Stock Market Live Coverage: Wall Street is Unsteady

The Federal Reserve’s efforts to stabilize financial markets are seeing substantial takeup, the central bank’s first 30-day public report on the programs showed.

The Fed disclosed details on three of its emergency lending facilities, all rolled out since mid-March. One is targeted at primary dealers, the big banks that serve as the government’s conduit to the broader financial system, another at money market mutual funds, and the third at the commercial paper market, which businesses use to tap short-term funding.

The central bank said that it had made about $86 billion in loans to the three facilities, altogether. Of those, the mutual fund program had been lent the largest amount, at $51 billion. The Fed is providing only aggregate information on the programs, which do not use CARES Act funding, and the reports cover the period through April 14.

The commercial paper and money market facility are each backed by $10 billion in funding from the Treasury Department’s exchange stabilization fund, which, assuming it is multiplied up about 10 times per the Fed’s often-used convention on these programs, should be able to support about $200 billion in Fed lending. The primary dealer facility does not have credit risk, like the other two programs, so it does not require a Treasury backstop.

Amazon lost an appeal on Friday of a French court decision that ordered the e-commerce giant to stop delivering nonessential items in France during the coronavirus crisis, in order to protect workers.

The Versailles Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling, made last week, that prompted Amazon to shutter its six mammoth warehouses around France temporarily and put its 10,000 workers on paid furlough.

Under the ruling, Amazon can deliver only health items, food, tech products and pet food until it carries out a risk evaluation of its sites within a month in consultation with French unions. Labor organizations in France have clashed with Amazon for refusing to engage with them on health protocols to protect employees from the threat of the virus at Amazon’s warehouses.

The court said Amazon would be fined 100,000 euros, or around $108,000, for every delivery not meeting the requirement.

In a statement, Amazon said it had “taken note of the outcome” and would assess the consequences of the decision for its business, employees, customers and the small and medium-sized businesses that sell on its platform.

Last week, Amazon blasted the unions that brought the court case, saying there was “concrete evidence” that it had worked to strengthen safety measures at warehouses around France.

Coronavirus infections are a significant problem at meatpacking plants in the United States. Several workers have died, and many plants have closed or reduced output. Now a complaint on behalf of workers at a Smithfield Foods pork plant in Milan, Mo., has brought a renewed focus to working conditions in the industry.

It also seeks to test a novel legal question: whether health hazards at the plant present a public nuisance.

The complaint says workers are typically required to stand almost shoulder to shoulder, must often go hours without being able to clean or sanitize their hands, and have difficulty taking sick leave. Workers say they are reluctant to cover their mouths while coughing or to clean their faces after sneezing because they might miss a piece of meat as it goes by, creating a risk of disciplinary action.

The claims appear in a complaint filed Thursday in federal court by an anonymous Smithfield worker and the Rural Community Workers Alliance, a local advocacy group whose leadership council includes several other Smithfield workers.

Smithfield said the complaint was without merit. “The health and safety of our employees is our top priority,” said Keira Lombardo, executive vice president for corporate affairs and compliance.

An early rally on Wall Street faded and global markets slipped, as a week of dramatic turns in the financial markets came to a close.

The S&P 500 rose about half a percent at the start of trading Friday but was essentially flat soon after. Shares in Europe were slightly lower, and Asian markets had also had a down day.

But the focus among traders in the U.S. this week has been oil prices after the American benchmark for crude crashed into negative territory on Monday — an unprecedented move that broke through the relative calm that had settled over financial markets. On Tuesday, stocks suffered their sharpest drop in three weeks after the dive in oil prices, and even after rebounding slightly the S&P 500 is still on track to end the week with a drop.

Oil prices also drifted from gains to losses on Friday after a sharp rebound earlier in the week. They remain near historical lows amid concerns about oversupply.

Still, stocks are subject to sudden changes in sentiment or reversals in efforts to reopen economies. Economic and corporate data continues to outline the toll the coronavirus has taken on the global economy, and American officials emphasized that recovery would be difficult. On Friday, new data showed that the near-shutdown of the economy has pushed U.S. manufacturing into free-fall.

And even as some companies begin to consider reopening factories, they face opposition in some quarters. For example, the United Automobile Workers union said on Thursday that it was opposed to companies restarting auto production next month, saying it was not yet safe for its members to return to work.

An ad hoc network of companies, wealthy individuals, academics and former diplomats has emerged to help the United States get the Chinese-made goods it needs to save coronavirus patients and protect front-line workers — and, perhaps, to help polish China’s dented image along the way.

The United States faces a desperate shortage of medical gear, including masks and ventilators, and Chinese factories are able to produce them. But a snarled supply chain and complicated politics stand between production and delivery, and those with stakes in keeping the U.S.-China relationship alive are stepping in to help.

The group includes people like Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai, the founders of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant; Marc Benioff, a co-founder of Salesforce, who struck a pact with Alibaba last year to sell its services in China; and Yichen Zhang, the chairman of Citic Capital, a major Chinese investment firm affiliated with a state-run conglomerate.

Responding to calls for help from doctors, Mr. Zhang saw a chance to help one of Citic Capital’s portfolio companies, which got into the business of making protective gear for China during its own outbreak, and Yale University, which his daughter attends. He sent 10,000 masks and 40 protective gowns to Yale’s health clinic.

“It’s a business opportunity and a social responsibility,” said Henry Yin, Mr. Zhang’s assistant.

Last month, big restaurant chains like KFC, Wendy’s and Papa John’s asked the federal government for $145 billion in coronavirus relief funds.

The crisis has exposed the potential failings of the shareholder-focused strategy embraced by many big companies. Shareholders, wanting stock prices to go higher, pushed management to use cash on buybacks and dividends. And senior executives, paid largely in stock and on the basis of how the stock performed, were happy to oblige.

The result was that companies often didn’t have much spare cash, leaving them more exposed to economic downturns.

The United Automobile Workers union said on Thursday that it was opposed to companies restarting auto production next month, saying it was not yet safe for its members to return to work.

“At this point in time, the U.A.W. does not believe the scientific data is conclusive that it is safe to have our members back in the workplace,” the union’s president, Rory Gamble, said in a statement. “We have not done enough testing to really understand the threat our members face.”

The union, which represents more than 400,000 workers, is an influential voice in the labor movement and manufacturing industry.

Mr. Gamble said the union supported an extension of the stay-at-home order in effect in Michigan. That order, by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, expires on April 30, but she has said that she expects an extension to be warranted.

The union’s statement comes as some nonunion automakers announced plans to resume production in Southern states that have not been hit as hard by the virus. In Michigan, about 3,000 people have died from the coronavirus, including more than two dozen U.A.W. members.

Amazon’s market share may be slipping as e-commerce surges.

Last week, 34 cents of every dollar Americans spent online went to Amazon, according to the market research firm Rakuten Intelligence. That’s impressive, but Amazon’s market share was even higher before the pandemic.

The Fed just lifted restrictions on monthly bank transfers.

Bank customers who want to easily make more than six monthly transfers from their savings account will now be able to do that, after the Federal Reserve announced that it will lift a regulatory limit.

“Financial disruptions arising in connection with the novel coronavirus situation have caused many depositors to have a more urgent need for access to their funds by remote means,” the central bank said.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

Reporting was contributed by Noam Scheiber, Liz Alderman, Alexandra Stevenson, Nicholas Kulish, David Gelles, Sapna Maheshwari, Neal E. Boudette, Mohammed Hadi, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Niraj Chokshi, Ben Dooley, Jack Ewing, Ben Casselman, Jeanna Smialek, Peter Eavis, Emily Flitter, Carlos Tejada, Kevin Granville and Daniel Victor.

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