Stocks continue to plunge…Virus impacts mount…Consumer spending slows
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are plunging again in early trading on Wall Street, putting the market on track for its worst week since October 2008. Bond prices soared again as investors sought safety, pushing yields to more record lows. The weeklong global market rout is being driven by fears that the spreading coronavirus will derail the global economy. The benchmark S&P 500 index has now lost 15% since hitting a record high just 10 days ago. Crude oil prices fell again.
LONDON (AP) – Concerns about the economic impact of the new coronavirus are intensifying, disrupting business events, production and travel. The Geneva auto show was canceled after Swiss authorities banned large public events. There is a run on face masks, with many businesses selling out. And companies continue to report a hit to earnings. British Airways’ parent companies is the latest to warn on a revenue drop, while Philippine Airlines said it was cutting 300 jobs.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans pulled back on their spending in January, even as their incomes surged, indicating that the economy was growing modestly before the threat of coronavirus arose. The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending increased 0.2% last month, down from 0.4% in December and smallest gain since October. Incomes, however, rose 0.6%, the biggest gain in nearly a year, spurred by bigger paychecks and an increase in Social Security benefits stemming from a cost of living adjustment.
BERLIN (AP) – German auto giant Volkswagen says it will pay over $900 million in damages to hundreds of thousands of customers whose diesel cars were outfitted with software to manipulate emissions readings. The settlement offer was negotiated with Germany’s consumer protection group. Volkswagen called it “fair compensation.” It will now be up to some 260,000 customers who had sued Volkswagen in Germany to accept the offer or to proceed on their own to try and sue for more. The customers argue their cars lost value due to the emission cheating scandal.
TULSA, Okla. (AP) – Prosecutors say a Chinese national who admitted stealing trade secrets from a U.S. petroleum company has been sentenced to two years in federal prison. Hongjin Tan pleaded guilty in November to theft of a trade secret in connection to his work as a scientist at a Phillips 66 research facility in Oklahoma. Prosecutors say Tan used a thumb drive to copy hundreds of files containing information about “next generation battery technologies.” Tan’s attorney said in court filings that his client had no criminal history and is taking responsibility for his actions. Tan was sentenced Thursday in Tulsa and also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution.