AP NEWS

Business Highlights

March 16, 2020 GMT

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Stocks plunge as Wall Street, White House see recession risk

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. stock market plunged to its worst day in more than three decades as voices from Wall Street to the White House said the coronavirus may be dragging the economy into a recession. Monday’s 12% drop for the S&P 500 means it has plummeted nearly 30% since setting a record less than a month ago. Losses accelerated late Monday after President Donald Trump said the economy may be headed for a recession and asked Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Huge swaths of the economy are coming closer to a standstill =as businesses and travel shut down.

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US airlines seek billions in aid as outbreak cripples travel

DALLAS (AP) — U.S. airlines are asking the federal government for grants, loans and tax relief that could easily top $50 billion to help them recover from a sharp downturn in travel due to the new coronavirus. Airlines for America, the trade group representing the carriers, posted its request for financial help on Monday. It is asking for $29 billion in federal grants, with $25 billion for passenger airlines and $4 billion for cargo carriers. The airlines are also seeking up to $29 billion in low-interest loans or loan guarantees, and they want federal excise taxes on fuel, cargo and airline tickets to be suspended through the end of next year.

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Amazon seeks to hire 100,000 to keep up with surge in orders

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon says it needs to hire 100,000 people across the U.S. to keep up with a crush of orders as the coronavirus spreads and keeps more people at home, shopping online. The online retailer will also temporarily raise pay by $2 an hour through the end of April for hourly employees. That includes workers at its warehouses, delivery centers and Whole Foods grocery stores, all of whom make at least $15 an hour. Amazon said this weekend that a surge of orders is putting its operations under pressure. It warned shoppers that it could take longer than the usual two days to get packages.

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Senate Democrats seek $750B for new coronavirus aid package

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats are proposing a new coronavirus aid package, with at least $750 billion to boost hospital capacity, unemployment insurance and other direct aid for American households, businesses and the health care industry. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is floating the proposal as Congress and the White House are developing a third package to fight the novel coronavirus that has brought the nation to a standstill. It comes as senators return to Washington on Monday to consider swift approval of an earlier aid package from the House, which provides sick pay, free testing and emergency food aid for families.

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Court approves PG&E’s $23B bankruptcy financing package

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric got court approval to raise $23 billion to help pay its bills over destructive California wildfires. It comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom dropped his opposition to a financing package designed to help the nation’s largest utility get out of bankruptcy. The milestone reached during an unusual court hearing held by phone Monday moves PG&E closer to emerging from one of the most complex bankruptcy cases in U.S. history.

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G-7 leaders try to ease tension, vow to coordinate on virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and other key world leaders held a teleconference call to coordinate responses to the coronavirus and reduce U.S.-European tension over Trump’s travel ban and reports about White House talks with a German company developing a vaccine. Some leaders in Europe were upset when Trump announced a travel ban without consulting them. Tension also rose with reports that the U.S. was possibly trying to acquire a German company working to develop a vaccine. The European Union on Monday announced $89.4 million in funding for the company called CureVac.

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Automakers dodged parts shortage, but virus poses new threat

DETROIT (AP) — The global auto industry handled the first wave of coronavirus pretty well, largely avoiding a shortage of parts when Chinese factories were forced to close. Now it faces fast-moving new problems that may be beyond its control: falling sales and factory workers getting sick as COVID-19 spreads through the United States and elsewhere. Auto companies could be forced to slow or shutter factories, dip into savings and hunker down to make it through the pandemic that could tilt the world into a recession.

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Tenn. brothers donate sanitizer products bought for resale

Thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and packs of antibacterial wipes and medical masks have been donated after a failed attempt by two Tennessee brothers to resell them for profit. News outlets report boxes were taken Sunday from a storage unit and the home of Matt Colvin of Hixson, Tennessee. The items were donated to a local church with some supplies heading to Kentucky where Colvin had cleared store shelves during the U.S. coronavirus outbreak. Colvin and his brother had bought the items before online retailer Amazon stopped their sales and the state attorney general sent a cease-and-desist letter.

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The S&P 500 fell 324.89 points, or 12%, to 2,386.13. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2,997.10 points, or 12.9%, to 20,188.52, and the Nasdaq lost 970.28 points, or 12.3%, to 6,904.59. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks tumbled 172.72 points, or 14.3%, to 1,037.42.