FINANCIAL MARKETS Stocks add to best quarter in decades
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is drifting higher in midday trading on Tuesday, a quiet coda for a rocking quarter that sent the U.S. stock market screaming back toward its record heights.
The S&P 500 was up 0.8%, bringing its gain since the end of March to 19.1%. Other stock markets around the world were mixed, while Treasury yields held steady and crude oil gave up a smidgen of its tremendous rebound for the quarter.
The S&P 500 is on pace for its best quarter since 1998, but that’s only after its worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis. Analysts say to expect more volatility ahead.
Consumer confidence rises to 98.1% in June
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rose in June, reflecting the partial re-opening of the country — but the concern is that rising coronavirus cases in many states could jeopardize future gains. The Conference Board, a New York-based research organization, said that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 98.1 in June after virtually no change at 85.9 in May. The index remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
The confidence index was at a high this year of 132.6 in February before falling sharply in March and April as the shutdown efforts brought the U.S. economy to a standstill.
HOME PRICES U.S. home prices rose 4% in April
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose in April for the eighth straight month, even as sales have stumbled, a sign the coronavirus outbreak has had little impact on real estate values.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 4% in April, the largest gain since December 2018, up from 3.9% in March.
Home sales have fallen sharply for three straight months to their lowest annual pace in nearly a decade in May. Yet the supply of available houses for sale has also declined, compared with a year ago, forcing remaining buyers to bid up prices.
Fauci says US could see 100,000 new cases a day
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci said coronavirus cases could grow to 100,000 a day in the U.S. if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations.
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert made the remark at a Senate hearing on reopening schools and workplaces.
Asked to forecast the outcome of recent surges in some states, Fauci said he can’t make an accurate prediction but believes it will be “very disturbing.”
“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” said Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.
Fauci said areas seeing recent outbreaks are putting the entire nation at risk, including areas that have made progress in reducing COVID-19 cases. He cited recent video footage of people socializing in crowds, often without masks, and otherwise ignoring safety guidelines.
EU opens borders to 14 nations, but not U.S.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has announced it will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries and possibly China soon.
Most Americans, however, have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S. Travelers from other big countries like Russia, Brazil and India will also miss out.
Citizens from the following countries will be allowed into 31 European nations: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
The EU said China is “subject to confirmation of reciprocity,” meaning it should lift restrictions on European citizens entering China before it will allow Chinese citizens back in.
Pandemic causes Royal Dutch Shell to cut value of assets
LONDON (AP) — Energy producer Royal Dutch Shell says it will slash the value of its assets by $22 billion to account for lower oil and gas prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company said it continues “to adapt to ensure the business remains resilient” in challenging times. Earlier this month, its competitor BP, also cut the value of its own assets by up to $17.5 billion.
The pandemic has hit the energy industry hard because it has placed onerous limits on business, travel and public life. There is little need in aviation for fuel, for example, since most planes are grounded.
VENEZUELA-OIL CARGO SEIZURE
Venezuela sanctions set off fight for ‘plundered’ oil cargo
MIAMI (AP) — U.S. federal marshals are getting ready to auction off Wednesday a cargo of 100,000 barrels of gasoline that have been floating in a tanker off the Gulf Coast of Texas for two months amid a high-stakes legal fight over American sanctions on Venezuela.
The dispute pits one of Greece’s most powerful businessmen and owner of popular soccer club Olympiakos against a fellow shipping magnate from Venezuela who has a history of helping out the country’s socialist leaders.
The ship was hired to transport the gasoline to a ship near Aruba but along the way its owners suspected the cargo’s real destination was Venezuela and turned back to avoid potentially violating sanctions. A federal judge in Houston agreed and seized the cargo while arbitration continues.
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