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 NEWS: MARKETWATCH MARKETPULSE
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   NEWS: MARKETWATCH MARKETPULSE
MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 28, 2020

COVID-19 case tally: 615,519 cases and at least 28,717 deaths
There are now 615,519 cases of COVID-19 and at least 28,717 people have died, according to aggregated data from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. About 135,735 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus that has sickened people in 176 countries. The U.S now has the most number of cases worldwide, with 104,860 cases and 1,711 deaths. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has 81,996 cases and 3,299 deaths. Italy, which is widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, had 86,498 cases and 9,134 deaths, as of Friday. Spain has 72,248 cases and 5,690 deaths; Germany has 53,340 cases and 399 deaths; and Iran has 35,408 cases and 2,517 deaths.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 28, 2020

BlackRock to waive fees for running Federal Reserve bond-buying program
BlackRock, the massive asset manager tapped to manage the Federal Reserve's bond purchase stimulus program, will charge no fee, according to a term sheet released late Friday. BlackRock will also credit back the value of all underlying fees and income that it earns on its own exchange-traded funds within the program. "Net fees for BlackRock, including the value of the credit, shall be made public on a regular basis," the term sheet said. The company also pledged to "treat BlackRock-sponsored ETFs on the same neutral footing as third-party ETFs." The terms came after some criticism was directed at the Fed for giving the contract to a well-connected Wall Street firm.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Abbott Labs receives FDA approval for rapid COVID-19 test
Abbott Laboratories said late Friday that it received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a rapid COVID-19 test. Abbott stock rose 2.1% in the extended session Friday. The company said that the molecular point-of-care test can be run with one of Abbot's portable platforms called ID Now and will detect a positive result for COVID-19 in "as little as five minutes" and determine negative results in 13 minutes. The portable testing platform weighs 6.6 pounds and is about the size of a small toaster, the company said, and is "already the most widely available molecular point-of-care testing platform in the U.S. today." Abbott said that it will make the rapid tests available to healthcare providers involved in urgent care next week and is working with the government to determine where they can have the largest impact. The company said that between this and a separate testing platform it will have the capacity for about five million tests a month.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

COVID-19 case tally: 590,594 cases, 26,943 deaths
There are now 590,594 cases of COVID-19 and at least 26,943 people have died, according to aggregated data from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. About 130,865 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus that has sickened people in 176 countries. The U.S now has the most number of cases worldwide, with 100,717 cases and 1,475 deaths. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has 81,897 cases and 3,296 deaths. Italy, which is widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, has 86,498 cases and 9,134 deaths. Spain has 64,059 cases and 4,858 deaths; Germany has 50,178 cases and 321 deaths; and Iran has 32,332 cases and 2,378 deaths.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Apple app available to help Americans determine if they need care for coronavirus
Apple Inc. , in partnership with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Friday released an app and website designed to help Americans determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms. The tool provides CDC recommendations on next steps including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, recommendations on testing, and when to contact a medical provider. The free app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store, Google Play or at www.apple.com/covid19.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Cannabis supplier GrowGeneration reports full-year earnings miss
Cannabis grow supply company GrowGeneration Corp. shares fell 4.5% in the extended session Friday after the company missed the consensus estimates for full-year earnings. The company reported fiscal 2019 net income of $1.9 million, which amounts to 5 cents a share, versus a net loss of $5.1 million, or 22 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Full-year revenue rose to $79.7 million from $29 million in the year-ago period. GrowGeneration reported fourth-quarter sales of $25.4 million versus $9.1 million a year ago; GrowGeneration reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $462,616, which amounts to roughly a penny a share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected full-year earnings of 9 cents a share on sales of $80 million. The company said it expects full-year 2020 revenue of $130 million to $135 million and first-quarter sales of $31.5 million to $32.5 million. Analysts expected first-quarter sales of $27.3 million and full-year revenue of $137.2 million. GrowGeneration said amid the COVID-19 pandemic it is considered an "essential" supplier because it offers products used by the agriculture industry and plans to remain in operation. The company said it had $10.4 million in cash as of March 23. GrowGeneration shares have gained 6.1% this year, as the S&P 500 index has fallen 21.3%. The Cannabis ETF has dropped 32%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

American Airlines cuts flight schedule further, keeps one flight to Hawaii
American Airlines Group Inc. announced late Friday additional capacity cuts.The airline said it will suspend 60% of its capacity in April as compared to the same period in 2019, and is planning to suspend up to 80% of its capacity in May compared to May 2019. American cut service to several cities in Hawaii as the state has imposed a 14-day quarantine order for travelers. It has kept one daily flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, it said. American has extended its its offer to waive change fees for customers who purchase tickets through April 15, it said. Earlier Friday, United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it was considering further capacity cuts for May and June. Virtually all airlines have announced steep cuts in flight schedules as air travel has ground to a near-halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

AMC Networks withdraws Q1 and fiscal 2020 outlooks
AMC Networks Inc. said late Friday it was withdrawing its first quarter 2020 and full-year 2020 guidance due to uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic. The entertainment company also updated investors on its liquidity position, saying that it had $816 million in cash and cash equivalents as of late December, and it has access to a $500 million revolving credit facility. Shares of AMC fell 0.8% in the extended session Friday after ending the regular trading day down 2.7%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

ViacomCBS announces $2.5 billion debt offering
ViacomCBS Inc. late Friday announced a $2.5 billion debt offering, a day after the media giant said it was withdrawing prior guidance to its fiscal 2020 financial results because of coronavirus. ViacomCBS intends to use net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, which may include repayment of outstanding indebtedness. The joint book-running managers for the offering are B.of A. Securities Inc., Goldman Sachs & Co., JP Morgan Securities, and Morgan Stanley & Co. "While ViacomCBS has experienced production delays, the Company has seen increased viewership across its broadcast and cable properties, and is utilizing its deep library of content to mitigate in part the impact of those delays," it said in a filing Thursday. "The Company is also working proactively to offset a portion of anticipated revenue losses through cost-savings initiatives." ViacomCBS shares have plummeted 73% in the last year. The broader S&P 500 index has fallen 10% in the last year.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

BlackRock to waive fees for running bond-buying program
BlackRock, the massive asset manager tapped to manage the Federal Reserve's bond purchase stimulus program, will charge no fee, according to a term sheet released late Friday. BlackRock will also credit back the value of all underlying fees and income that it earns on its own exchange-traded funds within the program. "Net fees for BlackRock, including the value of the credit, shall be made public on a regular basis," the term sheet said. The company also pledged to "treat BlackRock-sponsored ETFs on the same neutral footing as third-party ETFs." The terms came after some criticism was directed at the Fed for giving the contract to a well-connected Wall Street firm.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

SeaWorld Entertainment to furlough more than 90% of staff as of April 1 because of coronavirus
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. late Friday said it has temporarily furloughed more than 90% of its employees as of April 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic. In an 8-K filing, the company said furloughed employees will not be paid after March 31. "Subject to local regulations, these employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits," the filing said. "The furlough period is uncertain at this time due to the temporary park closures and will be reassessed as business conditions dictate." Earlier this month, SeaWorld announced it would temporarily close all of its theme parks through the end of March. Earlier Friday, Walt Disney Co. said its theme parks in California and Florida would remain shuttered as well because of COVID-19. SeaWorld shares are down 47% in the last year. The broader S&P 500 index is down 10% in the last year.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Sysco inks deal with Kroger for furloughed worker jobs
Sysco Corp. said late Friday that it forged an agreement that would allow its furloughed workers to temporarily get jobs at some distribution centers run by Kroger Co. . Sysco stock was flat in the extended session, as Kroger Co. shares fell 0.5%. Sysco said that it entered into the agreement due to the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on food service demand. The Kroger jobs will be for 30 days, or more, if agreed upon by the companies. Sysco will pay the workers wages and provide benefits they would otherwise get as Sysco workers during their employment for Kroger.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Disney parks in California, Florida to remain closed during coronavirus pandemic
Walt Disney Co. on Friday said its two major parks -- Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., and Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. -- will remain closed until further notice. A spokesperson said the company came to its conclusion because of "this unprecedented pandemic" and upon "direction provided by health experts and government officials." Disney intends to keep paying its hourly parks and resorts staff through April 18, it said. Disney shares are down 13% in the last year. The broader S&P 500 index is down 10% in the last year.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Dow skids 915 points lower and snaps 3-day win streak, but logs best week in 82 years as Trump set to sign coronavirus rescue
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended another volatile week lower Friday, but not before the blue-chip index notched its best weekly gain since 1938, as President Donald Trump was set to sign into law an important coronavirus rescue package just after the market's close. The Dow fell 915 points, or 4.1%, at around 21,636, the S&P 500 index closed 89 points, or 3.4%, at 2,542, while the Nasdaq Composite Index ended the session down 3.7% at around 7,502. For the week, the Dow booked a gain of 12.8%, which marks its best weekly gain since 1938, according to FactSet data. The S&P 500 notched a weekly gain of 10.3%, representing its sharpest weekly rise since 2008, while the Nasdaq Composite Index booked a 9.1% weekly gain. In addition to the fiscal response, the week was marked by the Federal Reserve announcing an unlimited bond-buying program to loosen seized up parts of the financial markets. All these factors helped to boost the market but deep-set worries about when he virus will ultimately peak as investors worried. Trump's planned signing of the coronavirus relief package would follow news that the U.S. has become the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. It also comes after a record 3.28 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week due to the outbreak, earlier in the week, highlighting growing signs of the impact of the deadly infection. The turbulent week also saw the Dow and the S&P 500 notch three straight days of gains, until Friday, as investors cheered the planned fiscal measures by the U.S. government. Moves in the Dow were aided by a comeback for the ages from blue-chip component Boeing Co. which surged 70.5% for the week, marking its best weekly gain ever, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The aeronautics maker has been hammered by the slowdown in travel and the grounding of its 737 MAX fleet of jets.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Vis

MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Trump invokes Defense act to require GM to make ventilators
President Trump on Friday afternoon said he signed a presidential memorandum directing the government to use "any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act" to require General Motors to make ventilators for hospitals to help patients with COVID-19. The order requires GM to "accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators." In a statement, Trump said, "Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time. Today's action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives."

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

United vows no furlough, pay cuts for employees -- for now
United Airlines Inc. said Friday it won't furlough its employees or cut their pay after lawmakers approved the $2 trillion bailout to respond to the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus, including the pandemic's impact on air travel, but said a smaller workforce is possible if the demand rebound is slow. "The impact of COVID-19 on demand for air travel has been dramatic and unprecedented -- far worse than even the aftermath of 9/11," United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz said in a memo to United's nearly 100,000 employees. "United will not conduct involuntary furloughs or pay cuts in the U.S. before September 30th," the memo said. Virtually all airlines have announced schedule and capacity cuts, hiring freezes, and cost-cutting measures as the outbreak worsened and flying slowed to a trickle. United said Friday it expects to make further schedule cuts for May and June. Demand is likely "to remain suppressed for months after that, possibly into next year," the company said. "If the recovery is as slow as we fear, it means our airline and our workforce will have to be smaller than it is today." Shares of United have lost nearly 60% in the last 12 months, compared with losses around 8% for the S&P 500 index. President Donald Trump was expected to sign the stimulus package legislation later on Friday.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

COVID-19 case tally: 585,040 cases, 26,819 deaths
There are now 585,040 cases of COVID-19 and at least 26,819 people have died, according to aggregated data from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. About 129,000 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus that has sickened people in 176 countries. The U.S now has the most number of cases worldwide, with 97,028 cases and 1,475 deaths. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has 81,897 cases and 3,296 deaths. Italy, which is widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, has 86,498 cases and 9,134 deaths. Spain has 64,059 cases and 4,858 deaths; Germany has 50,178 cases and 321 deaths; and Iran has 32,332 cases and 2,378 deaths.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Trump to sign coronavirus legislation at 4 p.m. Eastern, White House says
President Donald Trump will sign the coronavirus stimulus measure at 4 p.m. Eastern, the White House said in a statement on Friday afternoon. Officials want to get the government assistance included in the $2 trillion measure to workers and businesses as soon as possible. The funds will replace lost income and profits from the recent shutdown of the economy designed to slow the spread of the virus.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Bed Bath & Beyond credit is even more 'junk' at S&P after 2-notch downgrade
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.'s credit rating was downgraded two notches at S&P Global Ratings to B from BB, citing the belief that the home accessories retailer's earnings prospects have been "meaningfully weakened," and its credit prospects are set for "significant deterioration" this year given the COVID-19-related store closures. S&P said the rating outlook is negative, meaning a further downgrade is possible, given the heightened uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and impending recession on the retailer's financial condition. The rating is now 4 notches deep into "junk" territory. "A prolonged store closure, coupled with a slowdown in consumer spending could affect the company's ability to recover operationally," S&P said. The ratings agency expects consumer demand to be depressed over the next few quarters, as "confidence rapidly deflates from mounting uncertaity over the severity and duration of the outbreak." The stock, which fell 6.3% in afternoon trading, has plunged 73.2% year to date, while the S&P 500 has lost 20.4%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Oil prices down a 5th week in a row as global demand drops
Oil futures fell Friday, with the slowdown in energy demand sending prices down for a fifth straight week. U.S. benchmark prices, however, found modest support after Baker Hughes reported that the number of active U.S. oil rigs fell by 40 to 624 this week, indicating a likely decline in production. May West Texas Intermediate oil fell $1.09, or 4.8%, to settle $21.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after trading as low as $20.88. For the week, prices fell nearly 5%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

L Brands halts dividend, furloughs employees
L Brands Inc. said Friday it was halting its dividend, cutting expenses and its capital expenditures plan, furloughing employees and cutting executive pay to shore up its balance sheet amid the coronavirus pandemic. Dividend payments are suspended starting with the payment in the second quarter of fiscal 2020, said L Brands, the parent company of Bath & Body Works. "The company remains committed to paying dividends over the long-term and will re-evaluate when appropriate," L Brands said. Executive pay will be cut by 20%, and employees not working to support online sales and those who cannot work from home are furloughed effective April 5. "All furloughed associates will continue to receive existing healthcare benefits. As circumstances change, L Brands will make every effort to bring these associates back to work as soon as possible," L Brands said, without specifying the number of employees. The company also extended store closures and said its salespeople will continue to receive pay and benefits through April 4, one week longer than originally announced. L Brands said it has more than $2 billion in cash, and the cash balance plus Friday's measures will "sufficient current liquidity." Shares of L Brands have lost 51% in the past 12 months, which compares with a drop around 8% for the S&P 500 index .

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Victoria's Secret parent L Brands halts dividend, furloughs employees
L Brands Inc. said Friday it was halting its dividend, cutting expenses and its capital expenditures plan, furloughing employees and cutting executive pay to shore up its balance sheet amid the coronavirus pandemic. Dividend payments are suspended starting with the payment in the second quarter of fiscal 2020, said L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and other retailers. "The company remains committed to paying dividends over the long-term and will re-evaluate when appropriate," L Brands said. Executive pay will be cut by 20%, and employees not working to support online sales and those who cannot work from home are furloughed effective April 5. "All furloughed associates will continue to receive existing healthcare benefits. As circumstances change, L Brands will make every effort to bring these associates back to work as soon as possible," L Brands said, without specifying the number of employees. The company also extended store closures and said its salespeople will continue to receive pay and benefits through April 4, one week longer than originally announced. L Brands said it has more than $2 billion in cash, and the cash balance plus Friday's measures will "sufficient current liquidity." Shares of L Brands have lost 51% in the past 12 months, which compares with a drop around 8% for the S&P 500 index .

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Former Weight Watchers WW stock upgraded at Morgan Stanley, sees upside after 'cocoon' phase of COVID-19 ends
Shares of WW International Inc. , formerly known as Weight Watchers, rose 0.2% in afternoon trading Friday, after Morgan Stanley upgraded the wellness and weight management company to overweight, citing optimism over the outlook after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic eventually pass. Analyst Lauren Cassel said that while data suggests new subscriber growth has fallen "precipitously" over the past couple weeks, that weakness could be expected based on the "drastic" changes being made in consumers' lives, and initial feedback on WW's virtual workshops has been positive. And Cassel believes once the "cocoon" phase of the COVID-19-related consumer behavior ends, she sees WW as a potential beneficiary. Cassel expects a heightened focus on health, wellness and weight loss after weeks of gym closures, stress eating and limited physical activity. She believes "WW's value proposition is actually stronger post virus than it was before." The stock has gained 17% this week, after plunging 62% over the previous four weeks, In comparison, the S&P 500 was down 2.5% on Friday but up 11% on the week, after a four-week loss of 31%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Gold ends day lower, gains more than 9% for the week
Gold futures finished with a loss on Friday, but tallied a gain of more than 9% for the week. "The perfect storm for gold is manifesting and it is going to keep pushing the gold price higher as capital seeks safe harbor," said Peter Spina, president and chief executive officer at GoldSeek.com. April gold fell $26.20, or 1.6%, to settle at $1,625 an ounce, but gained 9.5% for the week.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

House passes coronavirus stimulus bill by voice vote after lone lawmaker's push for recorded vote flops
The House of Representatives on Friday approved a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package in a voice vote, with the move coming after Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie's push for a recorded vote flopped. The legislation already has passed the Senate and is expected to be signed into law quickly by President Donald Trump.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Mortgate REIT liquidity concerns should remain the focus, analyst says
The mortgage real estate investment trust sector was mostly lower Friday, after Raymond James analyst Stephen Laws said it was still too early for investors to shift their focus away from liquidity concerns, toward future portfolio returns. The iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF slumped 3.3% in afternoon trade, to pullback from a sharp two-day bounce in which the ETF recorded back-to-back record one-day gains, of 15.2% on Wednesday and 20.8% on Thursday. The ETF had closed at a record low on Tuesday, after plunging 65.4% in a month. The recent bounce had come after a number of mortgage REITs gave position updates and government actions to help soothe liquidity concerns and a rally in the broader stock market . "We are encouraged by the recent positive liquidity updates, but believe it is too early to shift the focus to 2H earnings," Laws wrote in a note to clients. "While we believe conditions have improved some with respect to margin calls and CRE companies are in better shape than investors feared earlier in the week, the near-term could continue to be volatile given impacts from COVID-19." Before the bounce, Laws pointed out that 5 mortgage REITs, all components of the ETF, had said they could not meet margin calls.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Amazon, Shop Rite parent snap up Fairway assets in bankruptcy auction
Amazon.com Inc. and Shop Rite parent Village Super Market Inc. have bought Fairway assets in a bankruptcy auction, The Wall Street Journal reports. Village Super Market, which also operates Gourmet Garage locations, is buying four Fairway stores in Manhattan and a store in Westchester county while Amazon bought the leases to two stores in New Jersey. Village Super Market purchased the Westchester location after backing out of the Harlem location. Village Super Market stock is down 18.5% over the last year. Amazon stock is up 8.5%. And the S&P 500 index is down 8.9% for the period.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Baker Hughes data reveal a significant weekly drop in the U.S. oil-rig count
Baker Hughes on Friday reported that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil dropped by 40 to 624 this week. That followed decline of 19 oil rigs the week before. The total active U.S. rig count, meanwhile, also declined by 44 to 728, according to Baker Hughes. Oil prices continued to fall in the wake of the data, with May West Texas Intermediate crude down $1.16, or 5.1%, at $21.44 a barrel. It traded at $21.52 shortly before the rig data.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

COVID-19 case tally: 566,269 cases, 25,423 deaths
There are now 566,269 cases of COVID-19 and at least 25,423 people have died, according to aggregated data from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. About 127,000 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus that has sickened people in 176 countries. The U.S now has the most number of cases worldwide, with 92,932 cases and 1,380 deaths. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has 81,897 cases and 3,296 deaths. Italy, which is widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, has 80,589 cases and 8,215 deaths. Spain has 64,059 cases and 4,858 deaths; Germany has 47,278 cases and 281 deaths; and Iran has 32,332 cases and 2,378 deaths.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Kroger to hire an additional 20,000 workers after hiring 23,500 in recent weeks
Kroger Co. said Friday that it plans to hire 20,000 workers in the next several weeks. The grocer has already brought on 23,500 new employees in recent weeks. Kroger has introduced an expedited recruitment process that has brought down the time between application and the first day on the job to an average of 72 hours. Grocers have seen a spike in traffic and demand as consumers stock up on necessities and hunker down amid the coronavirus pandemic. The news comes after a record 3.28 million Americans applied for unemployment last week. Kroger stock has gained nearly 4% for the month to date and 20.4% over the last year. The S&P 500 index is down 9.3% for the last 12 months.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Rep. Massie confirms he plans to make move that would delay House's vote on stimulus
Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said Friday in a series of tweets that he would make a move that looks likely to delay the House's vote on a huge coronavirus stimulus package. He said he "will request a vote on the CARES Act which means members of Congress will vote on it by pushing 'yes' or 'no' or 'present.'" Massie also said the "Constitution requires that a quorum of members be present to conduct business in the House," and he suggested it's not "too much to ask that the House do its job." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously had been counting on a relatively quick voice vote.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

New York Governor Cuomo orders schools to remain shut until April 15
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said he was ordering all schools in the state to remain closed for an additional two weeks until April 15. The initial closure order was set to expire April 1. "When you look at where we are and you look at the number of [coronavirus] cases increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed for another two weeks and then we'll reassess at that point," Cuomo said, during an address at the temporary hospital at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. Cuomo said he is planning four more temporary hospitals so there is one in each of the 5 boroughs of New York City. Cuomo said there now 44,000 total cases of coronavirus in the state, with 7,377 new cases reported overnight. The number of deaths has risen to 519, up from 385.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.



MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

President Trump criticizes GM in series of tweets over speed of ventilator production
President Donald Trump criticized General Motors Co. in a series of tweets Friday, about the automaker not providing the number of ventilators that were expected. "As usual with 'this' General Motors, things just never seem to work out," Trump tweeted. "General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!" He stated that GM said it will only provide 6,000 ventilators in late April, and they want "top dollar," after saying they would provide 40,000 ventilators "'very quickly.'" He added, "Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke'P,'", in reference to GM Chief Executive Mary Barra and with P referring to the Defense Production Act. GM's stock was down 5.2% midday trading Friday, but was little changed since Trump's tweets. The stock was up 18% this week, after plummeting 47.8% over the previous five weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 13.6% this week, after shedding 34.8% the previous 5 weeks.

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Mar 27, 2020

P&G's stock the lone Dow gainer after Stifel Nicolaus upgrade
Shares of Procter & Gamble Co. rose 0.1% in morning trading, and were the gainer among the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 30 components, after Stifel Nicolaus analyst Mark Astrachan said it was time to buy, citing valuation and potential near-term sales growth from COVID-19-related buying of the consumer products company's offerings. Astrachan raised his rating to buy after being at hold for at least the past three years. The stock has lost 5.3% over the past month, but the Dow has tumbled 16.1%. Astrachan believes strength in P&G's health care, fabric, home care, baby, feminine and family care businesses will offset weakness in beauty and grooming. "We view valuation as reasonable given heightened macroeconomic uncertainty, consistent free cash flow, and current 2.8% dividend yield," Astrachan wrote in a note to clients. "We anticipate P&G's F3Q20 and F4Q20 sales will be favorably impacted by coronavirus-related buying due to the essential nature of many of its products."

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Corona parent Constellation Brands' stock gains after SunTrust analyst turns bullish, boosts price target
Shares of Constellation Brands Inc. rose 0.5% in morning trading Friday, to buck a sharp selloff in the broader stock market, after SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Bill Chappell turned bullish on the beer and hard seltzer seller, and cannabis investor, saying the COVID-19-related pullback has created an "attractive entry point" for investors. That stock has now gained 33.8% amid a 4-day win streak, but was still down 25.5% year to date. In comparison, the S&P 500's was down 3.5% Friday morning and has lost 21.5% this year. Chappell raised his rating on the Corona beer parent to buy, after being at hold since September 2018, and boosted his stock price target to $200 from $150, saying the ocmpany has a "resilient" portfolio and "strong" free cash flow generation. "Second, we believe investor expectations for [Constellation's] beer portfolio growth (ex. COVID-19), new product launches and potential return from its investment in Canopy are now realistic," Chappell wrote in a note to clients.

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Mar 27, 2020

Trump criticizes Kentucky Republican who may delay House vote on coronavirus stimulus
President Donald Trump on Friday criticized a Kentucky Republican congressman who might slow down a House vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Trump tweeted that Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky is "a third rate Grandstander" who can't stop the package but only delay it. The president said that would be dangerous and costly, and he suggested Massie should be thrown out of the Republican Party. Massie has said he objects to the massive package due to how much it adds to the national debt, and he has said he could support it if it were just about helping people get more unemployment benefits.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

MGM Resorts' stock drops after COVID-19 update, after soaring nearly 90% the past 6 days
Shares of MGM Resorts International sank 8.3% in morning trading Friday, putting them on track to snap a 6-day win streak in which they rocketed 88%, after the casino operator provided an update of the COVID-19-related financial impact. The company said that while all of its Macau properties are open, "visitation remains at low levels" given travel constraints. In the U.S., all of its properties have been closed and group cancellations have been "very high." MGM said it has incurred "substantial" operating losses in March as a result of actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and does not expect to see a material improvement until more is known regarding the duration and severity of the pandemic. MGM said it had operating cash of $3.9 billion, including $1.5 billion drawn under its credit facility, and has not debt maturing before 2022, and expects interest payments on its $5.5 billion of outstanding debt to be about $200 million in 2020. Despite the recent rally, the stock has still tumbled 51.7% over the past month, while the S&P 500 has shed 15.2%.

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Mar 27, 2020

Bank of Canada cuts rates, starts buying bonds
The Bank of Canada on Friday cut its benchmark overnight interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25%, saying the spread of the new coronavirus and the abrupt slide in oil prices "are having serious consequences for Canadians and for the economy." The rate cut was unscheduled, and the central bank also announced plans to buy at least $CAD 5 billion of government bonds every week "until the economic recovery is well underway." Central banks around the world have unveiled massive stimulus programs in the past weeks as COVID-19 has shut down economic activity.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Stocks slide at the open after three consecutive days of gains
U.S. stocks opened sharply lower Friday, at risk of snapping a three-day winning streak as cases of the novel coronavirus continued to spiral higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened about 842 points, 3.7%, lower, near 21.711, while the S&P 500 was 89 points, 3.4%, lower, to start trading near 2,541. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 243 points or 3.1%, opening at about 7,557. Shares of ViacomCBS Inc. slid at the open after the company warned COVID-19 could have a "material" impact on its operations.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

COVID-19 case tally: 549,604 cases, 24,863 deaths
There are now 549,604 cases of COVID-19 and at least 24,863 people have died, according to aggregated data from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. About 127,000 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus that has sickened people in 176 countries. The U.S now has the most number of cases worldwide, with 85,996 cases and 1,300 deaths. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has 81,897 cases and 3,296 deaths. Italy, which is widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, has 80,589 cases and 8,215 deaths. Spain has 64,059 cases and 4,858 deaths; Germany has 47,278 cases and 281 deaths; and Iran has 32,332 cases and 2,378 deaths.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Consumer spending rose a mild 0.2% in February ahead of pandemic
Consumer spending increased a mild 0.2% in February, the government said Friday. Spending, the main engine of the economy, has slowed a bit in 2020 ahead of the coronavirus. Spending is expected to dramatically weaken in the next few months as the economy falls into recession. The government is trying to get funding into the economy to offset some of the destruction of incomes from the coronavirus. Income rose 0.6% in February for the second straight month. The savings rate rose to 8.2% in February from 7.9% in the prior month. Core PCE inflation ticked up to a 1.8% rate from 1.7% in the prior month.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

All 30 Dow stocks fall, led by J.P. Morgan Chase's 4.3% decline
Shares of all 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average components are trading lower Friday, as the Dow is in danger of snapping a historic three-day rally in which it rose 3,960 points, or 21.3%. Dow futures sank 573 points, or 2.6%, ahead of the open. The biggest Dow loser Friday was J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s stock , which shed 4.3% after running up 24.2% the past three days. Among the most-active components, shares of Boeing Co. dropped 2.2%, after rocketing 90% over the past four days, and Apple Inc.'s stock shed 2.0% after climbing 15.2% the past three days.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Conagra to give bonuses to full-time and part-time workers in the U.S., Mexico and Canada
Conagra Brands Inc. said Friday that it will give a $500 bonus to all U.S. employees at its production and distribution facilities, and a $250 bonus to part-time employees. Staff at facilities in Canada and Mexico will receive similar bonuses. The bonus is in recognition of the work done during the coronavirus outbreak. Workers sickened by Covid-19 would continue to receive pay, and are eligible for the bonus. Conagra's portfolio of brands includes Dunkin Hines, Healthy Choice and Birds Eye. Conagra stock is down 1.3% in Friday premarket trading, but up 2.7% for the last year. The S&P 500 index is down 6.3% over the past 12 months.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Build-A-Bear Workshop to furlough more than 90% of workers without 'direct compensation,' cuts pay for remaining workers
Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. said in a filing that it will furlough more than 90% of its workers, effective March 29. These employees will receive medical, dental and vision benefits, but will not receive "direct compensation." The company's owned and operated stores in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Denmark and Canada will remain closed until further notice. And the company's Ohio warehouse is closed until the completion of a review of workplace safety measures. Online orders might be delayed as a result. Most workers who aren't furloughed will see a pay cut. Base salaries for all executive officers will be cut by 20% and annual cash retainers for non-employee directors are eliminated in the fiscal first quarter. Build-A-Bear stock is up nearly 2% in Friday premarket trading, but down nearly 73% for the last year. The S&P 500 index has fallen 6.3% for the past 12 months.

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Mar 27, 2020

Fiat Chrysler is in process of making masks, with supply to donate expected in 'coming weeks'
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. said Friday it was in the process of converting its first plant to making face masks to donate to first responders and health chare workers. The automaker said the first machinery to make the masks were installed with supply expected "in the coming weeks." Fellow auto makers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have also announced measures to make personal protective equipment. Fiat Chrysler's stock slumped 5.8% in premarket trading after running up 21.7% over the past three sessions. Over the past three months, the stock has shed 48.0% through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has lost 18.8%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Party City extends store closures until further notice, draws down $150 million from revolving credit facility
Party City Holdco Inc. said Friday that its corporate-owned stores will remain closed until further notice. The company has also drawn down $150 million from its $640 million revolving credit facility. Party City has withdrawn the fiscal 2020 guidance provided March 12, when it announced fiscal fourth-quarter earnings. Party City stock has lost nearly 93% of its value over the last year. The S&P 500 index is down 6.3% for the period.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

COVID-19 case tally: 542,788 cases, 24,361 deaths
There are now 542,788 cases of COVID-19 and at least 24,361 people have died, according to aggregated data from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. About 124,000 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus that has sickened people in 176 countries. The U.S now has the most number of cases worldwide, with 85,996 cases and 1,300 deaths. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has 85,996 cases and 3,296 deaths. Italy, which is widely considered to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, has 80,589 cases and 8,215 deaths. Spain has 57,786 cases and 4,365 deaths; Germany has 4,365 cases and 281 deaths; and Iran has 32,332 cases and 2,378 deaths.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

U.K. Prime Minister Johnson tweets he has tested positive for coronavirus
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tweeted that he has tested positive for coronavirus. "Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus," he said.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Apache sees credit downgrade to 'junk' territory by S&P not having 'material' impact on liquidity
Apache Corp. said Friday that the downgrade of its credit by Standard & Poor's late Thursday, which cut the rating by two notches into "junk" territory, is not expected to have a material impact on its financial position, liquidity or business strategy. The oil and gas exploration company said it will have ot post letters of credit of about $650 million related to asset retirement obiligations in the U.K. North Sea. "Apache has ample liquidity and a very manageable bond maturity profile for the next five years," said Chief Financial Officer Stephen Riney. Late Thursday, S&P Global Ratings cut Apache's credit rating to BB from BBB, with a negative outlook, saying the recent collapse in oil prices will negatively affect profitability and cash flows. The stock, which fell 1.0% in premarket trading, has plunged 78.0% over the past three months, while crude oil futures has tumbled 63.4% and the S&P 500 has declined 18.8%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Viacom pulls 2020 outlook, warns COVID-19 could have 'material' impact on business
ViacomCBS Inc. withdrew its 2020 financial forecast Friday while providing some updates on the business amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The media company has seen viewership grow for its broadcast and cable properties but it has experienced production delays, Viacom said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Viacom is "working proactively to offset a portion of anticipated revenue losses through cost-savings initiatives" and still expects to achieve $750 million of full run-rate cost synergies from the merger between Viacom and CBS over he next three years. The company still targets 16 million domestic paid streaming subscribers and 30 million monthly active users on its Pluto TV platform by the end of 2020. Viacom warned that the novel coronavirus outbreak "could be material to the company's operating results, cash flows and financial position" but that the magnitude is hard to predict due to the evolving nature of the crisis. The company had not drawn on its revolving credit facility as of Thursday. The shares are off about 3% in premarket trading Friday and they've fallen 41% over the past month as the S&P 500 has declined 12%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Molson Coors creates voluntary paid leave program, boosts on-site workers pay
Molson Coors Beverage Co. said Friday that it is withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance given uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and created a voluntary paid leave program for April for employees whose work must be done on site. Those electing to participate in paid leave will be paid 60% of regular wages. The beer brewer said it has implemented a "thank you pay incentive" for employees whose work must be done on site, with hourly workers receiving an additional $5 per hour, including any overtime pay. Salaries workers will receive an additional $200 a week. Separately, the company said it was producing hand sanitizer at multiple craft breweries to support growing need from first responders. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trading, has lost 28.3% over the past three months while the S&P 500 has lost 18.8%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Howard Hughes launches public stock offering, Pershing willing to buy $500 million worth of stock
Howard Hughes Corp. said Friday it has launched a public offering of common stock, but did not provide details on the amount. The real estate management company said Pershing Square Capital Management has indicated that it intends to purchase, in a concurrent private placement, up to $500 million worth of shares. Pershing was the the company's fourth-largest shareholder, with a 5.1% stake, according to FactSet data. Howard Hughes expects to use the proceeds from the public sale of shares and the private offering to strengthen its balance sheet and for general corporate purposes. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trading, has tumbled 57.3% over the past three months to close Thursday with a market capitalization of $2.28 billion. The S&P 500 has lost 18.8% over the same time.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

Cheesecake Factory has furloughed 41,000 hourly restaurant workers
Cheesecake Factory Inc. disclosed Friday that it has furloughed about 41,000 hourly employees, citing the COVID-19-related curtailment of dine-in restaurant operations and landlord closures of certain properties. The restaurant chain operator said the furloughed employees will be provided a daily complimentary meal, and retain eligibility of benefits and insurance until June 1. The company said its chief executive and other named executives have volunteered to have base salaries cut by 20% starting April 1, and the board of directors have elected to take a 20% cut in annual retainer fees. The company also confirmed that it was not planning to pay rent on leases for April. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trading, has tumbled 48.8% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 has lost 18.8%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 27, 2020

European stocks and U.S. futures fall as American coronavirus cases climb
European stocks opened lower, tracking losses for U.S. stock futures as investor concern grew over climbing cases of the coronavirus in America. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 1.7% to 315.96, with the FTSE 100 index out in front with a 3.1% drop to 5,634.43. Dow Jones Industrial Average stock futures fell 248 points, or 1.1%, to 22,105, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures dropped over 1% each. Losses come after the Dow industrials re-entered bull-market territory on Thursday, with a gain of more than 6%, while the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 2.7%. The U.S. now has the most cases of coronavirus in the world, passing China with more than 85,000 cases.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

U.S. stock futures slip despite Dow's third straight day of gains
After starting the session flat, U.S. stock index futures fell Thursday night, following a third straight day of gains by the Dow -- technically putting it back into a bull market -- and ahead of the House's expected approval of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 280 points, or 1.3%, as of 11:30 p.m. Eastern. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures were also down more than 1%. Stocks jumped earlier Thursday despite a Labor Department report that showed unemployment claims soared to a record 3.28 million last week due to businesses shutting due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Dow closed 1,351.62 points higher, or 6.38%, at 22,552.17, while the S&P 500 gained 154.51 points, or 6.24%, to close at 2,630.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 413.24 points or 5.6%, closing at 7,797.54.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Hilton suspends dividend, will furlough staff, among other measures amid COVID-19 pandemic
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. outlined its plans Thursday to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including furloughing part of its corporate workforce, suspending stock buybacks, dividend payments, halting non-essential expenses and halting capital expenditures. The company said that beginning April 4, "many" of the company's corporate workers will have reduced schedules or be furloughed for 90 days; workers who are not furloughed will take a 20% pay cut for the duration of the crisis. The company said the CEO would forgo a salary for the remainder of 2020 and the executive committee would take a 50% pay cut during the crisis. Furloughed employees will maintain health benefits and be eligible for unemployment benefits. Hilton also said it is giving employees access to temporary jobs at companies such as Amazon.com Inc. . Hilton stock fell 0.3% during the extended session and closed up 1.3% during regular trading Thursday.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Dell withdraws fiscal 2021 financial guidance due to coronavirus
Dell Technologies Inc. on Thursday said it is withdrawing its financial guidance for fiscal 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. In an 8-K filing, the company said it is "unable to predict the extent to which the global COVID-19 pandemic may adversely impact its business operations, financial performance and results of operations for the current fiscal year." Dell said it plans to provide more information during its fiscal first-quarter earnings call scheduled on May 29. Dell shares are down 25% in the last year. The broader S&P 500 index is down 6.6% in the last year.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Facebook launches coronavirus hub on messenger platform
Facebook Inc. on Thursday said it has launched a coronavirus community hub on its messenger platform that includes tools for parents and teachers to help with remote school work, help consumers verify facts and avoid scams on the topic, and keep its members connected on the social-networking platform.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Macy's, Gap bonds downgraded to junk by Moody's
Moody's Investors Service late Thursday downgraded Macy's Inc.'s debt and Gap Inc.'s debt to junk on the disruption and impact on demand wrought by the novel coronavirus and the retailers' ailing balance sheets. Macy's will need to "refocus its efforts toward prioritizing the preservation of liquidity and delaying its strategic plans to improve its operating performance," Moody's said. Weaknesses in Macy's credit profile "have left it vulnerable to shifts in market sentiment in these unprecedented operating conditions and Macy's remains vulnerable to the outbreak continuing to spread," the debt ratings agency said. Macy's debt was downgraded one notch to Ba1, the first rung of speculative, from Baa3. Gap's debt was downgraded two notches to Ba1 from Baa2, reflecting "the steady decline in Gap's cash flow from operations and credit metrics as well as the anticipated disruption of the COVID-19 virus in the face of unprecedented temporary store and mall closures," Moody's said. Despite the company's $1.7 billion in cash and short-term investments plus the ability to reduce its dividend, Moody's expects that Gap's earnings "will materially contract in 2020 and Gap is currently pursuing a secured credit facility," the debt ratings agency said. Gap earlier Thursday said it was halting its dividend and withdrawing 2020 guidance for the year. Macy's stock rose 1.6% in the extended session after ending the regular trading day down 10%; Gap shares rose nearly 1% in the late session after closing down 6%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Hilton suspends dividend, to furlough staff, among other measures amid COVID-19 pandemic
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. outlined its plans Thursday to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including furloughing part of its corporate workforce, suspending stock buybacks, dividend payments, halting non-essential expenses and halting capital expenditures. The company said that beginning April 4, "many" of the company's corporate workers will have reduced schedules or be furloughed for 90 days; workers who are not furloughed will take a 20% pay cut for the duration of the crisis. The company said the CEO would forgo a salary for the remainder of 2020 and the executive committee would take a 50% pay cut during the crisis. Furloughed employees will maintain health benefits and be eligible for unemployment benefits. Hilton also said it is giving employees access to temporary jobs at companies such as Amazon.com Inc. . Hilton stock fell 0.3% during the extended session and closed up 1.3% during regular trading Thursday.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

VMware withdraws fiscal 2021 guidance because of coronavirus
VMware Inc. shares tumbled 4% in extended trading Thursday after the software company withdrew its previously issued financial guidance for fiscal 2021. In an 8-K filing, VMware warned it is "unable to predict the extent to which the global COVID-19 pandemic may adversely impact its business operations, financial performance and results of operations." VMware plans to provide more information during its fiscal first-quarter earnings call on May 28. VMware shares are down 30% in the last year. The broader S&P 500 index is down 6.6% in the last year.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

KushCo CFO to depart amid restructuring plan
KushCo Holdings Inc. said late Thursday that the company's chief financial officer was departing as the company restructures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. KushCo said that it is further working to expand its customer base of larger cannabis companies in Canada and the U.S. because small and mid-size companies have been struggling financially following the vape illness crisis. KushCo said it was reducing its warehouse footprint, reducing its inventory and offering a "simplified" batch of products. KushCo also said it had laid off 49 employees, which combined with other staff cuts beginning in September will result in an overall workforce reduction of 50%. The company said it expected the restructuring to take several months. Current CFO Christopher Tedford will leave KushCo April 10, and will be replaced by current executive vice president of corporate development, Stephen Christoffersen, who has been in that role since 2018. KushCo said it would report financial results for the fiscal second quarter in April. KushCo stock gained 15.7% during the regular session Thursday, as the Cannabis ETF rose 11.1%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

KB Home stock rise after earnings beat
KB Home shares rose 8.5% in the extended session Thursday after the company topped consensus earnings estimates. KB Home reported first-quarter net income of $59.7 million, which amounts to 63 cents a share, versus net income of $30 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $1.08 billion from $811.5 million in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had estimated earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $957.7 million. The company said that it was withdrawing its 2020 guidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. KB Home stock has fallen 21% in the past year, with the S&P 500 index rising 12.2%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Gap halts dividend, cuts expenses to save up cash amid coronavirus pandemic
Gap Inc. late Thursday said it halted its dividend for the rest of the year and postponed the payment of the previously announced first-quarter dividend amid "precautionary actions" to shore up its balance sheet in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We entered 2020 in a strong financial position. However, in this time of unprecedented disruption to the retail sector, we are proactively taking the prudent actions to further strengthen our financial liquidity and flexibility," Chief Executive Sonia Syngal said in a statement. The company said it is drawing down its entire $500 million revolving-credit facility, cutting capital expenses by about $300 million for the year, and "reviewing all operating expenses" with the aim to reduce them. The company's previously scheduled first-quarter dividend of 24.25 cents a share will be payable "on or after April 28," subject to "the right of the company to further defer the record and payment dates, depending upon, among other factors, the progression of the COVID-19 outbreak," Gap said. The company also withdrew its 2020 guidance issued on March 12, and said it is not providing an updated outlook at this time, with more information to come at its first-quarter earnings call in May. Shares of Gap fell 0.8% in the extended session Thursday after ending the regular trading day down nearly 6%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Marijuana producer Green Thumb reports rising revenue amid widening losses
Marijuana producer Green Thumb Industries Inc. reported Thursday a fourth-quarter net loss of $18.3 million, or 6 cents a share, versus a loss of $3.1 million, which amounts to 2 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $75.8 million from $20.8 million in the year-ago period. The company reported sequential revenue growth of 11.5% from $68 million in the third quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had estimated adjusted losses of 3 cents a share on revenue of $75.7 million. The company said that it has activated a response team to address the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to operate stores in states where cannabis has been named an essential business. For the first quarter, analysts expected adjusted losses of a penny a share and sales of $91.7 million. As of the end of December, Green Thumb said it had $46.7 million in cash and equivalents. Green Thumb stock has fallen 51% in the past year, as the S&P 500 index dropped 18.7%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Progress Software shares dip on revenue shortfall
Progress Software Corp. shares were down 2% in after-hours trading Thursday after the company reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. Progress Software reported net income of $21.1 million in the quarter, or 46 cents a share, compared with net income of $9.4 million, or 21 cents a share, in the year-ago first quarter. Revenue grew 22% to $109.7 million from $89.5 million a year ago. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected net income of 33 cents a share on sales of $112.1 million. Progress Software shares are down 9% in the last year. The broader S&P 500 index is down 7% in the last year.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Facebook names former Treasury Department official to board of directors
Facebook Inc. on Thursday said Robert M. Kimmitt, former deputy secretary of the Treasury and U.S. Ambassador to Germany, has been appointed to the company's board of directors as lead independent director, effective immediately. Facebook added that Jeffrey D. Zients, chief executive of The Cranemere Group Ltd., has informed the company he will not stand for re-election to Facebook's board at the company's 2020 annual shareholders meeting. Facebook shares are down 1% in the last year. The broader S&P 500 index is down 6.6% in the last year.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Lululemon beats Q4 EPS expectations, doesn't provide 2020 guidance
Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc. fell more than 2% in the extended session Thursday after the company reported profit above Wall Street expectations and said it couldn't provide 2020 guidance due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Lululemon said it earned $298 million, or $2.28 a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $218 million, or $1.65 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales rose 20% to $1.4 billion, the company said. Comparable-store sales rose 9%, and direct-to-consumer net revenue rose 41%, Lululemon said. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of $2.25 a share on sales of $1.4 billion. Lululemon said it temporarily closed all of its retail locations in mainland China in February, and that all but one of these locations have since reopened. Retail locations in North America, Europe and elsewhere were closed in March. Shares of Lululemon had ended the regular trading day up 3.7%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Dow ends over 1,300 points higher as investors focus on stimulus
Stocks soared for a third straight day Thursday, with investors focusing on Senate passage of a $2 trillion stimulus package and appearing to look past a surge in first-time jobless claims to a record 3.28 million last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished around 1,352 points higher, a gain of 6.4%, to end near 22,552, according to preliminary figures, while the S&P 500 advanced around 155 points, or 6.12, to close near 2,630. The Nasdaq Composite ended around 7,798, a gain of 413 points, or 5.6%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

LogMeIn says usage of its remote-access tools jumped as much as 300% in past week
LogMeIn Inc. provided new usage statistics Thursday as the COVID-19 outbreak prompts more people to work from home and access remote tools. The company disclosed that use of remote-access tools including LogMeIn Pro and GoToMyPC rose as much as 300% in the past week while the company's unified-communications platform GoToConnect witnessed a 93% boost in voice calls with growth up nearly 20% day over day. Usage of LogMeIn's video-conference and meetings tools is up as much as 10 times from earlier 2020 levels, before the big spike in remote work that was brought on by COVID-19, a spokesperson said. LogMeIn shares have held up better than the overall market in the past month, falling about 4% compared with a 17% drop for the S&P 500 .

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Homebuilder ETFs rise as analysts remain bullish
Two exchange-traded funds that track homebuilder stocks are outperforming broader benchmarks as Wall Street analysts say the macro outlook for new residential construction remains strong and the recent sell-off overdone. The iShares U.S. Home Construction fund is up 23% this week, while the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF has gained 22.6%, both dwarfing the 12.6% gain in the S&P 500 in that time. On Tuesday, Keybanc analysts upgraded shares of KB Home, calling the risks "tilting to favorable." On Thursday, Raymond James analyst Buck Horne released an analysis that found builders like KB Home and Pulte Group Inc. had enough cash on hand to manage for years with zero cash flow.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

UPDATE: COVID-19 global case tally climbs above half a million with 22,993 deaths
There are now more than half a million cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, with the tally climbing to 510,108 early afternoon. That's according to data from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. At least 22,923 people have died of the disease, and at least 120,983 have recovered.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Oil futures mark first decline in 4 sessions
Oil futures settled lower on Thursday as growing worries around the decline in energy demand prompted prices to mark their first decline in four sessions. At an online event hosted by the Atlantic Council Thursday, Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency's executive director, said global oil demand may fall by as much as 20 million barrels a day, with 3 billion people in the world on lockdown, according to a report from Bloomberg News. May West Texas Intermediate oil fell $1.89, or 7.7%, to settle at $22.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Trump to classify counties as high- or low-risk to drive next phase of virus fight
President Donald Trump on Thursday in a letter to U.S. governors about the coronavirus crisis said his administration planned to work toward categorizing counties as high-, medium- or low-risk. "This new information will drive the next phase in our war against this invisible enemy," Trump said in the letter. The letter comes after administration officials earlier this week said advisories could be loosened in areas not experiencing widespread infection.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Gold futures end higher after record weekly U.S. jobless claims
Gold futures finished higher on Thursday, as record weekly U.S. jobless claims pressured the dollar. Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, "reflecting how badly the coronavirus is impacting the largest economy in the world," said Lukman Otunuga, senior market analyst at FXTM. "Gold is expected to ride higher on dollar weakness and fears over a global recession." April gold rose $17.80, or 1.1%, to settle at $1,651.20 an ounce after losing about 1.7% Wednesday.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

'Awesome demand' for 7-year Treasury auction amid Fed bond-buying
Strong bidding was seen in the sale for $32 billion of 7-year Treasury notes, the last of three coupon-bearing debt auctions this week. The auction stopped through by three basis points, a sign of "awesome demand," according to Tom di Galoma, managing director of Treasurys trading at Seaport Global Securities. A stop-through indicates by how much the highest yield the Treasurys sold in the auction is below the highest yield expected when the auction began - the "when issued" level. The results helped to push bond yields lower, with the 10-year Treasury note rate falling 5.8 basis points to 0.798% and the 7-year note yield slumping 6.8 basis points to 0.673%. Bond prices move in the opposite direction of yields. Analysts have pointed to a combination of reasons for the bullish trading in government paper, including the Federal Reserve's open-ended bond purchases, heightened concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak and expectations for a recession this year. U.S. government bonds are traditionally considered a safe haven.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Synchrony Financial stock surges toward best day on record
Synchrony Financial shares are surging toward their best single-day percentage gain on record Thursday, according to Dow Jones Market Data, with the stock up more than 16% in midday trading. The private-label credit-card company's stock began trading in 2014 after General Electric Co. offered a small percent of Synchrony stock to the public. Synchrony formally separated out of GE in 2015. Jefferies analyst John Hecht wrote in a Thursday note to client that Synchrony is among the lenders he would "prioritize" during the current period of economic uncertainty as the stock appears "resilient" along with peers Aaron's Inc. [aan], Ally Financial Inc. , FirstCash Inc. , and OneMain Holdings Inc. . "Within the credit card peer group, SYF is the best positioned with the highest risk-adjusted margin at 9.6%," Hecht wrote. Synchrony shares have lost 47% so far this year as the S&P 500 has dropped 20%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Dynavax's stock rises 10% on expanded CEPI partnership
Shares of Dynavax Technologies Corp. gained 10% in trading on Thursday after the company said it's making its adjuvant technology available to companies developing COVID-19 vaccines through a partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a not-for-profit organization in Oslo that has provided funding to a handful of vaccine developers in this pandemic. Dynavax's adjuvant technology can help provide an increased immune response to a vaccine; the biopharmaceutical company is also working with the University of Queensland, Australia, on vaccine development through a CEPI deal. GlaxoSmithKline , which is lending its adjuvant technology to COVID-19 vaccine development plans, has also partnered with CEPI, the University of Queensland, and Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc., a Chinese biotechnology company, the same as Dynavax. Dynavax's stock is down 42% year-to-date. The S&P 500 has dropped 23%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Viacom paces S&P 500 decliners after Bernstein slashes price target
Shares of ViacomCBS Inc. are off 6% in Thursday trading and pacing the S&P 500 decliners on a day when the broader market is rallying. "Shareholders of stocks like Viacom, Discovery , and AMC Networks own underlying assets that rely almost entirely on an old business model with both severe adverse structural forces and cyclical risk, as well as the preexisting condition of overly extended balance sheets," Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger wrote in a bearish note to clients Thursday. He cut his price target on Viacom shares to $10 from $24 while maintaining an underperform rating on the stock and writing that there would seem to be "not much left for equity holders in the COVID-19 aftermath" when it comes to Viacom, Discovery, and AMC Networks shares. Also on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Viacom parent company National Amusements Inc. struck a deal with lender Wells Fargo & Co. to restructure its debt after ViacomCBS's recent stock tumble brought the value of the shares below Wells Fargo's minimum threshold, citing sources familiar with the matter. The stock has lost 44% over the past month as the S&P 500 has dropped 17%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Micron gets a double upgrade at Bank of America after earnings
Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Simon Woo raised his rating on shares of Micron Technology Inc. by two notches Thursday following the chip maker's latest earnings report. Woo now rates the stock at buy after a prior rating of underperform. He wrote that Micron's price-to-book ratio is currently close to its previous trough at about 1 times, and he saw "upbeat earnings momentum" in the February quarter. "Of course, new growth opportunities with strongly rising server/enterprise DRAM/NAND demand (remote-work economy with/post COVID-19) should mitigate smartphone/auto industry weakness," Woo wrote. He set a $60 price objective on the stock, which is up 5% in Thursday trading. The stock has lost 15% over the past month as the S&P 500 has dropped 17%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

EIA reports a 29 billion cubic foot weekly decline in U.S. natural-gas supplies
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that domestic supplies of natural gas fell by 29 billion cubic feet for the week ended March 20. Analysts, on average, expected a decline of 27 billion cubic feet, according to a poll conducted by S&P Global Platts. Total stocks now stand at 2.005 trillion cubic feet, up 888 billion cubic feet from a year ago, and 292 billion cubic feet above the five-year average, the government said. April natural gas was down half a cent, or 0.3%, at $1.654 per million British thermal units, trading little changed from before the data.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Square stock rockets toward third straight day of double-digit percentage gains
Shares of Square Inc. are up more than 11% in Thursday trading and on track to post double-digit gains for the third-straight day after the Senate approved a stimulus package that aims to provide some relief for small businesses. "We believe Square is down, but not out," MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis wrote Thursday. "The next couple of quarters will likely be quite challenging...but we believe Square will recover: Square has $3 billion in available cash - plenty to withstand the near-term COVID-19 'shock', Square's strong seller product offerings and resilience should enable the company to gain market share (and hopefully dispense with a few smaller competitors) over the next one to two years, and Square's consumer Cash App is far less affected by the crisis, so should provide some buffer to revenues." She maintained a buy rating and $70 price target on the stock in a note to clients. Square's shares have fallen 24% over the past month as the S&P 500 has lost 18%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Slack stock surges after CEO gives update on engagement metrics
Slack Technologies Inc. shares rocketed 13% in Thursday morning trading after Chief Executive Stuart Butterfield tweeted new updates on the company's user-growth momentum. Slack had 12.5 million "simultaneously connected" users Wednesday, up from 12 million on Monday. The metric is different than the more traditional count of daily active users, which Slack and peers disclose periodically. As of September 2019, Slack had more than 12 million daily active users, and the company's user base has grown since then. On March 19, the company said it had added 7,000 paying customers since start of February, more than in all of prior quarter. Shares of workplace-communications companies have been resilient during the COVID-19 outbreak on the expectation that more people are working from home and need digital tools to stay connected to their coworkers. Zoom Video Communications Inc. shares have added 35% over the past month, as Slack's stock has added 11% and the S&P 500 has dropped 19%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Mnuchin says jobless claims data is not relevant as Senate coronavirus stimulus changes the calculus of business owners
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the historic jump in jobless claims was not a piece of economic data to focus on because it was for a period before government relief was assured. "To be honest with you, I just think these numbers right now are not relevant, whether they are bigger or smaller in the short-term," Mnuchin said, in an interview on CNBC. With the Senate coronavirus relief bill now so close to passage in the House, he hopes that firms start to rehire these workers, he said. As late as last week businesses didn't have another choice except let workers go because they didn't have cash and didn't know that protections would be forthcoming, Mnuchin said.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Stocks rally as investors parse $2 trillion coronavirus relief package
U.S. stocks moved higher at the start of trade Thursday, following the Senate's approval the massive stimulus bill late Wednesday night. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 445 points, or 1.9% to trade at 21,684, the S&P 500 index gained 46 points, or 1.8% to roughly 2,520 and the Nasdaq Composite index added 118 points, or 1.5% to trade at around 7,497. The bill authorizes direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, while setting up a fund for loans to small businesses and another to provide help to industries, cities and states. The gains give the major benchmarks a chance to close higher for three straight sessions, a feat not accomplished in more than two months. In company news, shares of Boeing Co. rose 11% as investors anticipate the aerospace company will be a major beneficiary of the bill.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Green Dot gets an upgrade on optimism for 'game changer' CEO hire
BTIG analyst Mark Palmer upgraded shares of Green Dot Corp. to buy from neutral late Wednesday, cheering the prepaid-card company's decision to name Dan Henry its new chief executive. The hire "was a game-changer for the company inasmuch as the skill set and experience that he brings from his tenure as CEO of Netspend (now part of Global Payments)...makes him well suited to lead the anticipated transformation of the company," Palmer wrote. He expects that the COVID-19 outbreak will accelerate a transition away from physical cash and usher in greater adoption of digital payment mechanisms like the ones Green Dot offers. "Green Dot already counts Apple , Uber and Intuit among its [banking-as-a-service] clients, and the platform's growth has helped to offset the impact of active account losses in the company's prepaid debit card business, but we believe that under Henry's leadership it could be much more fully leveraged," Palmer said. Green Dot shares rose 13% in Wednesday's session following the announcement of Henry as CEO, but they're off 30% over the past month as the S&P 500 has lost 21%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Fourth-quarter GDP growth expanded at 2.1% rate, unrevised from earlier estimate
The pace of growth in the economy was left at 2.1% in the fourth quarter in the final estimate from the Commerce Department released on Thursday. Using more complete source data, the government found that consumer spending was higher than previously estimated, but this was offset by downward revisions to federal government spending and business fixed investment. Consumer spending was raised to a 1.8% annual pace from 1.7%, which was not a strong as the 3.2% rate seen in the third quarter. Economists are certain first-quarter growth will be weaker than the October-December period due to the coronavirus shutdown but an even-larger contraction is expected for the April-June quarter. In the fourth quarter, adjusted corporate profits before tax jumped 3.9%, after a 1.9% decline in the third quarter. For the year, profits inched up 0.2% after a 3.3% fall in 2018.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Dow futures trade lower but pare loss after weekly jobless claims surge to a record 3.2 million
U.S. stock-index futures briefly pared losses Thursday morning, but were still holding sharply lower, after a report on weekly jobless claims came in at a record level, reflecting the temporary closures of businesses across the nation due to the coronavirus outbreak. The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week rocketed to a record 3.28 million, according to the most recent report, from 282,000 claims in the prior week period. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 217 points, or 1%, at 20,817, those for the S&P 500 index fell 1% at 2,441, while the Nasdaq-100 futures declined 0.9% at 7,401. The seasonally adjusted increase in initial jobless claims from March 15 to March 21 was the largest ever, easily crushing the previous record of 695,000 in 1982. Just a few weeks ago, new claims hovered in the low 200,000s and stood near a 50-year low.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Caterpillar withdraws guidance for 2020 over coronavirus
Caterpillar Inc. said Thursday it is withdrawing financial guidance for 2020 that was offered on Jan. 31, because of the uncertainty being created by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The Deerfield, Ill.-based maker of diggers and dozers said most of its domestic operations continue to run and it is also operational in those parts of the world where it is still permitted by local authorities. "However, due to uncertain economic conditions resulting in weaker demand, potential supply constraints and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions, Caterpillar is temporarily suspending operations at certain facilities," the company said in a statement. "The company will continue to monitor the situation and may suspend operations at additional facilities as the situation warrants." The company said its financial position remains strong, with $8.3 billion of cash on its balance sheet at the end of 2019, and access to $10.5 billion worth of credit facilities. Shares fell 2.1% in premarket trading and are down 29% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has fallen 23%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Trade deficit in goods narrowed sharply in February, advanced data show
The U.S. trade deficit in goods narrowed 9.1% in February, according to the Commerce Department's advanced estimate released Thursday. The gap in goods narrowed to $59.9 billion in February from $65.9 billion in the prior month. That is a much steeper narrowing than the $62.8 billion estimate of economists polled by MarketWatch. A slowdown in growth of imports pulled the deficit lower. The report also showed a 0.5% decline in wholesale inventories. And advanced retail inventories were down 0.3%. Excluding autos, retail inventories were flat.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Treasury yields come off lows after historic surge in jobless claims
Treasury yields are down but came off their lows after U.S. initial jobless claims for the week ending March 21 rose to a record of 3.28 million, from 281,000 in the previous week. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast claims to jump by 2.5 million. The 10-year Treasury note yield fell 7.2 basis points to 0.784%. The 2-year note rate was down 1.6 basis points to 0.310%. The 30-year bond yield fell 6.6 basis points to 1.355%. Bond prices move in the opposite direction of yields. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits this week has jumped to historic levels as the COVID-19 outbreak shuts down the U.S. economy.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Wanda Sports Group to sell Ironman Group to NY-based Advance in cash deal valued at $730 mln
Wanda Sports Group Co. Ltd.'s U.S.-listed shares soared 61% in premarket trade Thursday, after the beijing, China-based company said it has reached an agreement with New York-based, family-owned Advance to sell it the Ironman Group in an all-cash deal with an enterprise value of $730 million. Ironman is a portfolio of global sporting events, including triathlon, cycling and trail running, among others. As part of the agreement, Wanda Sports Group will continue to operate the Ironman and triathlon series, Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series and Epic Series off-road mountain bike series races of The Ironman Group in China under an exclusive license agreement, Wanda said in a statement. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. wanda will use the proceeds to repay debt and the balance will be earmarked for share buybacks or dividend payments, subject to shareholder approval. Wanda shares are down 19% in the year to date through Wednesday, while the S&P 500 has fallen 23%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Analog Devices pulls quarterly forecast due to COVID-19
Analog Devices Inc. announced Thursday that it was withdrawing its forecast for the fiscal second quarter ending May 2. "The economic and social effects caused by COVID-19 are currently creating supply chain disruption and uncertainty around future demand," the company said in a release. "While customer demand in the quarter has been resilient, it has become increasingly difficult to quantify and forecast the business impact of COVID-19." The company will provide further updates on its next earnings call. Shares are down 1.8% in premarket trading Thursday, and they've fallen 21% so far this year as the S&P 500 has lost 16%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Abercrombie & Fitch to draw down $210 million from revolving credit facility
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. said Thursday that it has started the process to draw down $210 million from its revolving credit facility. The clothing and accessories company said it withdrew most of its money from Rabbi Trust last week, about $50 million. And as of Feb. 1, 2020, Abercrombie had $671 million in cash and cash equivalents. The company is also evaluating its expenditures. All of the company's stores outside of the Asia-Pacific region will remain closed until further notice. Abercrombie's portfolio includes the namesake chain and Hollister. Abercrombie & Fitch stock has slumped 62.3% for the last 12 months while the S&P 500 index is down 12.2%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Bank of England keeps rates at nearly zero and says could expand asset purchases if necessary
The Bank of England voted unanimously to keep interest rates at 0.1% and maintain its £200 billion program of buying UK government bond and sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases. "Regarding the impact of asset purchases, gilt yields fell significantly following the previous week's special MPC meeting and the commencement of additional gilt purchase operations from 20 March. If needed, the MPC can expand asset purchases further," the central bank said.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Expedia stock falls after Goldman Sachs turns bearish
Expedia Group Inc. shares are off 6% in premarket trading Thursday after Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry downgraded the stock to sell from neutral. While he acknowledged that there was risk to downgrading Expedia's stock with travel widely understood to be in a "depressed state," he sees a high risk that investors "may be overly optimistic about the prospects for a sharp recovery in online travel or Expedia's ability to fully participate given the company's balance sheet and the need to reduce costs and investments." He expects that Expedia will manage its balance sheet by cutting marketing costs and accelerating a reduction in headcount, and negotiating debt covenants, among other things, but he is worried that the company's actions could hinder its competitive positioning. "We see Booking Holdings as best positioned in the space for the eventual recovery, with its more favorable mix of business and stronger balance sheet," Terry wrote, as he has a neutral rating on that stock. Expedia shares have lost 35% over the past month, while Booking's has dropped 19% and the S&P 500 has fallen 21%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Bristol-Myers Squibb's new MS drug is approved, launch delayed due to COVID-19
Shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. gained 1% in premarket trading on Thursday after the drugmaker said the Food and Drug Administration had approved Zeposia, its oral multiple sclerosis drug. However, the company is delaying the launch of the drug as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying doing so is in the best interest of patients, customers, and employees. The drug outperformed Biogen's Avonex in two clinical trials when examining the annualized relapse rate and the number and size of brain lesions, BMS said, and the European Medicines Agency is expected to make its decision on Zeposia in the first half of the year. A company spokesperson said the company would finalize the price of Zeposia when it is launched. Bristol-Myer's stock is down 23% year-to-date, while the S&P 500 has also tumbled about 23%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Men's Wearhouse parent furloughs all store workers, CEO takes pay cut
Tailored Brands Inc. said Thursday that it will furlough all U.S. store workers and a "significant portion" of its distribution center and office workers after extending its store closures until May 4. Tailored Brands' portfolio includes Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank. The company's executives, including Chief Executive Dinesh Lathi, and full-time workers will also be taking tiered pay cuts. Pay for Lathi and the board will be halved. While the company's fulfillment centers are closed, customers can place e-commerce orders, but they will be fulfilled when the facilities are back in operation. Tailored Brands shares have plummeted 80% over the past year while the S&P 500 index is down 12.2%.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

Wendy's same-restaurant sales turn down 20% in most recent week, company draws down full revolving financing facility
Wendy's Co. said for the most recent week ending March 22, the fast-food chain saw same-restaurant sales turn down 20%. For the quarter-to-date, same-restaurant sales are up 2.8% after the breakfast launch drove up sales 15% in its first week. While the dining room is closed, Wendy's continues to operate with drive-thru and digital ordering at most of its restaurants, with drive-thru comprising 90% of the company's business. Wendy's said about 3.5% of all system restaurants are closed, 46 in the U.S. and 189 internationally. Wendy's also announced that it has drawn down its full $120 million revolving financing facility, bringing its cash on hand total to more than $340 million. Share repurchases have been suspended, and the capital plan and general expenditures are under review for cost-saving measures. The company's 2020 and longer-term outlook have been withdrawn. In order to help franchisees, Wendy's is eliminating its incremental marketing spend for its new breakfast menu, deferring royalty payments and taking other measures. Wendy's stock has taken a 15.1% tumble over the last year while the S&P 500 index is down 12.2% for the period.

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MarketWatch MarketPulse
Mar 26, 2020

The Fed 'is working hard to support you now,' Powell says in rare morning-television interview
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a rare morning-television appearance Thursday, told Americans the central bank "is working hard to support you now." The $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate last night will provide immediate relief to workers affected by the shutdown of the economy, Powell said. The Fed's role will be to make sure the eventual recovery is as strong as possible, he added. Powell said the U.S. economy may already be in a recession, but said he expected economic activity to resume in the second half of the year. He said the central bank would continue to aggressively use its emergency lending powers in all corners of the financial markets where credit is not flowing.

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