Stocks mixed…22 million have sought US jobless aid since virus…Home construction falls 22.3% in March
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are mixed in early trading on Wall Street after the government reported that 5.2 million more people filed for unemployment benefits last week. The number was not quite as many as had been feared. The claims came as layoffs sweep the country because of widespread business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders issued in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 gave up an early gain, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose. The Dow is also down. Tech and health care stocks rose, but banks and oil companies fell. Bond prices rose, sending yields lower.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The wave of layoffs that has engulfed the U.S. economy since the coronavirus struck caused 5.2 million more people to seek unemployment benefits last week. Roughly 22 million have sought jobless benefits in the past month – easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record. All told, roughly nearly 12 million people are now receiving unemployment checks, roughly matching the peak reached in January 2010, shortly after the Great Recession officially ended.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home-building activity collapsed in March as the coronavirus spread, with housing starts tumbling 22.3% from a month ago. The Commerce Department says groundbreakings occurred last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.2 million units, down from a 1.56 million pace in February.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The government is closing in on the $349 billion lending limit on its Paycheck Protection Program that is sending relief money to the nation’s small businesses. The Small Business Administration says that it has approved more than 1.6 million loans worth more than $339 billion. The program will likely reach its ceiling today. áA Trump administration request for another $250 billion for the program has stalled in the Senate. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration head Jovita Carranza have urged Congress to approve more funds. Meanwhile, thousands of small businesses have loan applications in to banks, and more companies are in the process of applying.
NEW YORK (AP) – Have you liked or commented on a Facebook post about the COVID-19 pandemic that turned out to be a hoax? The social media company says it’s going to notify users if they liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation removed from Facebook’s news feed. Facebook will then direct those users to information about virus myths debunked by the World Health Organization. Facebook says people will start seeing these warning messages in the coming weeks. Conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus and the vaccines being developed to prevent it still pop up daily on social media platforms.