Stock Markets Show Broad Optimism: Live Business Updates

Global markets jump on recovery hopes.

Global markets jumped in early Monday trading on continuing hopes that the global economy will recover relatively quickly from the coronavirus outbreak.

London was up about 1 percent early, following a rise in most Asian markets. Futures markets were predicting a strong opening for Wall Street as well.

Investors are increasingly betting on what is called a V-shaped recovery, or an initial plunge in economic activity followed by a strong surge. But a quick recovery isn’t assured, especially as a second wave of outbreaks occurs in the United States, China, South Korea and other places trying to get their economies back on track.

Monday’s optimism was broad, with prices for U.S. Treasury bonds — which often rise in times of uncertainty — tumbling during Asian trading. But oil prices fell on continued worries about an oversupply.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 average rose 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 1.5 percent. Australian, Taiwan and New Zealand markets also rose. Bucking the trend, the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China was flat, while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.5 percent.

In London, the FTSE 100 was 1 percent higher. German’s DAX was up 0.6 percent, while France’s CAC 40 index was up 0.2 percent.

Temperature checks are conducted on ticket holders upon arrival. All guests must wear face masks. Parades are suspended. No theater shows or fireworks. Purple social-distancing mats prevent bunching while waiting in line. Rows of seats are left empty on rides.

It’s not quite the escapist fantasy Disney typically hopes its theme parks will be, but the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland on Monday carried immense symbolic importance. It sent a message to Disney’s furloughed park employees — 43,000 in Florida alone — about the future: There will be one.

From a business standpoint, Shanghai Disneyland will be operating far below its potential. The Chinese government has limited capacity at the park to 24,000 people daily, less than one-third of its pre-outbreak capacity. Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive, said last week that Disney would reduce ticket sales even further — “far below” the government’s limit, in his words — to make sure that employees can enforce new safety rules. Fewer tickets sold means decreased food and merchandise sales.

Investors have been relieved. Disney shares have climbed 8 percent since May 5, when Mr. Chapek announced that Shanghai Disneyland would reopen, perhaps paving the way for similar actions at Disney resorts in the United States, Japan and France. The limited number of tickets that Shanghai Disneyland put on sale for this week sold out within hours, suggesting that people are willing to resume public activities, even without a vaccine.

When the Shanghai resort reopened on Monday, according to videos of the event, cast members — Disney’s term for employees — lined Mickey Avenue, which leads to the castle and aerial Dumbo ride, and waved madly as they greeted attendees. Belle, Minnie, Woody, Duffy and other costumed characters appeared with welcome banners as a marching band played an upbeat “Mary Poppins” tune.

“It has been an emotional morning,” Joe Schott, president and general manager of the Shanghai Disney Resort, said in a phone interview. “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Meatpacking plants around the country that have been shuttered by the coronavirus are reopening again, in an effort to avoid meat shortages in fast-food chains and supermarkets.

But even with stronger safety precautions, it’s unclear if America’s appetite for meat can be sated without sickening armies of low-wage workers, and their communities, in new waves of infection.

Tyson Foods reopened a massive meatpacking facility in Waterloo, Iowa, on Thursday with new safety precautions like plexiglass barriers along the production line, infrared temperature scanners to detect fevers, and face shields and masks for the workers. Tyson’s largest pork operation in the United States, the plant is responsible for almost 4 percent of the nation’s pork supply.

Like many other meatpacking plants around the United States, it had become a hotbed for coronavirus infections. As of Thursday, the county health department had recorded 1,031 coronavirus cases among Tyson employees — more than a third of the work force. As of Friday, three employees had died, according to Tyson.

Plant employees, immigrant-rights advocates and local government officials have criticized the company for failing to provide adequate safety equipment to Waterloo workers and initially refusing the requests of local officials to close the plant.

Steve Stouffer, the head of Tyson’s beef and pork operations, said in an interview that the company had made the best safety decisions it could in a rapidly evolving situation. But he acknowledged that the company might have done more.

“Looking at it in the rearview mirror, you can always be better,” he said.

Political pressure has been building to get the dozens of meat-processing plants across the country that had shut down because of virus outbreaks up and running again. President Trump issued an executive order in late April declaring the meat supply critical, and he has urged plants to increase their production.

But the reopening may have to proceed in fits and starts. Tyson executives cautioned that it would take time to return to normal. The Waterloo plant reopened on Thursday at about 50 percent capacity. And ramping back up could take weeks as workers return from quarantine.

For weeks, the car industry was expected to be the motor pulling the Chinese economy out of a deep downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Car dealers spoke of eager customers who feared becoming infected on mass transit and wanted their own set of wheels immediately. Automakers told their factories to ramp up production.

The bad news came on Monday morning in Beijing: car sales did not rise after all. They actually fell.

The China Passenger Car Association announced that the number of cars sold by dealerships to the general public fell 5.5 percent in April compared to the same month a year ago.

That was a lot better than March, when sales fell by nearly half compared to last year. But it was worse than automakers expected.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Monday that factories sold 4.4 percent more cars to dealerships last month than the same month a year ago. Dealership inventories of unsold cars stayed bloated as a result.

But there were signs of hope for the industry. The passenger car association said that dealership sales to the public had been up 12 percent in the last week of April from a year ago, after dismal sales earlier in the month.

“In the last several weeks, there’s a momentum that has picked up, and from everything I’m seeing is gaining some traction,” said Jay Kunkel, the executive vice president for Asia and Pacific operations at Tenneco, a global manufacturer of automotive emissions and suspension equipment.

The S&P 500 climbed more than 1 percent. European markets were higher after a broadly positive day in Asia.

Investors were cheered by the prospects of countries further reopening their economies, despite worries that those efforts could lead to a rise in infections. They were also bolstered by announcements from the United States and China that appeared to back their Phase 1 trade deal, which would bring their two-year trade war to a temporary truce. The White House had openly questioned China’s commitment to the deal in recent days, hurting stocks.

The optimism was widespread. Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds, which generally rise in troubled times, were lower. Oil prices also rose.

But more grim economic data was released on Friday. The report on April payrolls in the United States is showed a loss of more than 20.5 million jobs — a breathtaking drop — and a sharp jump in the unemployment rate. Corporate earnings reports, too, are reflecting the heavy toll of the pandemic. Siemens, the European industrial giant, said profit fell 64 percent in the first quarter.

The stock market has shown a remarkable indifference to the dire outlook for the economy since it began to rally on March 23. That was the day the Federal Reserve signaled that it stood ready to pump an unlimited amount of dollars into financial markets to keep key borrowing markets from malfunctioning.

Tesla’s chief, Elon Musk, and local health officials in California clashed on Saturday over the timing of the reopening of Tesla’s factory in Fremont, with the company’s chief executive pushing for an immediate return and the county’s government seeking a delay of about a week.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Musk said he would move the company’s headquarters out of California to Texas or Nevada.

The tweets came a day after health officials from Alameda County told Tesla that it was not yet allowed to resume production of electric vehicles in Fremont because of fears that the coronavirus could spread among the company’s workers. Manufacturers have been allowed to restart work in other parts of the state that have had less severe outbreaks of the virus.

“Frankly, this is the final straw,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will depend on how Tesla is treated in the future.”

Scott Haggerty, the county supervisor for the district in Alameda County where Tesla’s Fremont plant is located, said on Saturday that he had been confident that county health officials and Tesla executives were close to an agreement on reopening the plant on May 18. But, Mr. Haggerty said, that appeared to be unacceptable to Mr. Musk, who wanted to open the plant on May 8.

“We were working on a lot of policies and procedures to help operate that plant and quite frankly, I think Tesla did a pretty good job, and that’s why I had it to the point where on May 18, Tesla would have opened,” Mr. Haggerty said. “I know Elon knew that. But he wanted it this week.”

Apartment rent collections are surprisingly strong so far this month, with an industry survey showing that a vast majority of tenants have made payments.

Through the first six days of May, 80.2 percent of tenants paid at least some of their rent, compared with 81.2 percent a year earlier, according to a survey of 11.4 million apartments by the National Multifamily Housing Council, a trade group for large apartment owners. That was better than the first week of April, when 78 percent of tenants paid some or all of their rent. By the end of the month, the figure had risen to almost 95 percent.

A similar story has played out in state surveys and corporate earnings reports, with publicly traded apartment companies reporting strong rent collections in April and May.

Government stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits appear to have helped backstop consumer finances. Still, there are concerns about the trade-offs that low-income renters must make to pay their rent, and how long they can continue to do so with millions of new unemployment claims filed each week.

Two Democrats, Representative Denny Heck of Washington and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, introduced bills on Friday providing $100 billion to cover about six months of housing costs for tenants. “This bill will help tenants pay their rent, without placing the burden on landlords,” Mr. Heck said in a statement.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond announced plans for a phased-in approach to reopen approximately 20 stores by May 22, but the majority of stores would remain closed until at least May 30. The company plans to promote store safety with hand sanitizer and wipes, occupancy limits, social distancing and curbside pickup. Bed Bath & Beyond also owns Buybuy Baby and Harmon Face Values, which sell essential goods and have remained open during the pandemic.

Reporting was contributed by Niraj Chokshi, Brooks Barnes, Conor Dougherty, Gregory Schmidt, Mohammed Hadi, Ana Swanson, David Yaffe-Bellany, Michael Corkery, Keith Bradsher, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor.

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