Government data on Thursday morning is expected to show that layoffs in the United States remained exceptionally high last week, even as the pace of rehiring has slowed.
Forecasters surveyed by FactSet expect data from the Labor Department to show that about 1.1 million Americans filed first-time claims for state unemployment benefits last week. That would mark the 21st straight week that filings have topped one million.
Unemployment filings have fallen sharply since late March, when nearly 6.9 million Americans applied for benefits in a single week. But filings still dwarf those in any previous recession: Before the coronavirus pandemic, the worst week on record was in 1982, when 695,000 people submitted claims.
Unlike the temporary layoffs and furloughs that dominated in the first weeks of the crisis, most of the new job losses are likely to be permanent.
“It’s even more frightening now,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “There’s no silver lining of quick recalls like the higher levels that we saw back in March.”
Although layoffs have slowed, the broader economic recovery has lost momentum. Employers brought back 1.8 million jobs in July, the Labor Department reported last week, well below the 4.8 million in June. More timely data from private-sector sources suggests that the slowdown has continued in August, and economists warn that it could worsen now that key federal programs to help households and businesses weather the pandemic have expired.
U.S. stock futures dipped and European markets were lower on Thursday as investors took a step back, bracing for the latest details on jobless claims in the United States.
Futures for the S&P 500 wavered, signaling that Wall Street’s rally may not continue at the start of trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down about 1 percent, while other European benchmarks dropped modestly. Asian markets ended the day mixed.
The U.S. Labor Department on Thursday will release data on state unemployment benefits, which analysts expect to show that 1.1 million people filed first time claims last week. Though an exceptionally high number, it would be the 21st week in a row of filings topping one million.
Those numbers show how deep America’s economic pain is, and how far away a recovery may be. With millions of Americans unemployed and stimulus benefits now ended, investors are closely watching Washington for signs of how negotiations over a new federal aid bill are playing out. After talks collapsed between congressional Democrats and Republicans last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke Wednesday, though there was little indication they resolved any of the myriad issues up for debate.
Despite the continued economic destruction from the lockdowns to contain the pandemic, stocks on Wall Street have largely been on a tear. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 came close to a record high. The benchmark index rose nearly 1.5 percent, driven mainly by technology stocks, putting it within spitting distance of its February high before the pandemic sent markets into a tailspin. The index is up about 50 percent from its lowest point this year.
Hollywood has been unable to restart production on its own soundstages in California. So big movie studios, under pressure to get their production assembly lines running again, have focused on overseas shooting. The “Avatar” sequels are filming again in New Zealand. Sony Pictures has “Uncharted,” its adaptation of a popular video game, going in Berlin, report Nicole Sperling and Brooks Barnes:
Leading the way is Universal, with “Jurassic World” and a 107-page safety manual that details everything from the infrared temperature scanners the cast and crew encounter upon arrival to the vacuum-sealed meals provided by masked workers standing behind plastic partitions in the takeout-only cafeteria. Its safety protocols are serving as a model for other studios, showing Marvel, for instance, how to resume shooting “Shang-Chi” two weeks ago in Australia.
Roughly 750 people are involved in the $200 million production of “Jurassic World,” which restarted on July 6, and the set would normally be a hive of activity.
But Universal has divided the production into two categories. The larger one is made up of the departments that don’t need access to the set during filming, like construction and props. The more exclusive category, called the Green Zone, includes the director, the cast and only essential crew, like camera operators and the sound department.
Those working inside the Green Zone receive Covid-19 tests three times a week, and the sets are fogged with an antiviral mist before each use. The chairs that the actors sit in between takes are surrounded by orange cones to remind people to remain socially distant. When there is more lag time during a day, the cast can retire to a special Green Zone “living room,” complete with couches, blankets, lamps and plants. There are numerous sinks, and each time someone leaves or enters the Green Zone, he or she must wash hands.
The aim is to keep everyone healthy — and thinking less about coronavirus and more about roaming the earth with dinosaurs.
With the delinquency rate on large commercial loans tied to real estate in the United States nearly doubling in just one month, big banks, which are among the largest real estate lenders, have been generally willing to give property owners time to work things out with tenants. A class of smaller lenders are showing their impatience.
These lenders, which include hedge funds and private equity firms, have provided billions of dollars in so-called mezzanine financing to help owners of hotels, retail complexes and office buildings run their businesses.
Already, there have been a few high-profile battles. In May, after the Mark Hotel, one of Manhattan’s most luxurious hotels, missed several payments, a California private equity firm moved to foreclose on its $35 million mezzanine loan. A New York judge blocked the attempt, claiming the action was not justified and not “commercially reasonable” during a pandemic.
Unlike traditional mortgage lenders, whose loans are secured by the real estate, mezzanine lenders make loans that can convert into an equity interest in the business if the owner is unable to pay the mortgage, rather than the property itself. So “mezz” lending, which typically pays high interest rates, is both riskier and more rewarding for investors.
A foreclosure is a way for a mezzanine lender to recoup potential losses by arranging for a sale or auction of a delinquent loan as well as its equity interest in a borrower’s business. If no bidder emerges, the mezzanine lender can oust the borrower and take over as the property owner or developer. Judges have tended to side with mezzanine lenders in foreclosure disputes, but the pandemic has prompted some judges to be more sympathetic to financially stressed borrowers.
The New York court rulings on whether it is appropriate for mezzanine lenders to foreclose on borrowers during the pandemic are particularly important because New York law is often pivotal in resolving disputes between lenders and borrowers.
The Walt Disney Company will allow the Florida Division of Emergency Management to operate a public testing facility on its Walt Disney World property, ending a standoff with the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents roughly 700 actors, dancers and stunt workers at the theme park complex. When the mega-resort started to call back its workers in late June, Actors’ Equity demanded that Disney provide regular tests, noting that its members worked in jobs where they were unable to wear masks or stay six feet from one another. Disney declined. Disney has not changed its stance on providing employee testing. However, the union appeared to be satisfied with Disney’s offer to host the public facility.
The Chinese internet giant Tencent on Wednesday said it believed that President Trump’s recent executive order targeting its messaging app WeChat would not affect its other businesses in the United States. Tencent reported Wednesday that net profit rose 37 percent for the second quarter. Revenue from online games jumped 40 percent as the pandemic lockdowns kept people indoors.
The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out business for Lyft, which said Wednesday in an earnings report that its second-quarter revenue was down 61 percent from a year ago, to $339.3 million. Its net loss was $437.1 million. Ridership was down 60 percent in the quarter than ended June 30 from the same period a year ago, Lyft said. Uber has accelerated its food delivery services to offset the impact of the pandemic, but Lyft has remained focused on transportation.
Two of Germany’s biggest corporations reported huge losses on Thursday, illustrating the degree to which the pandemic has pushed companies to the brink.
The steel maker Thyssenkrupp reported a net loss from April through June of 668 million euros, or $790 million, caused by shutdowns of auto factories, which are big users of the company’s products. Thyssenkrupp was troubled even before the pandemic hit, and has lost nearly 2 billion euros over the last nine months.
TUI, a travel company with its own network of resort hotels, cruise ships and jetliners, reported a quarterly loss of €1.5 billion after customers canceled vacations and operations came almost to a standstill. TUI took in virtually no revenue during the quarter.
Both companies said they saw signs of improvement but were not yet ready to predict a turnaround. “Due to the continuing disruptions to economic and public life,” Thyssenkrupp said in a statement, “forecasts for the remaining months of the fiscal year are still subject to major uncertainties.”