped traffic barriers along car lanes and painted yellow bicycle symbols onto the asphalt. By morning, miles of pop-up “corona cycleways” had been laid, teeming with people heading back to work.

As European cities emerge from quarantines, bicycles are playing a central role in getting the work force moving again. Governments are trying to revive their economies from a deep recession, but cannot fully rely on public transportation to get workers to their jobs because of the need for social distancing. In urban areas at least, bicycles are suddenly an unlikely component to restarting economic growth.

In Europe, where many cities have integrated cycling as a mode of transportation, the pandemic is speeding up an ecological transition to limit car traffic and cut pollution, especially as new research draws links between dirty air and coronavirus death rates.

Britain, France, Italy and their neighbors are accelerating hundreds of millions of euros in investments on new biking infrastructure and schemes to get people pedaling.

“This crisis has made clear that we need to change the way we live, work and move,” said Morten Kabell, chief executive of the European Cyclists’ Federation. “In the era of social distancing, people are wary of using public transportation, and cities can’t take more cars. So they are looking to the bike as a natural mode of mobility for the future.”

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