Wall Street, after surge, takes a breather; more furloughs

April 13, 2020

Wall Street, after surge, takes a breather; more furloughs

Hundreds of companies have withdrawn all financial projections for the year given the unprecedented disruption to the economy and to consumers. But details of the extent of the damage are beginning to surface.

Ford Motor Co. expects to post a $600 million first-quarter pretax loss and said Monday that it has enough cash to get through the end of September even if vehicle production doesn’t resume.

The Detroit automaker is considering a phased restart of its factories sometime in the second quarter with enhanced safety standards. Only Ford’s joint venture in China is producing vehicles right now.

The company suspended its dividend and drew $15.4 billion from two credit lines to bolster cash reserves. Restarting factories is important for automakers, which book revenue when vehicles are shipped from factories to dealerships.

GROWING VIRTUAL CHECKOUT LINES

Beginning Monday, Amazon will ask anyone signing up for deliveries from Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods Market delivery to sign up for an invitation to use the service. The crush isolated home-grocery shoppers has created a shortage of delivery slots available despite a 60% increase in capacity put into place by Amazon since the outbreak.

With a startling 6.6 million people seeking jobless benefits last week, the United States has reached a grim landmark: Roughly one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks. And companies continue to shed jobs.

CRUDE AWAKENING

OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations finalized an unprecedented production cut of nearly 10 million barrels per day over the weekend, or a tenth of global supply, in a bid to halt plunging crude prices.

U.S. crude prices bounced almost 3% Monday, while Brent crude, used broadly in Europe, moved slightly higher. Crude prices, already in decline as the global economy slowed, have been in free fall since the outbreak began, tumbling 62% since the beginning of the year.

OPEC has historically had a difficult time reining in members and enforcing those cuts. Bank of America says that means the actual cut may be closer to 7 million barrels per day. Energy analysts with the bank believe because the world is so flush with oil, it could mean an extended period of lower prices, particularly in the U.S.

MARKETS

After their best week since 1974, markets in the U.S. appear to be taking a breather Monday. Markets in Europe are closed because of a holiday, though U.S. markets are following Asia lower.

The Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all slid significantly at the opening bell.


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