Latest U.S. Unemployment Numbers May Reflect New Shutdowns: Live Updates

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Fresh government data on Thursday is expected to show that new unemployment claims have leveled off as rising coronavirus cases have pushed some states to reverse course and reimpose shutdown orders on businesses.

According to Bloomberg, the average estimate is that 1.37 million new state jobless claims were filed last week, a dip from the previous week’s 1.43 million. Although new claims in the Labor Department’s tally have been declining since early April, the weekly total has not dropped below a million since the coronavirus pandemic started — levels that are far above previous records.

Hiring nationwide has picked up in recent weeks, and the overall jobless rate dipped in June to 11.1 percent from a peak of 14.7 percent in April. But most of the payroll gains were because of the rehiring of workers temporarily laid off because of the pandemic. The pool of workers whose previous jobs have disappeared and who must search for new ones has grown.

“The recovery in new hiring has yet to begin.” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at the employment site ZipRecruiter.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said this week that high unemployment in the United States and other developed countries would probably persist at least until 2022. — Patricia Cohen

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Markets were higher on Thursday, as investors were encouraged by some positive earnings announcements and another day of rising stocks indexes in China.

In Europe, most of the major indexes were in positive territory, led by Germany’s DAX, which gained more than 1 percent. Asian shares were higher. On Wall Street, futures pointed to a modestly lower open.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Treasuries were rising, and oil futures were slightly lower — two signs that investors are taking a cautious approach.

The weekly report on U.S. claims for unemployment insurance coming on Thursday will provide a fresh clue to the state of the American economy. The numbers have been falling in recent weeks as more states have allowed businesses to reopen. But this week that trend is expected to level off because the recent surge in new coronavirus cases has prompted some states to reimpose shutdown orders.

Shares in the European tech company SAP gained nearly 8 percent after it reported that revenues and operating profit slowly rose in the second quarter. SAP, a Germany-based software maker, said software license revenue, a main source of income, “recovered more than expected” in the quarter. Operating profit increased by 7 percent.

SAP’s news came as the industrial giant Alcoa said on Wednesday that gains in productivity and cost savings in the second quarter had helped offset lower aluminum prices caused by falling demand during the pandemic.

In China, the Shanghai composite rose by 1.4 percent — its eighth straight daily gain — leading other Asian markets. China has been encouraging more people to buy shares, pointing to potential bargains as the world’s second largest economy emerges from the pandemic. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.3 percent, Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.4 percent, and the Kospi in South Korea ended the day 0.4 percent higher.

Credit…Jing Wei

When you’re essentially confined to your house for weeks, you have a lot of time to think.

Paul B. Brown, in an essay for The Times, says that after thinking most about the health and safety of his friends and family, he found himself obsessing about his own finances: Like so many others, he had a big problem.

As a freelance writer, he says, he lost most of his income virtually overnight, putting him in the same situation as tens of millions of people whose paychecks vanished.

Because he followed the financial advice he’s reported on for years, he wasn’t in terrible shape, he says, with an emergency fund and a respectable portion of his portfolio in medium-term bond mutual funds, which held up well while the stock market plummeted.

But now he has resolved to learn from this crisis and do some major tweaking of his finances. Among his resolutions: Keeping more cash on hand, working harder to reduce debt, making a plan on how to use his Social Security payments, and trying to save more.

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United Airlines said on Wednesday that it could furlough as many as 36,000 workers, or nearly 40 percent of its staff, starting Oct. 1 if travel remained weak and if enough employees did not accept buyout and early retirement packages.

Airlines have been warning workers for months that they could start making significant cuts once federal stimulus funds expire. United received about a fifth of the $25 billion Congress authorized in March to help airlines pay employees as long as the companies made no significant cuts through Sept. 30.

The Oct. 1 furloughs would include about 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 customer service and gate agents, 5,500 maintenance employees, and 2,250 pilots, among others. Those numbers could be smaller if ticket sales pick up significantly or if many thousands of workers apply for reduced hours or voluntary leave before a mid-July deadline United has set for buyouts and early retirement packages, the airline said in a memo to its employees. United is also cutting almost a third of management and administrative employees.

“The United Airlines projected furlough numbers are a gut punch, but they are also the most honest assessment we’ve seen on the state of the industry,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, which represents nearly 50,000 workers at 19 airlines, including United.

In a statement, Ms. Nelson called on Congress to extend the stimulus funding “to avoid hundreds of thousands of layoffs from an industry that normally drives economic activity.”

In a separate development, United and American Airlines said they would suspend flights to Hong Kong after the authorities there said they would test all airline workers for the coronavirus starting on Wednesday. Airline crew members were previously exempt from the mandatory deep-throat saliva tests that nearly everyone entering the Chinese territory must take, and a cargo pilot tested positive for the virus last week.

United said in an emailed statement late Wednesday that flights to and from Hong Kong will be suspended “through July 10” because of “recent changes in testing protocol” at the city’s airport. Earlier this week, United said it planned to bring back services between Chicago and Hong Kong in September.

American Airlines, which has suspended flights to Hong Kong since the end of January, was due to resume services between Dallas and the city on Thursday. But the carrier has now pushed back the resumption of passenger services to early August. “We consider a range of factors including travel restrictions or entry requirements in making network decisions,” the airline said late Wednesday.

Niraj Chokshi and Elaine Yu

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Technology stocks led Wall Street higher on Wednesday, but trading was unsteady as investors considered the spreading coronavirus outbreak and new friction between the United States and China.

After swinging from gains to losses and back again, the S&P 500 rose less than 1 percent. The technology heavy Nasdaq composite fared better, rising nearly 1.5 percent, as shares of companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple rallied. All four of those stocks, and the broader Nasdaq composite, hit record highs on Wednesday.

Technology stocks, favored by investors who see them as insulated from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, have rallied since late June amid a surge of cases of the virus across the United States. The companies have cash stockpiles that will protect them from any downturn, and products that are in higher demand as the pandemic keeps workers at home.

More broadly, stocks have been climbing recently even as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States surge and governments begin to reinstate restrictions on gatherings and other activity in an effort to contain the virus. That’s in part because of data showing that the economy is rebounding from its lows earlier this year.

But it also puts markets at risk of a sharp pullback if leaders take more drastic action, or investors are confronted with evidence of the toll the pandemic is taking on corporate profits.

Wall Street’s advance on Wednesday stood in contrast to a drop in global markets. Shares in Europe and Asia were mostly lower. — Kevin Granville and Mohammed Hadi.

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