Live Stock Market Updates During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Live Stock Market Updates During the Coronavirus Pandemic

A ‘not welcome’ sign won’t help: Companies react with anger to visa restrictions.

President Trump on Monday suspended new work visas through at least the end of the year. The sweeping order denies employment permits for hundreds of thousands of skilled foreign workers, like programmers. Seasonal hospitality workers and work-study students are also affected.

The president cited the pandemic, saying that the visa programs “pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”

The business world reacted with anger. “Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,” said Thomas Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Technology firms, which account for the bulk of H-1B visas, were particularly aghast. “This is a full-frontal attack on American innovation and our nation’s ability to benefit from attracting talent from around the world,” said Todd Schulte of FWD.us, a pro-immigration advocacy group for big tech companies.

Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, was “disappointed” by the decision:

In a statement, Amazon said that “preventing high skilled professionals from entering the country and contributing to America’s economic recovery puts American’s global competitiveness at risk.”

Facebook said “highly-skilled visa holders play a critical role in driving innovation — at Facebook and at organizations across the country — and that’s something we should encourage, not restrict.”

The chairman of Twitter, Patrick Pichette (who is Canadian), suggested an alternative: “A message to all you H-1B seekers; just look to the North, where we welcome you (and your family) with open arms.”

Here are the workers and industries affected by the ban.

According to government data, the suspended visa categories accounted for about 600,000 workers in 2019.

A skilled-worker visa, the H-1B is used by U.S. employers to fill roles in tech, finance, accounting and other specialized fields. New H-1B visas are capped at 85,000 a year, and about three-quarters are used by technology companies. There were 189,847 workers on H-1Bs in 2019.

The H-2B visa is used by U.S. employers for temporary nonagricultural jobs, such as cooks, landscapers and groundskeeping staff, cleaners and forestry and conservation workers. There were 97,623 workers on such visas last year. Officials said there would be exemptions for food processing workers under President Trump’s executive order.

The H-4 allows spouses and families of H-1B and H-2B visa holders to live in the United States.

The J visa category is for exchange program applicants coming to the United States to study or work, including au pairs, interns, camp counselors and researchers. There were an estimated 230,000 people on J visas in 2019. Two administration officials suggested that parents could seek waivers to the ban on au pairs.

The L visa is for international companies who want to transfer managers or executives to U.S. branches for monthslong or yearslong stints. There were 76,988 such visas in 2019.

Monday’s order also extends a 60-day prohibition on the issuance of green cards to most foreigners looking to live in the United States that the president ordered in April.

Administration officials said the president’s order would not affect people outside the United States who already have valid visas or seasonal farm workers, whose annual numbers have ranged from a low of about 50,000 to a high of about 250,000 in the past 15 years, the New York Times’s Michael D. Shear and Miriam Jordan reported. There will be a narrow exception under Mr. Trump’s ban for certain medical workers dealing with coronavirus research, officials said.

Two prominent Democrats in the Senate are questioning how meatpacking companies could justify exporting record amounts to China in April while warning of an impending shortage of pork and beef across the United States.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker sent a letter late Monday to the chief executives of Smithfield, Tyson, Cargill and JBS, criticizing their China exports at the same time they were lobbying the Trump administration to keep their plants open amid the pandemic because they wanted to keep feeding Americans.

The senators said the companies were putting meat workers’ lives in danger, while also raising food prices for American consumers.

“This pattern of behavior raises questions about whether you are living up to your commitments to the workers who produce your pork and beef; the communities in which you operate, and the nation’s consumers that rely on your products to feed their families,’’ the senators wrote.

The letter was prompted by a report in The New York Times last week detailing how pork exports to China totaled a record 129,000 tons in April, as the American meat industry took advantage of surging and profitable demand from that Asian country.

The meat companies say much of the meat had been produced weeks ahead of when it was shipped to China in April and before packing plants became hot spots for the virus. After President Trump signed an executive order in late April to keep the plants operating, some of the large meat companies say they have switched their production to better meet domestic demand.

Stocks on Wall Street climbed along with global markets, as investors zeroed in on signs of economic recovery and the prospect for another round of stimulus spending by the government.

The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent, after having climbed about 0.7 percent on Monday. As they have done for several days recently, technology stocks fared even better than the broader market, with the Nasdaq composite on track to return to its record highs as Apple climbed more than 3 percent.

The gains came after a turbulent night for financial markets around the world, after one of President Trump’s advisers seemed to suggest that a trade deal between the United States and China had been scrapped. But after Mr. Trump took to Twitter, and his surrogates appeared on television to clarify the statement, stocks quickly recovered.

Lifting sentiment were initial surveys of corporate purchasing managers that echoed other signals of a rebound underway in the United States, Britain and Europe. The IHS Markit composite purchasing managers index for the United States rose to 46.8 in June, up from 37 in May. A reading under 50 still signals economic contraction.

“The second quarter started with an alarming rate of collapse but output and jobs are now falling at far more modest rates in both the manufacturing and service sectors,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement accompanying the data. “The improvement will fuel hopes that the economy can return to growth in the third quarter.”

But at Square, a payments business where Mr. Dorsey is also chief executive, he is facing a growing chorus of unhappy customers.

Thousands of small enterprises that use Square to process credit card transactions — including plumbers, legal consultants and construction firms — have complained that the company recently began holding back 20 to 30 percent of the money collected from customers. The withholdings came with little warning, they said, and Square asserted the right to hang on to the money for the next four months.

Square told them that it was doing this to protect against risky transactions or customers who demanded their money back. But several affected businesses provided documents to The New York Times showing they had not had any returns or risk flags.

“It may not be the coronavirus that puts us out of business but actually the greed of Square that breaks the camel’s back,” said Jesse Larsen, the owner of PennyWise Contracting, a construction company in Olympia, Wash.

A Square spokesman said the company would publish a blog post on Tuesday to explain its new “rolling reserve” policy, the one that some merchants have experienced.

Masayoshi Son, the billionaire who controls the investment giant SoftBank, got one step closer to offloading his stake in the long-troubled wireless carrier Sprint.

With companies pressing to figure out how to safely reopen workplaces, makers of everything from office furniture to smart ventilation systems are rushing to sell them products and services marketed as solutions.

Some companies, like makers of thermal cameras that sense skin temperature, are rebranding their wares as virus-containment fever-scanning products. Others are creating entirely new services.


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