Coronavirus economic updates: Markets tick up slightly after weeks of volatility


ABC News Corona Virus Economic Impacts

The health crisis has increasingly become an economic one.

Catherine Thorbecke

March 31, 2020, 12:11 AM

6 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and sending financial markets reeling.

Here’s the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy. For more on financial resources available during the pandemic, click here.

Gap to furlough majority of employees in US and Canada

Just hours after Macy’s announcement, fellow hard-hit retailer Gap announced Monday it will also furlough a majority of workers at its stores in the U.S. and Canada.

The company said the COVID-19-induced closures of its stores will likely extend past its previously announced date of April 1.

Gap added that it will continue to offer “applicable benefits” to eligible employees until stores are able to reopen. The company said the entire Gap leadership team “will take a temporary reduction in pay.”

“We know that tens of thousands of people rely on us to support themselves and their families, and that millions more around the world rely on our business,” Sonia Syngal, the president and CEO of Gap said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to provide support during this time, and we are intensely focused on welcoming back our store teams and customers as soon as we are able.”

Markets rebound after weeks of volatility

U.S. financial markets on Monday showed some signs of stabilization after a volatile few weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 690 points, or approximately 3.2%. The S&P 500 gained more than 3.3% and the Nasdaq spiked more than 3.6%.

Markets slipped last Friday after three days of back-to-back gains earlier in the week.

Over the weekend, President Trump officially reversed his call to reopen businesses by Easter and said he will extend the nation’s coronavirus social distancing guidelines to April 30.

“The modelling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” Trump said at his daily briefing at the White House. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.”

The guidelines cover limitations on public gatherings, travel restrictions, school and business closures, and other efforts to combat the virus. Trump said that his office would give more details about the new plans on Tuesday.

The announcement came just days after the president said he hoped that Easter would be a celebration of the virus’ defeat.

Cruise lines extend suspension of operations amid COVID-19

Multiple cruise lines announced Monday they were extending their suspension of operations further as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to batter the travel industry.

Holland America, a subsidiary of Carnival, said it will extend its suspension of global ship operations through May 14.

Royal Caribbean has currently suspended global operations through May 11 and Princess Cruse Line has suspended trips until at least May 10.

Norwegian Cruise Line currently plans to lift its suspension on April 12.

A series of high-profile outbreaks of COVID-19 aboard cruise ships have embroiled the industry in controversy since the early days of the pandemic.

Macy’s to furlough a majority of its workforce beginning this week

As the retail industry takes a massive hit from the COVID-19 outbreak, the already-struggling chain Macy’s announced Monday it will furlough “the majority of our colleagues” beginning this week.

All Macy’s stores have been shuttered since March 18 and will remain closed “until we have clear line of sight on when it is safe to reopen,” the company said in a statement.

The company admitted the outbreak “continues to take a heavy toll on Macy’s, Inc. business.”

“Across Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Bluemercury brands, we will be moving to the absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations,” the statement added.

Workers who have been furloughed but are enrolled in health benefits will continue to receive coverage until at least May, the company said.

Macy’s said it expects to bring back the furloughed employees “on a staggered basis as business resumes.”

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