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The surge in coronavirus cases across the Sun Belt is slowing the economic recovery in the United States.
That’s according to Goldman Sachs, which said this weekend it now expects a weaker rebound in the third quarter as local leaders impose fresh restrictions and consumers show signs of caution. The investment bank predicts the US economy will grow at an annualized rate of 25% in the three months ending in September, as opposed to 33%.
“The recent declines are minor compared to the collapse in activity in March and April, but they clearly indicate a break from the steady upward trend since mid-April,” chief economist Jan Hatzius told clients.
Goldman Sachs said it thinks spending on consumer services will “pause” in July and August.
“Over the last few weeks, the Covid situation in the US has worsened significantly to the point where the US is now a notable outlier among advanced economies,” the bank said.
But it refrained from making major changes to its outlook beyond the next few months, noting that other countries have been able to manage reopening their economies while limiting a rise in virus cases, and that behavioral and policy changes, like encouraging mask-wearing, could make a big difference.
“It is admittedly hard to know how well the US will adapt in coming weeks,” Goldman said. “But last week Texas joined the roughly half of US states that have implemented a mask mandate, indicating that state authorities are willing to making politically controversial policy changes to address the current health crisis.”
If investors are concerned, it’s not reflected in markets. China’s Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng entered bull market territory on Monday, with the former skyrocketing 5.7% for its best day since 2015. The move has been partially attributed to an article published by state media asserting that “cultivating a healthy bull market is important for creating new opportunities,” suggesting more government support for stocks.
Joining the party: The S&P 500 has rallied nearly 40% from its low on March 23, while Germany’s DAX has skyrocketed more than 50% since March 18. The FTSE 100 in London has risen more than 25% since March 23. Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s Kospi are also up more than 20% from March lows.
“Sentiment remains bullish despite the many question marks around economic prospects over the medium and long term,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.
Warren Buffett makes a $10 billion deal
Warren Buffett, flush with cash, has finally found a pandemic-era deal he likes.
Dominion Energy said over the weekend that it’s selling its natural gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway in a deal worth nearly $10 billion. Berkshire is paying $4 billion in cash for the assets while assuming $5.7 billion in debt, my CNN Business colleague Clare Duffy reports.
Investors had been wondering whether Buffett’s massive conglomerate would look to make new investments in light of the economic downturn — especially after the company said in May it had $137 billion in cash on its balance sheet.
The Dominion deal indicates that Buffett’s money is still in play, so long as he sees good value. The acquisition will grow Berkshire Hathaway’s existing energy business, adding more than 7,700 miles of natural gas storage and transmission pipelines.
The big picture: While Buffett continues to bet on oil and gas, Dominion — one of the biggest utilities in the United States — is trying to shift its business toward cleaner energy.
Dominion and Duke Energy are canceling plans for their large Atlantic Coast pipeline. Announced in 2014, it had been set to stretch hundreds of miles across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
The companies said that ongoing delays, litigation and an expected increase in costs threatened the economic viability of the project, which faced intense criticism and legal challenges from environmental and other groups.
“This announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States,” they said in a statement.
Boeing could retire its 747 jumbo jet
A crisis in the aviation industry could force more dramatic changes at Boeing, which has already announced sweeping job cuts amid plunging demand for planes.
On the radar: Boeing (BA) could be close to pulling the plug on its iconic 747 jumbo jet as it scrambles to cut costs, my CNN Business colleague Chris Isidore reports.
The company hasn’t built a passenger version of the plane since it delivered the last one to Korean Airlines in 2017. And rival Airbus dropped its own jumbo jet, the A380, last year.
Now Bloomberg reports that Boeing is preparing to announce the end of production after existing orders for the freight version of the jet are filled. It cited estimates that Boeing is losing $40 million on each plane, which is taking up too much space in its Washington state factory given how long it takes to build.
Boeing neither confirmed nor denied plans to discontinue the plane.
“At a build rate of half an airplane per month, the 747-8 program has more than two years of production ahead of it in order to fulfill our current customer commitments,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to make the right decisions to keep the production line healthy and meet customer needs.”
Investor insight: Shares of Boeing, which are down nearly 45% this year, are up more than 2% in premarket trading. The Wall Street Journal reports that the next government test flight of the 737 MAX jet, which has been grounded since March 2019, could take place this week.
The June ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, a gauge of the US services sector, posts at 10 a.m. ET.
Coming tomorrow: The latest interest rate decision from the Reserve Bank of Australia.