Stocks drop…Retail sales, industrial production plunge, layoffs soar…Automakers prepare to restart factories
NEW YORK (AP) – Stock indexes are mostly lower in early trading on Wall Street following another batch of data showing how business shutdowns are ravaging the economy. The government reported that retail sales sank a record 16% in April, the second steep decline in a row as store closures kept shoppers away. The Federal Reserve also reported that industrial production plunged a record 11.2% in April. Germany’s economy shrank in the first quarter, meaning that Europe’s largest economy is in a recession.
BALTIMORE (AP) – Retail sales tumbled by a record 16.4% from March to April as business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus kept shoppers away, threatened stores across the country and weighed down a sinking economy. The Commerce Department’s report on retail purchases showed a sector that has collapsed so quickly that sales over the past 12 months are down a crippling 21.6%. The sharpest drops from March to April were at clothiers, electronics stores, furniture stores and restaurants. A long-standing migration of consumers toward online purchases is accelerating, with that segment posting a 8.4% monthly gain. Measured year over year, online sales surged 21.6%.
WASHINGTON (AP) – American industry suffered the most severe plunge on record last month with factories, mines and utilities battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The Federal Reserve says its industrial production index tumbled a record 11.2% in April. Manufacturing output also posted a record drop – 13.7% – as production of cars, trucks and auto parts plummeted more than 70%. Production of aerospace and other transportation products, metals and furniture fell around 20%. Output dropped 6.1% at mines and 0.9% at utilities. The implosion of the U.S. industrial sector was not unexpected, but the scale of the decline shocks the senses. Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said “one can’t help but grimace.”
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Labor Department says layoffs soared in March to a record high of 11.4 million after state and local governments closed restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other nonessential businesses as the viral outbreak intensified. Job openings and hiring both fell sharply, though those changes weren’t nearly as dramatic as layoffs, which rose more than six-fold. The number of available jobs fell nearly 12% to 6.2 million. The number of hires declined 13%, to 5.2 million.
DETROIT (AP) – The U.S. auto industry is defying a wave of layoffs that has sent the job market into its worst catastrophe ever. Automakers are restarting factories next week that were closed by the coronavirus and bringing back an estimated 133,000 workers. It’s not a full return to normal and it could be temporary if people don’t start buying vehicles again. But automakers say there’s enough pent-up demand, especially for pickup trucks, to get the factories humming again. Looming in the background is an economy decimated by the pandemic.