Dow soars as investors take in $2 trillion stimulus deal: March 25, 2020

By CNN Business

Updated 6:54 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020
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4:27 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Tomorrow's claims for unemployment benefits are expected to soar to a record high

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Tomorrow's jobless claims data will shine a bright light on the ugly economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Economists expect 1 million people to have filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 21, which would be the highest figure ever recorded. But the number could be even higher. Goldman Sachs (GS) estimated more than 2 million people have filed claims. Morgan Stanley (MS) and the Economic Policy Institute expect as many as 3.4 million claims.

State labor departments across the the country are struggling to cope with the influx of claims.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced businesses across the country to shut down and lay off workers, at least temporarily.

Following tomorrow’s report, investors will attempt to quantify the total losses to be experienced, and the corresponding impact on the unemployment rate," said Jonathan Golub, chief US equity strategist at Credit Suisse. "While neither is knowable, an extremely rough rule of thumb would be a 1% increase in the unemployment rate for every 1.5 million jobs lost."

The US Department of Labor will release the weekly claims data tomorrow at 8:30 am ET.

3:48 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Cheap oil could wipe out 1.6 million oil jobs 

From CNN Business' Matt Egan

Pink slips will soon be flying in the oil patch.

The crash in oil prices to 18-year lows is forcing energy companies to slash costs, including by laying off workers.

Rystad Energy estimates that 1.6 million jobs in the oil industry will ultimately get wiped out around the world.

The bulk of those jobs will be in the oilfield services sector, which provides the technology, equipment and manpower to drill for oil. Rystad anticipates 1 million oilfield services jobs disappearing as oil companies rapidly slash spending to cope with cheap oil.

Halliburton (HAL), the largest US oilfield services provider, implemented a mandatory furlough beginning Monday impacting 3,500 employees in Houston.

The oil industry has been hit hard by the combination of shrinking demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic and surging supply because of the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Chevron (CVX) laid out plans this week to defend its dividend by cutting spending and cutting $1 billion of costs. Occidental Petroleum (OXY) is lowering pay across the board, including for its CEO.

2:58 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Economic relief bill prevents loan-receiving businesses from paying dividends

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe and Jeremy Herb

The economic stimulus bill agreed to on Wednesday in Washington will place restrictions on businesses that receive loans as part of the $500 billion loan, investment and liquidity program, according to a draft of the bill obtained by CNN.

The loan recipients won't be allowed to pay dividends for a year after the loan is repaid, and must retain 90% of employment levels as of March 24, "to the extend practicable," through September 30.

$25 billion are earmarked for the airline industry, plus another $4 billion for cargo air carriers and $17 billion for businesses that work in national security.

A new congressional oversight commission will monitor the administration's handling of the loans. Trump's businesses are not eligible for any of them.

2:49 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

The S&P 500 hasn't closed higher for two straight days since February

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Wall Street's broadest index, the S&P 500, is on track for its first back-to-back gains in more than a month.

That's just one way of looking at how wild the past few weeks have been for the stock market.

The S&P gained a whopping 9.4% yesterday, its best performance since 2008, and is up 3.2% this afternoon.

But for the month, things look less rosy. The index has dropped nearly 15% so far in March, putting it on track for its worst month since October 2008 -- the peak of the financial crisis.

2:36 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

State AGs: Online marketplaces must do more to prevent price gouging

From CNN Business' Clare Duffy

A group of 33 attorneys general from called out leading online marketplaces for failing to adequately protect consumers from price gouging amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The attorneys general issued letters asking Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), Ebay (EBAY) and Craigslist to more closely monitor their platforms for price gouging by third party sellers.

As the coronavirus outbreak escalated and consumers stocked up on essential goods, listings for exorbitantly priced face masks, sanitizers and other products began popping up on online marketplaces. Earlier this month, Amazon said it removed more than 1 million products for price gouging or falsely advertising effectiveness against coronavirus.

"As COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, it is especially important unscrupulous sellers do not take advantage of Americans by selling products at unconscionable prices," a letter from the group to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reads.

The attorneys general from many states, as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico, recommended several actions:

  • Set policies against price gouging that take into consideration historical seller prices, and enforce restrictions.
  • Trigger price gouging protections ahead of an official emergency declaration; for example, ahead of pending weather events.
  • Create a complaint portal for customers.
12:57 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Uber drivers and other 'gig' workers could get relief in the Senate's $2 trillion aid package

From CNN's Brian Fung

Independent contractors and so-called “gig” workers will be eligible to receive federal aid under the $2 trillion emergency package being considered by the US Senate, according to a CNN review of the document

The language in the draft bill could provide additional certainty to millions of part-time workers who drive for Uber (UBER) or deliver for Amazon (AMZN), in what has become a major part of the digital economy.

The provisions are responsive to requests by tech execs including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who this week wrote to President Donald Trump asking for economic support for Uber drivers. 

"My goal in writing to you is not to ask for a bailout for Uber, but rather for support for independent contractors and, once we move past the immediate crisis, the opportunity to legally provide them with a real safety net going forward,” Khosrowshahi wrote.

Gig economy businesses such as Uber have battled fiercely at the state level, especially in California, to avoid having to classify their drivers as employees who would be eligible for corporate benefits.

The draft bill is not yet final.

2:46 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Why Boeing is up 32% today ✈

From CNN Business' David Goldman

US stocks' performance are mostly confused about how to react to Congress' stimulus bill deal. But not investors in Boeing (BA).

The aircraft manufacturer's stock soared 32% on two very good piece of news for the company.

1) Congress has reached a deal on an aid bill. While the details will be released later Wednesday, the company is expected to receive tens of billions of dollars in government assistance. The company advocated for a $60 billion bailout.

2) The company is expected to restart production on the 737 Max in May, according to Reuters and CNBC, earlier than expected. Boeing shut down its assembly line for the jet in January amid fallout from two fatal crashes.

Boeing was placed on credit-watch negative by Fitch only a couple weeks ago. The company shuttered its Washington factories Tuesday. And the company suspended its dividend for the first time in nearly 80 years on Monday. So the company hasn't had a ton of great news.

12:07 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Stocks are mixed at midday, but the Dow is up more than 500 points

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

It has been a wild ride for stocks this morning. Up, down, round and round -- traders just couldn't decide which way things were going to go today.

At midday, stocks are still mixed, but the Dow and the S&P 500 -- the broadest tracker of the US market -- are squarely in the green.

The Dow is up 2.7%, or 560 points, helped by a more than 30% jump in Boeing (BA) stock.

The S&P 500 is up 0.9%.

The Nasdaq Composite is modestly negative, slipping 0.1%.

2:54 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

You can now track coronavirus cases through your weather app

From CNN Business' Clare Duffy

IBM (IBM) is part of a growing group of corporations taking steps to aid in fighting coronavirus. Among its latest: an app from The Weather Channel (which IBM owns) that allows users to track the outbreak in their area.

The app has been outfitted with a new "COVID-19" tab that shows coronavirus cases, deaths and — soon — recoveries in the zip code and state where the phone is being used. It uses CDC data, and also shows the trend of cases in the state, as well as a map of where they are.

"The data for COVID is very complex out there ... We said could we help if we had a trusted source for the consumer, from the CDC, that was hyperlocal?" IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in an interview with CNN.

First thing I did was look at my mother's zip code. She has to go to the doctor because of some things. How did I feel about her going outside? ... I think it is really about helping everyone change their behavior to do what is the right thing right now."

IBM is now working on developing the app in Spanish for other parts of the world.

Watch the interview here: