Wall Street Breakfast: Everything Rally Returns

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Californians ordered to ‘stay at home’

California estimates that more than half of the state – 25.5M people – could get the new coronavirus over the next eight weeks as Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order for people to stay at home. Non-essential businesses, including wineries and bars, will also be closed. Newsom further asked President Trump to dispatch the USNS Mercy hospital ship to the Port of Los Angeles through Sept. 1 to help with the influx of expected cases.
Go deeper: Where are the drive-thru coronavirus testing sites?

Next six months for consumer companies?

In what could be a harbinger of things to come in the U.S., almost half of China’s listed retailers don’t have enough cash to survive the next six months. “We expect smaller players to be more vulnerable due to tight working cash flow, and some players will exit the market, leading to a higher level of consolidation,” said Jefferies analyst Mark Yuan. Data released Monday already showed that retail sales in the world’s second largest economy plunged 20.5% in the first two months of the year, while China is also on guard for a second wave of infections.

Jobless claims surge

The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits jumped last week, increasing by 70,000 to 281,000, the fourth-biggest weekly increase on record going back to 1967. The spike is tied to the coronavirus pandemic as businesses shut down in industries from leisure to hospitality. State-level anecdotes suggest jobless claims could hit more than 2M in next Thursday’s report, according to a note from Goldman Sachs.

Oil has best day ever, but could prices go negative?

While WTI futures soared 24% on Thursday, oil traders are still struggling to navigate one of the biggest oil crashes in history, writes Bloomberg’s Catherine Ngai. Amid an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, capacity to hold barrels of U.S. oil in tanks and caverns could max out by mid-2020. In fact, in the aftermath of the last major downturn four years ago, a North Dakota sour crude was briefly priced at negative 50 cents a barrel before being revised to a mere $1.50.
Go deeper: “We know zero is not a lower band – we learned that with gas.”

Haley resigns from Boeing board

Citing her disagreement with any move to seek a federal bailout, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is leaving Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) board. “I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position,” said Haley, who has been in the role since Feb. 2019. “I have long held strong convictions that this is not the role of government.”
Go deeper: ‘Boeing: Tailwind Is Coming’ writes Graham Grieder.

Surging data usage

In a week-over-week comparison, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) streaming demand increased 12%, web traffic climbed 20%, VPN jumped 30% and gaming skyrocketed 75%. “We’re always built for being prepared for different types of changes in the network,” CEO Hans Vestberg declared. “In less than a week, we have transformed this company dramatically.” While U.S. carriers have suspended data caps, there are fears about bandwidth usage over in Europe. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and YouTube (GOOG, GOOGL) are tapping the breaks on their download speeds there, reducing bit rates for 30 days.

Apple is limiting online purchases

Recent checks on Apple.com show the company is limiting iPhone model purchases to a maximum of two handsets per person, and other products, like the iPad Pro, also face restrictions. “Now that stores all over the world are closed, online scalpers see an opportunity,” according to Nicole Peng, who tracks the smartphone sector at research firm Canalys. The last time Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) instituted selling caps was in 2007, when the iPhone was first introduced.

Box office figures suspended

Following the worst weekend in more than two decades at the North American box office, as well as the large number of theater shutdowns around the globe, Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are suspending the release of box office data. Hollywood’s two other main movie studios, Sony Pictures (NYSE:SNE) and Warner Bros. (NYSE:T), didn’t yet make any announcements, though they may follow suit later today. In related news, the 2020 Cannes Film Festival has been postponed due to the coronavirus.

Last coronavirus roundup for the week

A decades-old drug called chloroquine – used for malaria since 1944 – may be helpful in treating COVID-19, and drugmakers from Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) to Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TEVA) are beefing up supply or donating doses. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has temporarily halted its Prime Pantry delivery service due to a surge in demand, while Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is shelling out $365M in special bonuses to its employees. Walmart additionally plans to add 150K new associates through the end of May to its stores and clubs, as well as distribution and fulfillment centers.

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