3:04 pm: Apple is making it easier to unlock your iPhone without Face ID, since everyone’s wearing masks now
Apple has released beta iPhone software that makes it easier to unlock your iPhone without using Face ID and while wearing a mask.
Right now, if you’re wearing a mask, you need to lift your mask to unlock an iPhone with Face ID. Otherwise, there’s a small but annoying delay between when the phone realizes it can’t see your face and when it presents the screen to enter in a passcode. You can just turn off Face ID, but then you don’t get the convenience when you’re at home and not wearing a mask.
In the new iOS 13.5 beta 3 code, which was released to developers for testing on Wednesday, Apple simplifies the unlock process for folks wearing masks by bringing the passcode field to the main screen. All you need to do is swipe up if you’re wearing a mask, and you’ll skip the Face ID display and enter in a code instead. —Todd Haselton
2:51 pm: Trump to meet with executives from Waffle House, Wynn, Toyota, others to discuss reopening economy
Executives from the Wynn Resorts, Hilton Worldwide, Toyota North America and Waffle House are among those meeting with President Donald Trump today to discuss reopening the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter.
The people, who requested anonymity because the list of attendees is not yet public, said other executives will be in attendance as well.
Trump has been soliciting feedback from a wide range of executives on when and how to reopen businesses that have shuttered their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson for Toyota confirmed the company’s attendance at the meeting Wednesday.
“Toyota announced its intention to ramp up its North American manufacturing operations in May. As a result, Toyota was invited to the White House to be part of a discussion highlighting a group of companies that are ramping up their operations,” the spokesman said. —Lauren Hirsch
2:08 pm: Fed pledges to keep rates near zero until full employment, inflation come back
The Federal Reserve painted a dour picture of current conditions and pledged to continue its historically aggressive policy stance until it is comfortable that the U.S. economy is back on its feet.
Following this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the central bank said it would maintain its current interest rate target between 0% and 0.25%.
“The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the committee said in its post-meeting statement. “The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.” —Jeff Cox
2:00 pm: Over 50% of malls with department stores are predicted to close by 2021, real estate services firm says
Shoppers wearing protective masks walk through the re-opened Anderson Mall in Anderson, South Carolina, on Friday, April 24, 2020.
Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images
First, the department store closes. Then, the apparel shops try to scoot out of deals. This is a one-two punch that could trigger a wave of malls shutting for good over the next 12 months.
More than 50% of all the malls anchored by department stores in America could close permanently by the end of 2021, a new report by Green Street Advisors predicts. There are about 1,000 malls still open in the U.S. And roughly 60% of those have department store retailers, such as Macy’s, as anchor tenants, the commercial real estate services firm said.
The coronavirus pandemic that has slammed the U.S. economy is speeding up the demise of department stores. As Covid-19 forced the likes of J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus to shut stores, the circumstances became even more dire for these already struggling companies. Slumping sales and an overhang of debt could push some into bankruptcy. Strained for cash, these retailers are scrambling for additional liquidity. More department store closures are inevitable. And that will put another level of pressure on mall owners. —Lauren Thomas
1:52 pm: Large lenders temporarily shut out of small business relief lending, Treasury and SBA announce
Large lenders will be prohibited from lending through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program on Wednesday evening.
A joint statement read: “To ensure access to the PPP loan program for the smallest lenders and their small business customers, starting at 4 p.m. today EDT through 11:59 p.m. EDT, SBA systems will only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars.
“Please note, lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion will still be able to submit PPP loans outside of this time frame. Please also note that lenders with asset sizes greater than $1 billion will be able to submit loans outside of today’s 4pm -11:59 p.m. EDT reserved processing time. —Al Lewis
1:44 pm: Contactless payments jump 40% as shoppers fear germs on cash and credit cards, Mastercard says
Shoppers are increasingly paying in ways that don’t involve touching cash, or handing over a credit card, because of fears of the coronavirus, according to Mastercard.
The credit-card giant reported a 40% jump in contactless payments — including tap-to-pay and mobile pay — during the first quarter as the global pandemic worsened.
Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said the trend was being driven by consumers “looking for a quick way to get in and out of stores without exchanging cash, touching terminals, or anything else.”
“We are seeing an increase in the use of contactless transactions, and we think this trend will continue after the pandemic,” Banga said Wednesday on Mastercard’s first-quarter earnings call with analysts. —Kate Rooney
1:36 pm: WHO is investigating whether coronavirus causes rare inflammatory disease in some kids
Children are seen wearing raincoats, gloves, goggles and facemasks as they wait for their flight at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on March 18, 2020 in Manila, Philippines.
Ezra Acayan | Getty Images
The World Health Organization is investigating whether the coronavirus causes some children to develop a rare inflammatory disease, WHO officials said.
Health officials in the U.K. warned doctors over the weekend that Covid-19 could be causing a rare inflammatory condition in children. Britain’s Pediatric Intensive Care Society said Monday the National Health Service alerted it to a small number of critically ill children presenting with “an unusual clinical picture.”
The society noted that many — but not all — of the children with symptoms of the new inflammatory disease had been diagnosed with Covid-19. The condition was likened to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease.
“We are aware of this report which came out of the United Kingdom about a small number of cases amongst children with this inflammatory response,” WHO’s lead scientist on Covid-19 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said. “We’re looking at this with our clinical network.”
Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins. Symptoms include a high temperature, a sunburn-like rash and flu-like symptoms such as a headache and sore throat. —Will Feuer, Jasmine Kim
1:27 pm: Lyft lays off 17% of workforce, furloughs hundreds more
Lyft is laying off 982 employees and furloughing an additional 288 in an effort to reduce operating expenses and adjust cash flows due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company announced in a regulatory filing.
Lyft stock was up nearly 4% Wednesday afternoon, amid a broader market rally thanks to a study from drugmaker Gilead that showed promising results for antiviral drug remdesivir in Covid-19 patients.
The layoffs account for 17% of the company’s workforce, Lyft said. Lyft also has implemented reductions in base salary for employees exempt from the layoffs and furloughs for a twelve week period. The salary cuts, which begin in May, will consist of a 30% reduction for executive leadership, 20% for vice presidents and 10% for all other exempt employees, Lyft said. —Jessica Bursztynsky
1:19 pm: Apple and Google release test version of coronavirus tracing software
Apple and Google released a beta version of their coronavirus tracing software.
This software will power apps that do “digital contact tracing” or, as Apple and Google call it, “exposure notification.” These apps will provide notifications to users that they may have been exposed to someone infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus, without collecting or sharing data about their identities.
Apple and Google are not building the apps. Rather, they’re building technology into their market-leading smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android, to enable apps to use Bluetooth signals to determine their distance from other phones. If a person tests positive with Covid-19, they can use the apps to send notifications to other phones that have come within a certain distance, telling the owners of those phones to get tested.
Millions of people around the world are expected to download these apps to fight the spread of the coronavirus over the coming months. —Kif Leswing
1:13 pm: Fiesta Restaurant Group returning $15 million in small business rescue loans, share surge 20%
1:05 pm: New York Gov. Cuomo says NYC subway system is disgusting and deteriorating, orders cleaning plan
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he’s ordering New York City’s subway authority to develop a cleaning plan for all trains after reports that the subway system has deteriorated, trains are filled with homeless people and crime has proliferated.
Cuomo said he saw pictures in The Daily News of train cars that were filthy and disgusting and had homeless people living on them with all of their belongings. He added that some crimes have increased despite a 90% drop in ridership amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
“And it was not just the Daily News picture, it reflected what has been in the press and what people have been saying, which is the deterioration of the conditions in the subways,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany.
He said that he’s ordered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to submit a full plan by Thursday on how they intend to disinfect every train, every night to protect commuting essential workers.
“Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before,” Cuomo said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, Kevin Breuninger
12:54 pm: Stocks extend surge, with Dow rallying 600 points to session high
12:46 pm: Mnuchin says he’s reserving $259 billion to add to Fed coronavirus lending programs
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump listen during an East Room event highlighting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 28, 2020.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is keeping some $259 billion worth of coronavirus aid capital in reserve for new or expanded Federal Reserve lending programs, but is not considering further aid to airlines at the moment.
Mnuchin told reporters during a video news briefing that all of the unallocated capital would go to broad-based Fed lending programs.
“I didn’t want to allocate all the money up front,” Mnuchin said on a Zoom chat. “I wanted to leave some in reserve to see how each one of these programs did, to see if the programs needed more money and to see if we needed to do more programs.” —Reuters
12:38 pm: UK has second-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, new figures show
The United Kingdom now has Europe’s second-highest official death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures on Wednesday that cover fatalities in all settings, including in nursing homes.
Some 26,097 people died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus as of April 28 at 1600 GMT, Public Health England (PHE) said. That means the United Kingdom has had more Covid-19 deaths than France and Spain have reported.
“These more complete data will give us a fuller and more up to date picture of deaths in England and will inform the government’s approach as we continue to protect the public,” Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, said.
Although international comparisons are difficult, the new figures confirm Britain’s place among the European countries worst hit hardest by the pandemic. —Reuters
12:30 pm: Dr. Anthony Fauci says data from remdesivir drug trial shows ‘quite good news’
Dr. Anthony Fauci (L), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks next to Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx, during a meeting with US President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards D-LA in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on April 29, 2020.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that data from a coronavirus drug trial testing Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir showed “quite good news.”
Speaking to reporters from the White House, Fauci said he was told data from the trial showed “clear cut positive effect in diminishing time to recover.”
U.S. health officials are expected to release the full results of a drug trial conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases later Wednesday. Gilead Sciences announced earlier in the day that the study had met its primary endpoint, but did not provide further details. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
12:19 pm: Starbucks plans to start reopening US locations next week. Here’s what customers can expect
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson detailed how the coffee chain plans to operate U.S. cafes. as it moves to reopen “a significant number” of stores next week.
Roughly half of Starbucks’ U.S. company-operated locations are closed. Those that have remained open during the pandemic have had drive-thru only service, Johnson said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
Johnson said Starbucks plans to have over 90% of its company-operated U.S. locations open by early June.
As cafes reopen, Johnson said they will begin to offer mobile ordering for pickup.
“And in this pickup, we have a contact-less handoff that’s at the entryway,” he said. “And in other cases, we’ve got mobile order for drive-thru.”
Mobile order also will be expanded for curbside pickup, he said. And in certain cities where it can be done safely, to-go ordering could be offered, he added. —Kevin Stankiewicz
12:06 pm: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Americans are not ready to go back out in public yet
As parts of the U.S. start to reopen their economies during the coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said polls find Americans do not want to move too quickly to return to normal life.
“The polls show that the American people are wiser than anyone, overwhelmingly 6-to-1, 7-to-1, say that we should not go out there any sooner than ready and say that we should not end the social distancing because of the risks involved to their health,” the California Democrat told CNBC’s Jim Cramer.
Mostly Republican governors and members of Congress have agitated to start a phased reopening of the economy – despite the ongoing public health risk as U.S. Covid-19 cases top 1 million. Pelosi said moving too soon could jeopardize the progress made by isolating Americans in recent weeks.
“We have to be careful because we’re going to waste the investment we already made in keeping people safe at home,” she said.
About three-quarters, or 73%, of voters say the U.S. should sustain social distancing even if it hurts the economy, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll taken over the weekend. Another 15% said the U.S. should stop isolating to help the economy.
Meanwhile, 80% of respondents to a mid-April Kaiser Family Foundation poll said shelter-in-place measures are worth it to protect people. —Jacob Pramuk
11:49 am: More than a third of the population live in states that are partially reopened or will be soon
Jeannie Dent talks to a customer across the room as she gets a manicure from Sally Le and pedicure from Tom Dinh at Nail Turbo, during the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the state, in Roswell, Georgia, on April 24, 2020.
Bita Honarvar | Reuters
The economic door, haltingly, is creaking open
According to a review of state plans by CNBC, 13 states have already partially reopened and another 7 have announced a date to do so in the next week or so. In all, CNBC’s analysis finds 118 million Americans, or slightly more than a third of the population, are living in states that have partially reopened or will be soon.
While the reopening plans have sparked concern that they are too soon and carry risk of a potential new round of contagion, they also offer the possibility, if successful, of a faster economic rebound than forecast.
Georgia with its 10.6 million people is the largest state to partially reopen followed by Tennessee and Indiana. In all, 58 million Americans, or about 18% of the population, live in states that have already partially reopened. Gov. Brian Kemp was hit with criticism for giving permission to gyms, tattoo parlors and restaurants to open this week, though they must still adhere to social-distancing rules.
Among those states set to reopen soon, Texas will be the largest with its 28 million residents. Governor Greg Abbott on Monday set May 1 for a partial reopening. His plan allows all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls to reopen at 25% of capacity. Business in counties with few coronavirus cases can open to 50% of capacity. —Steve Liesman, Caitlyn Freda
11:38 am: 8-month ‘structured lockdowns’ could halve economic damage from the coronavirus, research claims
Enforcing eight-month “structured lockdowns” could halve the economic destruction that would be wrought by Covid-19 if no social-distancing measures were imposed, according to researchers from Cambridge University and the Federal Reserve.
According to the study, published Wednesday by economists from Cambridge University and the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, the economic price of inaction when it comes to encouraging social distancing could be twice as high as that of a “structured lockdown.”
Researchers found that imposing no lockdown at all would be “extremely risky” for economic output, as the spread of the virus would hit workers in sectors that were vital to keep developed economies functional.
Without any social distancing, the core workforce would be hit hard — and the economy would shrink at a peak monthly rate of 30% as their industries came under pressure, the study projected.
Researchers claimed that in order to protect the economy to the maximum, “core workers” — those in key industries such as health care, food and transportation — must be separated from the rest of the working population. —Chloe Taylor
11:25 am: Coronavirus testing chief says ‘no way on Earth’ US can test 5 million a day, despite what Trump says
Assistant Secretary for Health admiral Brett Giroir speaks as US President Donald Trump listens during a news conference on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on April 27, 2020.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump said he thinks the U.S. will “very soon” be able to test 5 million people for the coronavirus a day – but there’s “no way on Earth” the country can reach that goal, according to the government’s top testing official.
“There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who is in charge of the government’s testing response, told TIME in an interview he gave Tuesday morning that was published later in the evening. The interview took place before Trump’s remarks about testing.
The U.S. will be able to test 8 million per month by May, Giroir told Time.
Giroir was responding to a new study’s findings. Harvard University published a report last week that said the U.S. would need to ramp up testing capacity to at least 5 million tests a day by early June, and 20 million per day by late July, in order to reopen the economy. Giroir told TIME the assessment is “an Ivory Tower, unreasonable benchmark,” adding that it’s not needed based on current modelling. —Will Feuer
11:16 am: Orthodox Jewish funeral that drew thousands was ‘absolutely unacceptable,’ NYC mayor says
Mourners gather for the funeral of ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Mertz in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on April 28th, 2020.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said a funeral for a local rabbi that drew thousands of mourners in Brooklyn on Tuesday “was absolutely unacceptable” and warned that people could die from the event.
“It was a large gathering, again, tragically thousands of people. The amount of danger created by that kind of gathering is inestimable … people will die because of it, which goes against everyone’s values,” de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The police didn’t issue any citations Tuesday night, according to a police spokesperson, but that will change. De Blasio and NYC Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said they are done warning people who violate social distancing guidelines and will issue summons or arrest violators going forward. —Noah Higgins-Dunn
11:08 am: Pending home sales tank nearly 21% in March
Home sales took a deep dive in March as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the economy and homebuyers and sellers pulled out of the normally busy spring market.
Signed contracts to purchase existing homes, referred to as pending home sales, fell 20.8% compared with February and were 16.3% lower annually, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Regionally, pending sales fell 14.5% in the Northeast for the month and were 11% lower than a year ago. In the Midwest, sales decreased 22% monthly and 12.4% annually. In the South sales dropped 19.5% for the week and 17.8% annually, and in the West they fell 26.8% weekly and 21.5% compared with a year ago. —Diana Olick
10:44 am: You might be able to get more college aid money due to the pandemic
Now more than ever, it may pay for students to negotiate with colleges for more money towards tuition. The coronavirus pandemic has left many American families facing financial hardship. Colleges are also concerned about their fall enrollment, which is likely to drop. Most have already extended decision day for incoming freshmen to June 1 from May 1.
That means colleges may be more willing to say “yes” to appeals for more financial aid and scholarship money — for both new and returning students, said Shannon Vasconcelos, who works with incoming freshmen and their families as director of college finance at Bright Horizons College Coach. She is also the former assistant director of financial aid at Tufts University.
There are different tactics to getting more money, depending on whether it is need-based financial aid or merit-based scholarship money. Here are some ways to try and get some of that aid. —Michelle Fox
10:40 am: Promising data from drug trial ‘beginning of the end of the true nightmare,’ Cramer says
CNBC’s Jim Cramer said positive news from Gilead Sciences about a potential treatment for the coronavirus marked a turning point in the fight against Covid-19. “What I regard this as is the beginning of the end of the true nightmare, which is that it’s a death sentence,” Cramer said on “Squawk Box.”
Cramer said the existence of a truly effective treatment for Covid-19 would have broad benefits for how people behave.
“You eliminate the fear of becoming a society that it’s terrible to congregate,” Cramer said. “Now we know that crowds are still bad. We know we have to wear masks. … But you take off the death sentence, and I think what happens is people approach life very differently. And that’s why I think it’s perfectly realistic for the Dow to go up.” —Kevin Stankiewicz
10:35 am: NYC begins antibody testing for health workers and first responders
New York City will offer free coronavirus antibody testing to more than 150,000 health-care workers and first responders on the front line of the outbreak to determine if they’ve likely been infected with Covid-19 and recovered, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“Antibody testing brings a lot to the table, and our goal is to reach a lot of people who would like to take advantage of it on a voluntary basis, of course,” de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday.
An antibody test shows whether someone has been exposed to or potentially had the coronavirus and developed the antibodies to fight the infection. It doesn’t guarantee immunity, but physicians say a positive antibody test indicates that a patient may have some level of protection against reinfection. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, Jasmine Kim
10:31 am: Dr. Scott Gottlieb sees millions of vaccine doses ready for testing this fall
Millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be available in the fall to be used in human trials, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Wednesday.
It could be “enough to use in large-scale studies if you have an outbreak in American city where you might deploy the vaccine in an experimental protocol,” he said.
The hope would be to try to contain the outbreak and “validate whether or not the vaccine is truly safe and effective for mass inoculation of the population,” the former FDA chief explained. —Kevin Stankiewicz
10:13 am: Pizza Hut accelerates transition away from dine-in sales
Pizza Hut’s same-store sales shrank 11% during the first three months of the year, but the company’s digital and delivery sales are booming.
In recent years, Pizza Hut has been trying to shed its reputation with consumers as a dine-in pizza chain and grow sales by focusing on its digital ordering options and delivery.
David Gibbs, chief executive of Pizza Hut’s parent Yum Brands, said that the company is experiencing “three years worth of changes” in just three months. —Amelia Lucas
9:52 am: LabCorp swings to a loss, withdraws 2020 guidance as coronavirus outbreak drives up costs
Labcorp CEO Adam Schechter talks as Pharmaceuticals industry executives and government Health officials meet with Vice President Mike Pence on the Coronavirus crisis at the White House on March 4, 2020 in Washington,DC.
Eric Baradat | AFP | Getty Images
LabCorp reported Wednesday a net loss for the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic drove up costs and cut demand, prompting the company to withdraw 2020 guidance.
The company, which manufactures diagnostic tests, said the coronavirus outbreak drove a 50% to 55% plummet in demand for testing services at the end of the quarter compared to the same period last year. That hit to demand was “marginally offset by an increase in demand for COVID-19 tests,” the company said, adding that the drop in volume appears to have stabilized.
LabCorp said it expects to make up for the hit to testing demand by ramping up its capacity to conduct Covid-19 antibody testing to more than 200,000 tests per day by mid-May. —William Feuer
9:43 am: Boeing burns through $4.3 billion in cash, seeks to cut 10% of workforce as coronavirus hurts demand
Boeing posted a first-quarter loss of $641 million Wednesday and said it burned through $4.3 billion in cash during the first quarter as the company faces the coronavirus crisis and the 13-month-long grounding of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max.
The company said it is planning to reduce aircraft production, including the 787 Dreamliner, and to cut payroll by about 10% through voluntary measures and “involuntary layoffs as necessary.”
Boeing had about 160,000 employees at the end of last year. —Leslie Josephs
9:35 am: Dow surges more than 400 points as positive Gilead news lifts hope for coronavirus treatment
Stocks jumped Wednesday on the back of positive data from a potential coronavirus treatment from Gilead Sciences while investors digested a sharp drop in U.S. economic activity.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded more than 400 points higher at the open, or over 1.5%. The S&P 500 gained 1.9% while the Nasdaq Composite traded 2.1% higher. —Fred Imbert, Yun Li
9:29 am: Oil jumps more than 20% on hope economy will reopen sooner than expected
A woman wearing face mask walks on the ocean front while Oil tankers are seen anchored off the coast of Long Beach, California, after sunset on April 25, 2020.
Apu Gomes | AFP | Getty Images
Oil prices jumped more than 25% on Wednesday following a report that showed a smaller-than-expected build in U.S. inventory, and on the hope that economies will re-open sooner-than-expected.
West Texas Intermediate for June delivery surged 26.4%, or $3.26, to trade at $15.60 per barrel, while international benchmark Brent crude traded 11.6% higher at $22.84.
The surge higher came after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that U.S. crude inventories jumped by 10 million barrels in the week to April 24, to 510 million barrels. That was lower than analysts’ expectations of a build of 10.6 million barrels, according to estimates from Reuters. —Eustance Huang, Pippa Stevens
9:07 am: US GDP shrank 4.8% in the first quarter amid biggest contraction since the financial crisis
Gross domestic product fell 4.8% in the first quarter, according to government numbers released Wednesday that provide the first detailed glimpse into the deep damage the coronavirus wreaked on the U.S. economy.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected the first estimate of GDP to show a 3.5% contraction.
This marked the first negative GDP reading since the 1.1% decline in the first quarter of 2014 and the lowest level since the 8.4% plunge in Q4 of 2008 during the worst of the financial crisis.
The biggest drags on the economy were consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment, exports and inventories. Residential fixed investment along with spending from both the federal and state governments helped offset some of the damage. —Jeff Cox
9:00 am: New coronavirus cases reported daily by region
8:56 am: Gilead reports ‘positive data’ on remdesivir coronavirus drug trial
Gilead Sciences said Wednesday it is aware of “positive data” from one of its studies looking at antiviral drug remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
The drugmaker was expected this week to release clinical trial results involving patients with severe cases of Covid-19. The severe study is “single-arm,” meaning it will not evaluate the drug against a control group of patients who didn’t receive the drug.
There are no proven treatments for Covid-19, which has infected more than 3 million people worldwide and killed at least 217,569 as of Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. U.S. health officials say producing a vaccine to prevent the disease will take at least 12 to 18 months, making finding an effective drug treatment soon even more crucial. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
8:46 am: Weekly mortgage applications to buy a home make a strong recovery, as rates hit a new record low
Evidence is mounting that homebuyers may be coming back to the market after demand plummeted in the past month due to the coronavirus.
Mortgage applications to buy a home rose last week, but refinance demand fell, causing total application volume to decline by 3.3% for the week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.
Mortgage demand from homebuyers jumped 12%, signaling a potential turn in buyer confidence. Volume was still 20% lower than the same week one year ago. Real estate firms and listing websites have been reporting more buyer demand anecdotally over the past two weeks, and some homebuilders say they are also seeing buyers come back. —Diana Olick
7:57 am: Boeing posts quarterly loss of $641 million
Boeing reported a first-quarter loss of $641 million, as the company faces both coronavirus and the more than yearlong grounding of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max.
The company is planning to reduce production of some aircraft, including the 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing is facing a dismal market for new planes as air travel demand plunges as the pandemic and measures to stop it from spreading keep travelers home. —Leslie Josephs
6:55 am: GE reports a revenue hit, expects worse quarter due to pandemic
General Electric reported steep declines in first-quarter revenue and earnings as the industrial giant took a hit amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The company posted a total revenue of $20.524 billion, which represents a year-over-year decline of 8%. GE Industrial profits fell 46% year over year to $1.096 billion from $2.017 billion. On an adjusted per-share basis, the company earned 5 cents. That’s below a Refinitiv estimate of 8 cents per share.
“The impact from COVID-19 materially challenged our first-quarter results, especially in Aviation, where we saw a dramatic decline in commercial aerospace as the virus spread globally in March,” CEO Larry Culp said in a statement.
Culp said the company is eyeing cost cuts of more than $2 billion along with $3 billion in cash preservation to cushion the coronavirus blow. GE’s earnings release also indicated the industrial giant expects this quarter to be worse than the first.
“The second quarter will be the first full quarter with pressure from COVID-19, and GE expects that its financial results will decline sequentially,” GE said. —Fred Imbert
6:18 am: Most of Spain has virus reproduction rate of below 1, health official says
A man wearing a face mask and gloves walks past a mural in the village of Bueu, northwestern Spain, on April 2, 2020 amid a national lockdown to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Miguel Riopa | AFP | Getty Images
Almost all areas of Spain have a coronavirus reproduction rate, known as the “R” number, below one, health emergencies chief Fernando Simon said Wednesday, Reuters reported. The reproduction rate refers to the number of people that an infected individual goes on to infect.
“Right now, almost all areas in the country have a reproduction number below one,” Simon told reporters in an online briefing.
If the reproduction number is not below one on average, he said, Spain cannot consider easing mobility restrictions. —Holly Ellyatt
5:44 am: Russia nears 100,000 cases
A medical worker in a protective suit takes swabs from a patient at a clinic in St. Petersburg, Russia on March 18, 2020.
Peter Kovalev | TASS via Getty Images
Russia’s crisis response center reported 99,939 cases as of Wednesday, up an additional 5,841 cases in the last 24 hours.
The total number of reported fatalities remains relatively low, however, at 972 deaths. Russia says it has carried out 3.3 million tests. On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin extended the national “nonworking” month through to May 11. He also warned that Russia had not yet seen the peak of the virus. —Holly Ellyatt
5:33 am: Spain’s daily death toll rises again, 325 new fatalities
Mortuary employees wearing face masks transport a coffin of a COVID-19 coronavirus victim at La Almudena cemetery on April 04, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.
Carlos Alvarez | Getty Images
Spain’s daily death toll rose again with the health ministry reporting 325 deaths Wednesday, up from 301 reported the day before.
The overall death toll from the virus rose by 453 to 24,275, however, as additional data was added from previous days, Reuters reported.
The country now has confirmed 212, 917 cases of the virus, the ministry said, up 2,144 from the previous day. —Holly Ellyatt