Wednesday, April 29, 2020

4:51 pm ET: Fed Signals It Will Likely Hold Rates Near Zero for Months

The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it will keep its key short-term interest rate near zero for the foreseeable future as part of its extraordinary efforts to bolster an economy that is sinking into its worst crisis since the 1930s

The Fed noted the gravity of the crisis that has gripped the economy in the face of the coronavirus outbreak and made clear it would continue to do all that it could to provide support. But at a news conference, Chairman Jerome Powell cautioned about any prospects for a swift or a robust economic recovery.

“I would say that it may well be the case that the economy will need further support from all of us if the recovery is to be a strong one,” Powell said. Read more...

— The Associated Press

3:35 pm ET: Remdesivir Has 'Significant Positive Effect,' Says Dr. Fauci

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on Wednesday announced the results of a study looking into a potential COVID-19 treatment that it says shows promise.

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the federal institute, explained the implications of the study this afternoon at the White House.

"The data show that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Fauci said. Read more...

— Alex Vuocolo

3:17 pm ET: Damon Wayans Jr.'s Virtual Booking App Goes Global

With so many music venues, bars, and comedy clubs closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, consumers are trying out new ways to keep themselves entertained. Actor and standup comedian Damon Wayans Jr. might just have an option for the stuck-at-home audience. Read more...

— McKenzie Marshall

2:56 pm ET: Quarantstreaming: Oscars Embrace Streaming While AMC Gets 'Trolled'

The coronavirus pandemic continues to flip the script on Hollywood. 

With virtually all movie theaters in the country closed and studios beginning to experiment with straight-to-streaming releases, show business is changing right in front of audiences' eyes. On Tuesday, two seismic shifts hit the entertainment capital of the world, affecting three of its most storied institutions: The Oscars, AMC, and Universal Pictures. Read more...

— Max Godnick

11:21 am ET: S&P 500 Up On Virus Hopes, On Pace for Best Month Since 1974

Stocks charged higher around the world Wednesday following an encouraging report on a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The optimism helped send the S&P 500 up 2.3% in the morning trading, and stocks in Europe also jumped immediately after Gilead Sciences said its experimental drug proved effective against the new coronavirus in a major U.S. government study that put it to a strict test.

Gains were widespread across markets, and big tech and communications stocks helped lead the way after Google’s parent company said its revenue was stronger than Wall Street was expecting. Read more...

— The Associated Press

11:12 am ET: U.S. Economy Shrank at 4.8% Rate Last Quarter as Virus Struck

The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate last quarter as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country and began triggering a recession that will end the longest expansion on record.

The Commerce Department says the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, posted a quarterly drop for the first time in six years. And it was the sharpest fall since the economy shrank at an 8.4% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2008 in the depths of the Great Recession. Read more...

— The Associated Press

11:10 am ET: Amazon Warehouse Workers Say Company Putting Them at Risk

Rachel Belz, who helps stock shelves at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in West Deptford, New Jersey, has been on unpaid leave from her job since March 13. The 32-year-old mother made the difficult decision to stay at home during the crisis and forgo her paycheck to avoid catching COVID-19 and spreading it to her loved ones.

"I didn't feel like they were doing enough to clean and disinfect," Belz said. "I have a young son and immunocompromised family. I wasn't willing to risk the people I loved to stock DVDs and stock vibrators." Read more...

— Michelle Castillo

11:09 am ET: Boeing Announces Job and Production Cuts with Earnings Loss

Boeing is cutting about 10% of its workforce and slowing production of planes to deal with a downturn in business that started with the grounding of its best-selling jet and has accelerated because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing Co. said Wednesday it has started to shrink through attrition, paying people to leave, and "layoffs as necessary.”

The company began the year with about 161,000 employees. Read more...

— The Associated Press

8:00 am ET: Need2Know: 1 Million Cases, the Future of Movies & Summer Baseball?

Get your news over easy every morning by listening to the Need 2 Know podcast (StitcheriTunes) and signing up for our morning newsletter.

COVID-19: LATEST DEVELOPMENTS: The U.S. reached two grim milestones in the last 24 hours — one million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 58,000 deaths, officially surpassing the American death toll from the Vietnam War. New data from the CDC suggests the death count is probably much higher in the hardest-hit states. But plans for gradual, phased-in reopenings continue: Simon Property, the country’s biggest mall operator, will begin reopening 49 shopping centers in 10 states starting this weekend. It is unclear how many stores in those malls will open. NY TIMES

RACE FOR A VACCINE: Efforts to develop a working covid-19 vaccine are moving faster than anyone thought possible, with Pfizer the latest major pharma company to say it plans to test its vaccine candidate in the U.S. as soon as next week, with a target of the fall for emergency use if the results are encouraging. The trial phase is typically where most promising drugs fail, but the timetables are nevertheless signs of how fast scientists and researchers are moving in their efforts to get a vaccine to market. WSJ 

PPP BACKLASH: The second round of small-business loans is off to a rocky start. The government website crashed amid the demand as soon as it reopened with newly replenished funding, and backlash is growing over a seemingly endless stream of news stories about large, public companies taking money that is supposed to be earmarked for small businesses. Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin addressed those concerns, saying companies that took more than $2 million could be audited and face “criminal liability” if it’s determined they weren’t eligible. CNBC 

SHE'S WITH HIM: Hillary Clinton has officially thrown her support behind Joe Biden in the presidential race. The former Democratic nominee joined the presumptive Democratic nominee in a live-streamed town hall to make her endorsement. It comes a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s all in on Biden. NPR

MEAT SUPPLY UPDATE: President Trump signed an executive order to classify meat processing facilities as “critical infrastructure” under the Defense Production Act. The order would allow these plants to remain open to ensure consumers don’t see a meat shortage at the grocery store. Meatpacking lines have become hotbeds for coronavirus outbreaks, and more than a dozen had been closed at some point, reducing capacity by as much as 25 percent. BLOOMBERG

VIRTUAL GRADUATION: Oprah Winfrey has signed on to be the featured commencement speaker in a virtual graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020, hosted by Facebook and Instagram. The May 15 event will be live-streamed on Facebook, and will feature appearances by Lil Nas X, Simone Biles, Miley Cyrus and more. TECHCRUNCH

SUMMER BASEBALL? Could we see major league baseball being played in ballparks this summer? Don’t count it out. The MLB is reportedly seriously considering a shortened season, to start in late June, in which the league is split into three regional divisions and teams play just within those divisions, in their home stadiums — albeit without any fans. The idea is said to be gaining steam among league officials and they think they could squeeze in a 100-game regular season this way. USA TODAY

FUTURE OF MOVIES: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is loosening eligibility rules for next year’s Oscars, given that no films are set to premiere in movie theaters for the foreseeable future. Movies that had a planned theatrical release but had to cancel it and were then released digitally will be eligible for Oscar gold in 2021. Meanwhile, the Trolls sequel made more money in three weeks of digital release than the original did in five months in theaters, leading NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell to say the direct-release option could be a new business model for big-budget films, even once the pandemic is over. That, in turn, caused AMC to say it won’t play any Universal films in its theaters. VARIETY


… a formation of Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels, soaring over NYC in a tribute to healthcare and other essential workers: SEE PICS

...ABC News correspondent Will Reeve appearing on Good Morning America from home in coat and tie...but no pants: WATCH

LEFTOVERS: COVID COATING: Researchers in Hong Kong have developed a coating that can be sprayed on surfaces like handrails and elevator buttons and protect against bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus, for as long as 90 days. The non-toxic coating has millions of capsules that act as disinfectants even after the coating is dry. It becomes available for commercial use in Hong Kong next month. REUTERS

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