Asian shares mostly lower…Oil producers finalize unprecedented production cut…COVID-19 prompts closure of Smithfield plant
TOKYO (AP) – Shares were mostly lower today in Asia while crude prices lost earlier gains that had come after OPEC and other oil producing nations agreed to cut output to reflect the collapse of demand due to the pandemic. Trading was muted with European trading closed the day after Easter Sunday. Markets in Hong Kong and Sydney were also closed. U.S. shares are set to drift lower with Dow futures down 1.4% and S&P futures down 1.5%.
UNDATED (AP) – Oil producers agreed in a video conference late Sunday to cut 9.7 million barrels a day beginning May 1. Mexico had initially blocked the deal. Iran’s oil minister says several Middle Eastern nations agreed to an additional cut of 2 million barrels a day. Analysts say the cuts are not enough to make up for the void in demand because of the coronavirus. But the deal at least helps resolve a price war that took U.S. crude to near $20 per barrel, pummeling U.S. oil and gas producers.
CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) – The average price of regular-grade gasoline in Tulsa, Oklahoma is just $1.42. Overall, the average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline fell 14 cents over the past two weeks, to $2.01 per gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says (backslash)gas prices have dropped 52 cents over the past seven weeks as demand declines amid widespread stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. The highest average price in the nation for regular-grade gas is $3.22 per gallon in Honolulu.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Citing economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed an amendment to a bill increasing the state’s minimum wage that would delay its implementation several months. The governor wants the wage increase to kick in May 1, 2021, instead of in January 2021. He’s proposed the same delay for a number of other labor-related measures, including a bill that would allow limited public sector collective bargaining.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – Virginia-based Smithfield Foods is closing its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, until further notice after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus. Smithfield warns the closure could hurt the nation’s meat supply. The plant, which employs about 3,700 people in the state’s largest city, has become a hot spot for infections. Health officials said Sunday that 293 of the 730 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in South Dakota work at the plant.